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How to make your claim of novelty and contributions to the scholarly literature VERY clear with an example

THREAD: on making your claim of novelty and contribution to the literature VERY clear with an example from Dr. Lisa Pinley Covert’s book.

This blog post will be of interest to book writers, article and book chapter writers and thesis writers.
Page 1 Covert 2017
Note how Pinley Covert makes her research question clear. Pinley Covert establishes that this notion that San Miguel de Allende was on track to become an internationally-recognised tourist town that is prevalent in the mindset of a lot of people was (in her words) “not a foregone conclusion”.

She then clearly outlines research questions. Also note how Pinley Covert clearly lays out different alternative explanations (in a very well laid out “if X, then Y” format).

Note how (in the third screenshot, pp. xx) Pinley Covert also firmly expresses the multiple explanations SHE OFFERS that counter traditional narratives.

Page 2 Covert 2017This is a perfect, very clear example for our students on how to make your theoretical and empirical contributions VERY CLEAR, how to lay out the PUZZLE (what is it that your work does that counters mainstream narratives in the literature?). Also note how Pinley Covert makes it clear how her choice of San Miguel de Allende as a case study actually highlights broader, larger-scale historical processes (page xx). She then makes 3 theoretical and empirical contributions clear (laid out clearly in 1 paragraph each). Pinley Covert’s approach to writing her introductory pages is very much in line with advice I have provided elsewhere on my blog on how to write a good “Introduction” chapter.

Page 3 Covert 2017Pinley Covert’s introductory chapter offers several of her contributions, both empirical and theoretical. Note how she makes it clear what her contribution is: “This book unravels that history to show that, far from a foregone conclusion, San Miguel’s current status as an international tourist destination is the result of more than fifty years of individual agency, historical contingencies, and even happenstance” (Pinley Covert 2017, p. xx).

Pinley Covert also offers 3 distinct contributions to the literature. Something that I have emphasized with my own doctoral students is that they need to provide at least three distinct contributions (page xx, starting on paragraph 2).

When doing a book-style doctoral dissertation, 3 chapters could be empirical or theoretical or both. If someone writes a papers-based dissertation, each one of the 3 papers could be a distinct contribution as well. Pinley Covert does a fantastic job of suggesting how her book builds these three contributions and how they counter traditional narratives available in the literature.

I hope this blog post can help dissertation and thesis writers as well as book manuscript writers develop their main core ideas and highlight their contributions, given that there is no

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Posted in academia.

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