How to write a theory essay

The editorial of the latest communication gives great recommendations on writing theoretical papers. I think they can apply to any field of social science. Here is the essential to remember when writing a theory essay

Step 1 : Making a case. explain why you think more theorizing is needed.
Step 2 : Statement of purpose. what are you going and what are you not going to talk about.
Step 3: The utility of the paper. Address a problem in your field
Step 4: An analytical and critical lit review.  Engage the literatures relevant in your field.
Step 5: Making a contribution. It needs to be something new
Step 6: Make a compelling argument. Polish the rhetoric
Step 7: Back up the argument. Incorporate empirical evidence
Step 8: Finish with a bang. Show the relevance of your proposal and its limitation.

And here is the author checklist.

Writing for Communication Theory: a checklist

  1. Is the need for a theory intervention justified?
  2. Does the article address a communication problem?
  3. Are objectives and limits clearly stated?
  4. Does the article engage the relevant communication literatures?
  5. Does the literature review identify meaningful points of departure?
  6. Are the ideas advanced in the article actually new?
  7. Does the article clearly spell out its own original theory contribution?
  8. Are relevant terms and concepts explained?
  9. Does the article have a clear line of argument?
  10. Does the article advance its ideas vis-à-vis other relevant positions?
  11. Can any material that does not contribute to the flow of the argument be eliminated?
  12. Does the article use an accessible and comprehensible language?
  13. If empirical work is used, does the article establish a clear link between theory and evidence?
  14. Does the article discuss the larger implications of the new theory?
  15. Is the proposed theory intervention’s relevance compellingly demonstrated?
  16. Does the article address potential limitations?

Hanitzsch, T. (2013), Writing for Communication Theory. Communication Theory, 23: 1–9. doi: 10.1111/comt.12004


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