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Academic Writing

Information designed to assist students in identifying different types of academic writing, and the purpose behind each.

Position Paper Diagram

An author who writes a position paper is making an argument which has to be built upon evidence.  The structure used to do this is very similar to that used when writing a critical essay.

Image taken from James Cook University Study Skills Online.  "Essay Structure." 17 August, 2012.  Retrieved from


The purpose of a position paper is to generate support on an issue. It describes the author’s position on an issue and the rational for that position and, in the same way that a research paper incorporates supportive evidence, is based on facts that provide a solid foundation for the author’s argument.  It is a critical examination of a position using facts and inductive reasoning, which addresses both strengths and weaknesses of the author’s opinion.  

Elements of the Position Paper

The classic position paper contains three main elements:

An Introduction, which identifies the issue that will be discussed and states the author’s position on that issue.

The Body of the paper, which contains the central argument and can be further broken up into three unique sections:

     Background information

     Evidence supporting the author’s position

     A discussion of both sides of the issue, which addresses and   refutes arguments that contradict the author’s position 

A Conclusion, restating the key points and, where applicable, suggesting resolutions to the issue.            

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