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

John D. Nicholson*, Peter LaPlaca, Ahmed Al-Abdin, Richard Breese, Zaheer Khan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


The paper marks a rare empirical examination of the semantics of contribution claims in the introduction sections of journal articles. The framing of contribution claims is 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 the 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. The paper identifies four main categories of contribution, defined as Incremental, revelatory, replicatory and consolidatory − proposing sub-categorizations within them, and reports on the proportionality of these strategies in the sample whilst capturing the semantic games played by authors in pursuit of these claims. Findings are of interest to industrial marketers but the conceptual framework and systematic methods presented in the paper are offered as transferable to any discipline or body of work, and therefore have broader disciplinary appeal. Findings are of interest to authors, reviewers and editors in 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
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Contributions
  • Gap-spotting
  • Literature review
  • Methods
  • Problematization
  • Replication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing

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