Position Paper

You will write a 400, not to exceed 450, word position paper over the work assigned by the instructor. The bibliography and heading do not count towards the required word count. The paper must be written in MLA format, double spaced, and include a bibliography if outside sources are used. Students are expected to utilize proper grammar and syntax. The paper should:

  • Express your opinion of the issue being examined. There may be multiple topics in a single assigned reading that could be chosen to form your thesis. Focus on ONE of those topics.
  • Do not summarize the piece you are writing about. A few lines of general summary are sufficient, but the bulk of the paper needs to focus on your reaction. Students are expected to make use outside sources when researching and writing their reaction papers.
  • Students must document these sources in a bibliography and via parenthetical citations. Failure to do this is plagiarism.
  • Avoid using lengthy quotes.
  • You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. Personal opinion cannot be “wrong”, but you can demonstrate poor logic or utilize inaccurate or distorted information. Engage in due diligence when referencing facts and conclusions and think critically about your own reasoning. Points will be deducted for issues in this area.
  • Anecdotal evidence (I knew someone who…) is rarely sufficient support of an argument.
  • Likewise, differing points of view should be given a fair hearing and shouldn’t be altered to align with your criticism. Do not construct “strawman” arguments to pick apart and do not engage in ad hominem or unsupported personal attacks.
  • At all times students should demonstrate logical critical thinking skills, illustrate clarity of though when expressing personal opinion, and should support claims and arguments with credible evidence/supporting opinions.
  • Dig deeper when writing these papers. Avoid cliché theses like “People should be better educated” or “Politicians should work together more”. The instructor is looking for a clash of ideas, solutions to problems, and a consideration of potential counter arguments to student’s ideas.
  • Students should demonstrate they can express an opinion without blindly rejecting arguments against it.
  • Students should strive to follow the truth wherever it leads.
  • There may be multiple points that a paper could be written on in a given week, but the word count of these assignments is limited and it is usually best to focus on one aspect of the discussion. It is better to have one well developed idea than to give shallow treatment of several

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