Research Article

Formulating and clarifying the research topic: insights and a guide for the production management research community

Daniel Wintersberger; Mark Saunders

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Abstract: Paper aims: To provide guidance on formulating and clarifying research questions from abstract and broad ideas.

Originality: Reports of empirical research invariably offer limited insights on the opaque process of developing research questions, aims and objectives. Moreover, we are not aware of a similar discussion within this journal, as well as other management journals.

Research method: This is a theoretical paper.

Main findings: Among other factors, our discussion highlights the role of theory and self-reflection in the process of research topic refinement. We consider the nature and types of theoretical contribution a research project can make, highlighting some common reasons why journal submissions are often rejected due to failure to provide a theoretical contribution.

Implications for theory and practice: Greater reflexivity in this process should ultimately lead to clearer theoretical contributions and more manageable research topics, with greater practical and societal relevance.


Research note, Research questions, Reflexivity, Research objectives


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