Theory Development and Writing Empirical Papers for Top-Tier Journals (2004TDW01)

Professor Viswanath Venkatesh, Ph.D.


Theory development and the associated theoretical contribution are at the heart of most papers published in leading journals in the social and behavioral sciences. Recognizing that this involves both art and science, this workshop will delve into both aspects. The emphasis on theory will be situated within the elements of an empirical journal article—including identifying a scientific gap and writing a good article. A broader emphasis of the workshop will be to situate theory within a research program and paradigms of research.

Books: Venkatesh, V. Road to Success: A Guide for Researchers in the Behavioral and Social Sciences, Dog Ear Publishing, 2011.
(Click here for student and faculty discount. You can purchase a copy of the book during the workshop)

Articles: Two primary types of articles will be assigned:
(1) articles that explain fundamental ideas related to the concepts and
(2) illustrations.


  1. To learn how to develop the motivation for research and by association, a paper.
  2. To build theory development skills and recognize the challenges in developing good theory.
  3. To learn to write front-end (especially theory sections) of empirical papers in the social and behavioral sciences.
  4. To situate the knowledge gained about theory and writing within the broad context of developing an effective research program.


The three-day workshop will be structured to be intensive and a combination of lecture and discussion. To get maximal value, participants are encouraged to read the assigned articles prior to the workshop. Additionally, we will work through specific exercises aimed at helping participants develop a specific paper. Through this process, participants will develop a significant understanding of how to write better papers, especially from the perspective of crafting a better story and developing better theory.


Participants should come with a paper that they seek to improve through their participation in this workshop. Each participant will have an opportunity to share a current paper, reflect on their paper, and present ideas related to how they feel they can move the paper forward.


Before the Workshop Readings
11 Introduction
12 Philosophy of Science
13 5-minute paper presentation by participants
14 Basics of theory development: Classical view
Evening “What am I missing” Reflecting on your paper
21 Building theoretical arguments
22Formulating research problems, gaps, literature review, synthesis
23 Context and theory
24 Writing empirical journal articles
Evening “How can I improve my paper?” Reflecting on revising your paper
31 Context and theory
32Time and theory (or) Situating within a research program
33 10-minute presentation by participants
34 10-minute presentation by participants

Professor Venkatesh may change this schedule and specific topics depending on the flow of the sessions as well as participants’ interests.

Workshop dates

Start: Thursday, April 2nd 2020, 9.00 a.m.
End: Saturday, April 4th 2020, 5.00 p.m.

Workshop venue

Yachthotel Prien am Chiemsee
Harrasser Str. 49
83209 Prien am Chiemsee

Social Events

There will be joint dinners and social events every evening (2nd, 3rd and 4th of April) with Professor Venkatesh including a chimney evening and get together in the hotel bar after the course. On Sunday, 5th of April we offer a joint trip with Professor Venkatesh to the Castle Herrenchiemsee. All fees are included in the registration fee (see registration).


To register for the workshop, please sign up here
The number of places is limited and will be allocated according to the “first come, first served” principle. The registration will be confirmed by e-mail together with the invoice for the event.

Participants will receive a certificate of attendance after successful participation in the course.

This workshop is conducted and carried out by the Chiemsee Academy.