Position Paper, Values, ethics and sustainability

Guide to Writing a Position Paper

If you were to ask 10 people, “How do I write a Position Paper?” you’d probably get 10 different responses. There is no one exact way, but having a general approach will help you both in this class and, importantly, in the business world.

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In our class, we will focus on a balance between why you think an issue is important and a critical review with fact-based information and substantiation that helps explain your position. A position paper presents your insights, general agreement or disagreement on an issue, and a tailored substantiation of your position. Attention must also be paid to grammar, style, structure, vocabulary and clarity.

PURPOSE OF POSITION PAPERS: When you put an idea forth to convince others of your position you will need to defend it in a logical manner. The better prepared you are the more disadvantaged will be any opposition, and more likely your idea will be accepted.

Sometimes it may be important to:

  • Create awareness and sensitivity to real issues
  • Formally inform others of your position as a foundation to build resolution to problems
  • Expand ability to solve issues by providing one or more perspectives that might lead to a viable problem solution. In our class, having a final solution is not necessary, but understanding the issue or challenging the status quo is
  • Use your document to guide you in being consistent in maintaining your position in negotiation


  • Organize and outline your viewpoint on an issue
  • Modify your perspective or potential solution set based upon organization culture
  • Present a unique, though biased, solution or approach
  • Frame the discussion in order to define the “playing field”
    This can put you in an advantageous position with those who may not be so well prepared regarding issues behind their positions
  • Establish your credibility by demonstrating that you have a command of the issues and solutions along with supporting research, and present them clearly
  • Let your passion be demonstrated in the force of your argument rather than in the use of emotional terms

LENGTH AND STYLE: 6 pages (max), double spaced, 11-12 point font, 1” margins

As a business course to prepare you for management, I am much more concerned with writing style, conciseness, insight, substantiation, and believability than I am with length. Thus, the paper will be graded on both content and style.

WRITING CENTER : You will need to visit the Writing Center, review your draft with others, and or myself. Papers may also be reviewed through Turnitin.com to ensure originality of work.



  1. Paper organization –Introduction, body, closing
  2. Proper and sufficient references to support your position or to establish authority


  1. Include your name, date, page numbers, and title
  2. Interesting introduction
  3. Easy to follow and builds
  4. Proper sentence and paragraph structure, and flow from paragraph to paragraph
  5. Proper grammar, syntax and vocabulary
  6. Share a draft with others to better develop the paper and ensure that your argument is clear
  7. Revise, spell-check


  • Develop supporting evidence for both sides including factual knowledge, statistical evidence, authoritative testimony
  • Identify the issues and prejudices keeping in mind your audience. List these as appropriate and anticipate counterclaims
  • Assume familiarity with basic concepts, but define unfamiliar terms/concepts or state meanings that define your point of departure
  • Refer to those who agree with your position to assist you in developing your argument
  • Familiarize yourself with those who disagree with you to prepare your defense.
    Summarize their argument and evidence, then refute


I. Introduction:

  • Consider your audience:start with a topic sentence or two that attracts attention and summarizes the issue (example): “Many believe that factory worker motivation is a growing issue…”
  • Then provide a general statement of the position that informs the reader of your point of view. What are you reacting to? You may refer to either a single article or a topic area.

(Reference information: author of the piece(s), the title of the piece, original source if it was taken from another author, publisher, volume and issue, and the year of publication.)

  • What was the author’s purpose or motive (or thesis statement) for writing the piece—for example, “to expose the dangerous conditions factory workers in the United States faced prior in the early decades of the twentieth century” or “to show how management and workers can unite to improve their competitiveness”. Provide the Author’s primary supporting ideas or refer to them as having issues.


  • Consider organizing the paper by sub-topics and paragraphs specific to points.
  • Present your arguments (with your bias).
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the piece? Show that you understand what the author(s) does well and what he or she does not do so well.
  • You might want to comment on some of the following:
  • Was the piece generally convincing? Why or why not, specifically? Is it well-researched? Are the sources reputable?
  • How does the piece relate to your experience?
  • Did the piece hold your interest?
  • Did the author overlook or leave out anything important? What?
  • Did the author overemphasize or “over-privilege” anything? What?


  • Summarize, then conclude, your argument
  • Refer to the first paragraph/opening statements as well as the main points
  • does the conclusion restate the main ideas?
  • reflect the succession and importance of the arguments
  • logically conclude their development?



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