A position paper is exactly that, taking a position on a topic and developing your analysis of it. Ideally, you are to summarize briefly what it is you will be addressing, how you will go about it, and provide data from sources that will help defend your position. If it sounds like an essay, it is related! This is an in depth essay that has a research component.
These essays require the student use research and scholarly writing by developing your critical thinking skills. You will need to be familiar with these techniques for most majors at the four year level hence this requirement for all History and Political Science courses.
There are no “right” or ”wrong” positions, only well argued ones!
For example, if you were to “defend” this topic:
Hitler’s economic policies were positive for Germany in the 1930’s”
and your major points were :
- Lowering inflation
- Lowering unemployment
- Increasing German stature abroad
- utilized valid sources that helped you defend your position
- cited them properly and in a timely fashion
- wrote your paper well with few structural errors
You would receive high marks on this assignment!
Before deciding on a topic, think about how much research will be needed to fully explain the position. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are there statistics or personal letters on my topic?
- How does my topic relate to the era it's in?
- What sources will provide me accurate information?
- Is there bias in that source?
The benefits of writing a history paper is that there is plenty of information on many topics and it is quite easy to obtain. Feel free to use our history databases Infobase and American Government, or any books that the college may offer on your topic through GoAlexandria. Other relaible online resoruces are BBC History and Digital History.
When writing your history position paper be sure to utilize all your resources. Read and carefully decide what is beneficial to your argument. Below are some examples of HIS 130 topics you may choose from, but always get the approval from an instructor first.
1. The English treatment of Native peoples was more harsh with more long term detrimental effects and influence than was that of the Spanish.
2. The early development of the American colonies was seen by the English as a way to rid themselves of many of their poor and religious “undesirables”.
3. It would have been more advantageous to have lived in the Southern colonies rather than those in the North in the pre-Revolutionary War era.
4. The American colonists had it easier than colonists from other countries and had little cause for complaint leading up to the Declaration of Independence.
5. It did not seem likely that the American colonials should have won the Revolutionary War.
6. The Constitution favored those men who had hailed from England and were wealthy.
7. The War of 1812 was unavoidable for the United States and grew out of unresolved issues from the Revolutionary War.
8. George Washington was a poor choice to be Commander in Chief of the United States forces during the Revolutionary War.
9..The Louisiana Purchase should never have occurred because the Constitution makes no mention of the Federal Government having that power to do so.
10. The “Trail of Tears” was necessary for the continued development of the South.
11. Slavery was a necessary evil for the economy of the South.
12. Manifest Destiny showed that a strong nation could take advantage of its’ weaker neighbors and indigent peoples residing in areas it coveted.
13. The South had valid points in her reasoning to leave the Union prior to the Civil War.
14. John Brown was an American Hero that tried to do something about the issue of slavery.
15. Had Lincoln had more capable Generals, the Civil War would not have lasted as long as it did.
Focus on major points of your topic and how it relates to your position. When you are describing or referencing an event or fact, be sure to include a direct citation. If you feel that what you are writing is getting off track or you're not sure what to write, take a five minute break then come back to the paper. Viewing the paper with fresh eyes helps to see mistakes you may have made and what direction you'd like ot go in next.
Once you're happy with what you've written, take a step back and read it all the way through. You may find that some things need to be worded differently or placed in different areas.
Always double check your paper for grammar and spelling errors.
If you need help with your paper at any time, please Contact a tutor!While tutors won't write the paper for you, they certainly can help in other ways. Also, your professors will have office hours if you need help. They will post their hours on the syllabus or you may contact them through the Directory Page.
Below is an example of a History Position Paper to help you have an idea of what is to be expected.