What do introduction sections tell us about the intent of scholarly work: A contribution on contributions

John Nicholson, Peter LaPlaca, Ahmed Al-abdin, Richard Breese, Zaheer Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents empirical examination of the semantics of contribution claims in the introduction sections of journal articles, a significantly under-examined area of scholarly activity, which underpins the methodical act of communicating the value of research to an audience. The paper presents a systematic review of 538 papers in three leading industrial marketing journals, Industrial Marketing Management, the Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing and the Journal of Business-to-Business Marketing and uses a phased approach to categorize contribution claims made by authors in their introductions and abstracts. The paper identifies four main categories of contribution, defined as incremental, revelatory, replicatory and consolidatory, with sub-categorizations within them, and reports on the proportionality of these strategies in the sample while capturing the semantic games played by authors in pursuit of these claims. Specific findings are of interest to industrial marketers, but the conceptual framework and systematic methods presented in the paper are transferable to any discipline or body of work, and therefore have broader disciplinary appeal. Findings are also of interest to authors, reviewers and editors for coalescing fragmented understanding of contribution strategies into a coherent framework for action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-219
Number of pages14
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Early online date5 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


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