Using the word "contribution" to describe your own work

Using the word "contribution" to describe your own work


contribution: the part played 
by a person or thing in bringing 
about a result or helping something 
to advance.



In research writing, we often see this sort of construction:


"This paper makes 3 contributions. 

First, it evaluates... Second, it compiles a

comprehensive dataset of...  Third it analyses..."


This is one way to interpret the word contribution: as a list of things a researcher does.  But are things a researcher does "contributions"?




It is possible that when readers ask "What's your contribution?" what they are really asking is,  "How does all the work you do advance our knowledge about something?"  

It is a tough question to answer.  And listing the things we do may not answer it.  Nor is something a contribution just because the writer says it is.




There is another way to address the "What's your contribution" question: come up with a good RAP.   With P, help readers see why everything you do will, in sum, advance the stock of knowledge.   With R and A show readers how you advance the stock of knowledge.

Showing is always harder than telling.  It requires us to think harder about what to write.  And that is precisely why we do not want to  resort to telling.

To learn more about how to write a good RAP, you can refer to our introductory textbook which lays out the RAP Method.

















Post by Varanya Chaubey
Image by Ali Shaker/VOA -, Public Domain,





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