Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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Writing a good paper introduction


Having just spent seven weeks on a grand trip to New Zealand and Australia, I have been privileged to read, or be consulted on, many young scholars’ manuscripts.

Today I want to address a common problem I observed that I call ” Guess the topic of my paper “!!! A senior colleague of mine, now nearly retired, suggests that every paper begins with “the thesis of my paper is . . . . “. This is a play on words that makes a point, one should not have to guess what the paper is about after the first paragraph.

Bill Kinney suggests that all positivist accounting research should be planned using variants of his three paragraph approach. The three paragraphs should address:

  • What is the problem or issue that I am attempting to address in this paper?
  • Why is it important that the problem is addressed? Or whom are you attempting to inform with the findings of your research into the problem? ( this makes ” gaps in literature” NOT a reason for writing a paper as a gap is not a person you are informing).
  • How are you addressing the problem? ( the methods you will employ and why they are appropriate)

Finally, when writing the results of a project up there is one more paragraph to add.

  • What did you find and how does it inform us about the problem or issue you intended to address?

At the end of the four to five page introduction, all of this should have been explicitly covered (and NOT much more or you are writing the paper in the introduction)!

1 Comment

  1. saltersb says:

    Timely as always I was just reviewing the introduction to a paper. Now can you tell us why we do a long and tedious literature review when the introduction suffices to set up the topic and often the literature review is largely an expanded duplication?

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