Position Paper - Myers

A Position Paper is a common type of academic argument writing assignment. Typically, a Position Paper is written after reading about and discussing a particular issue. Quite often, the readings cover more than one issue, and as a writer you must choose a particular area of focus. The central goal of writing a position paper is not only to state and defend your position on the issue but also to show how your stance relates to other positions. As we write the Position Paper, we will continue to practice skills such as articulating a thesis statement that contains an overall claim, developing an argument with reasons and evidence, and using transitions and reader cues for coherence. We will also introduce the following skills:

  • identifying issues in a set of readings
  • collecting information from readings on a particular issue
  • positioning one's claim in relation to other positions on the issue
  • documenting sources using MLA in-text citations and works cited
  • choosing an effective organizational strategy
  • researching the library and Internet for sources

Purpose of the paper: To argue your position on an issue raised in at least two of the articles we have read, showing how your position relates to those of the authors

Audience: An academic audience that includes the authors of the readings and others interested in the issue upon which you are focusing.


  • Focus on a narrowly defined issue found in at least two of the readings. Use a specific, clearly stated thesis to introduce the focus. Introduce the issue early in the discussion.
  • Develop your argument by defending your claim and showing how it relates to the positions of your sources. Show the positions of three authors, at least two of which must be from the list below of class readings. You must refer to all class readings that address the issue upon which you focus. Use clearly stated reasons and relevant, effective evidence. Reasons should represent sound logic. Evidence may be drawn from the readings, personal experience, and outside sources such as interviews, surveys, or written sources.
  • Organize your paper in a way that effectively conveys information to your readers, is easy to follow, and presents your position in relation to those of the authors.
  • Document all outside sources (both written and field sources) using MLA in-text citations and works cited.
  • Write in a style that is clear, readable, appropriate to audience, and free from distracting errors in spelling, grammar, and usage.

John Henry Newman, "The Idea of a University"
Caroline Bird, "Where College Fails Us"
Allan Bloom, "The Student and the University"
Mike Rose, "The Politics of Remediation"
Paul Levitt, "The Unprepared Undergraduate"
Deborah Tannen, "How Male and Female Students Use Language Differently"


  • Length: 4-6 pages
  • Workshop and final draft: typed, double spaced, 1-inch margins, 10-12 point legible font
  • Find an article from a periodical or the Internet relevant to your issue.
  • Submit final draft in pocket folder with all drafts, workshop comments, notes, collecting, photocopy(ies) of outside written source(s), homework not yet collected, postscript.

Syllabus of Daily Assignments
Thurs., Feb. 25: Research Orientation.
Assignment DUE: Academic Response Paper. Read pp. 232-33; 531-46 in PHG.

Tues., March 2: Identifying issues in readings. Research time.
Assignment DUE: Read Position Paper assignment carefully. Make a list of at least 5 themes or topics that are covered in at least two of the readings.

Thurs., March 4: Evaluating Sources. Collecting strategies.
Assignment DUE: Bring a copy of an article relevant to the issue you wish to address in your paper. Write a summary of the article which focuses on the article's position on your issue and how it relates to at least two other articles we have read. Review pp. 543-45 ("Evaluating Internet Resources"); p. 547 ("Evaluating Library Resources").

Enjoy Spring Break!

Tues., March 16: Exploring your position: the zero draft.
Assignment DUE: Bring all collecting, notes, etc. gathered up to this point.

Thurs., March 18: Introduce Interview Assignment. Using field sources in your position paper. Avoiding Logical Fallacies.
Assignment DUE: Read about interviews and surveys, pp. 235-37; fallacies, pp. 456-58.

Tues., March 23: Organizing for effectiveness.

Thurs., March 25: Class canceled for individual conferences. Bring draft to conference appointment.

Tues., March 30: Documenting sources.
Assignment DUE: Interview report. Bring PHG and all sources you're using in paper.

Thurs., April 1: Peer review workshop.
Assignment DUE: Revised draft of paper.

Tues., April 6: Introduce Research Paper
Assignment DUE: Position Paper.