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
- Is the need for a theory intervention justified?
- Does the article address a communication problem?
- Are objectives and limits clearly stated?
- Does the article engage the relevant communication literatures?
- Does the literature review identify meaningful points of departure?
- Are the ideas advanced in the article actually new?
- Does the article clearly spell out its own original theory contribution?
- Are relevant terms and concepts explained?
- Does the article have a clear line of argument?
- Does the article advance its ideas vis-à-vis other relevant positions?
- Can any material that does not contribute to the flow of the argument be eliminated?
- Does the article use an accessible and comprehensible language?
- If empirical work is used, does the article establish a clear link between theory and evidence?
- Does the article discuss the larger implications of the new theory?
- Is the proposed theory intervention’s relevance compellingly demonstrated?
- Does the article address potential limitations?
Hanitzsch, T. (2013), Writing for Communication Theory. Communication Theory, 23: 1–9. doi: 10.1111/comt.12004