GUIDELINES FOR AUTHORS
Numerous manuscripts that are sent to the editors of Research and Practice in Human Resource Management (RPHRM) have an inadequate emphasis on rigour and precision. Often this arises from non-adherence to the Instructions to Authors section, and consequently, many technical details have to be revisited by the authors in subsequent drafts. More frequently, the quality of the manuscript is related to an absence of sound structure. In these cases the ‘storyline’ is unfocused and an illogical sequencing of content is likely, as arguments are not presented in the English tradition of the strictly, linear logical development of ideas. In an endeavour to have a more efficient writing process, potential authors are encouraged to not only read recent editions of RPHRM (and follow the style and format), but to understand the function of key components of the ‘normal’ academic paper. The Editorial expectations, which are outlined below, may assist authors to generate publishable manuscripts with fewer drafts.
A comprehensive Abstract has three vital components. First, is the argument/debate/problem/issue, commonly referred to as the manuscript theme. This element is presented in one or two succinct, sentences. The second feature of a robust Abstract may outline the argument that will be presented, or it may contain a summary of the key findings/results/observations when the paper reports empirical findings. Normally, the former is to be found in a qualitative paper, and the latter approach is the format of the quantitative paper. Last, is a brief statement of the implications/consequences of the argument/findings in terms of human resource management (HRM). A more powerful conclusion is achieved if there is relevance for the Asia Pacific, which is the overall focus of RPHRM. These three elements of the Abstract provide the structure for the 1) Introduction, 2) Body, 3) Discussion, and 4) Conclusion of the Manuscript respectively. To meet layout requirements the Abstract must be only one paragraph and should be between 150 and 200 words.
An Introduction of three to five paragraphs is adequate for RPHRM. However, the Introduction, like the rest of the paper must be formulated in the English tradition of the logical development of ideas and notions. Specifically, this ideal applies to the construction of all paragraphs, which require three sections. First, is the opening statement (of one idea), which is referred to as the topic sentence (TS). A succinct TS defines the objective of the paragraph clearly, and shows that the author/s knows their content well. Second, is the defence of the TS, which is achieved with a number of sentences that explain and explore the TS in linear order from beginning to end. The presented points must be supported with relevant references and/or examples. Last, is the linking sentence that summarises the concept (idea of the paragraph) being argued and then makes a connection to the TS of the next paragraph. Thus a quality paragraph thoroughly argues or defends one major point (summarised in the TS), and a comprehensive, compelling ‘storyline’ is attained by several sequential paragraphs.
A quality Introduction features an informative concluding paragraph. The prime responsibility of the author/s is to engage the reader in the process of communication. This can be facilitated by closing the Introduction with a brief description of the content that will be presented in the following sections of the paper. The first to be presented is the Body of the paper.
The Body of the paper is an opportunity for the author/s to explore the theme or thesis of the paper. This section of the paper should contain the theoretical underpinning, which must be supported with references from the relevant literature. The development of this section is important, but is likely to be shorter in quantitative manuscripts, which will also employ a Methodology and a Results sections. The Results section will be supported with Tables, and numbers, as well as some descriptive text. In both the qualitative and quantitative approaches the Body of the paper will develop fully the points outlined in the Introduction, by providing supporting evidence.
The Discussion section places emphasis on comparing, discussing and evaluating alternative arguments. This section is a forum for the author/s to express and justify a position, rather than just presenting a series of quotations from earlier work. This is the part of the paper that enables critical examination of the Body (including Methodology and Results) of the paper.
A sound Conclusion is a compelling aspect of a quality paper. In this section of the paper the author/s are permitted to ‘soar like an eagle’ as the main points of the manuscript are summarised, preferably in the context of the Asia Pacific. This is the section of the paper where author/s are ‘invited’ to venture ‘beyond the edge’ by use of their information.