About this Resource
Productive reading
Writing effectively
Who are you trying to convince?
Putting yourself in your assessor’s place
Identifying explicit criteria underlying audience feedback
Looking for feedback on what you are doing well and what needs improving
Feedback prompt list: reinforcing the good and avoiding the weak
Identifying the implicit criteria underlying audience feedback
Expanding what you learn from audience feedback
Familiarising yourself with the official criteria for assessment
Learning systematically from audience feedback
Learning from your writing for formative and summative assessment
Formative and summative assessment in writing for academic presentation
Criteria for academic presentation and developing a convincing argument
Comparing criteria for academic publication and assessing students’ work
Who needs convincing if your work is to get published in an academic journal?
Inside an academic journal editor’s world
Getting to grips with academic journal criteria for acceptance
Building your sense of audience: an interview with a journal editor
Top tips for postgraduate and doctoral research students who aspire to get published
Arguing convincingly
Mapping your field
Literature reviewing
Reviewing the literature systematically
Developing proposals
Criteria for academic presentation and developing a convincing argument 

Proposals for conference papers often consist of an abstract of a few hundred words summarising the content of the proposed paper, or a more extended partial draft of the paper itself of maybe 2,000 words. Full papers may be the equivalent length of a published article in an academic journal, up to maybe 8,000 words. Obviously, the longer the submission, the more detail can be included. The shorter the submission, the more important it is to select only the most important things to say which will help to convince your academic reviewers.

It is quite common for academic conference organisers to leave implicit the criteria for assessing submitted proposals or papers. This is because they and other expert management researchers who will act as anonymous reviewers of submissions have absorbed implicit criteria for acceptance from their own writing for academic presentation and publication.

Whether explicit or implicit, one thing such expectations are likely to have in common is that submissions should follow the logic of enquiry: requiring you to contribute to academic discourse by putting forward an argument and to indicate how your conclusion is warranted by adequate evidence to make it convincing.

Which of the criteria in the example below do you think most closely relate to developing a convincing argument in your paper?

Reviewers of anonymised papers for presentation at the British Academy of Management annual conference in 2009 were asked to rate them according to criteria that included:

1.       clarity of the research question/problem

2.       quality of literature and theoretical positioning

3.       adequacy of the research design (if relevant)

4.       quality of data collected/presented (if relevant)

5.       quality of discussion and potential contribution

6.       organisation, structure and clarity of the paper

7.       contribution to existing knowledge

* * * * *

We think that all these criteria relate more or less directly to developing a convincing argument:


What you should do to support the argument you develop in your paper


Why readers may find your argument unconvincing if you DON’T meet this criterion


The research question or problem must be clearly set-out


readers will find it difficult to understand what you are claiming to have found out about it.



How your management topic builds on the existing literature and reaches beyond what is already known must be demonstrated

Your theoretical position and how it relates to others must similarly be clearly set-out






may not be convinced that you have anything new to add.

readers may be unclear what theoretical ideas and tradition you are drawing on in developing your argument.



If you are reporting research you must show that the design is sound


readers will have no means of knowing whether you have adequate empirical backing for the claims you make about what you have found out.



If you are reporting data, it is necessary to present enough, and in sufficient depth, to support your claims about what you have found out


readers cannot verify that you really have found out what you are claiming.



Whether your discussion is theoretical or about management research findings, it is important to show how ideas or data support the claims you want to make in your conclusion


readers may be left with a set of generalised claims plus a lot of theoretical ideas or data, but no linkage showing how the ideas or data warrant acceptance of your claims in relation to the research question or problem.



Clear organisation and structuring of the paper are essential in enabling you to develop your argument logically from the introduction to the conclusion


readers may find it difficult to follow your argument and see how adequately you have backed your theoretical or empirical claims.



What contribution your paper is making to existing knowledge should be stated and justified by reference to literature and, where appropriate, your empirical findings


readers may not be convinced that you have added to what is already known, and so whether other conference participants are likely to find your paper interesting.

When drafting your submission, consider as you go how everything that you do to develop a convincing argument can help you to meet the submission criteria.