In order to generate the template, I will here abstract the rhetorical form of a paragraph of Quinn and Worline's paper "Enabling Collective Courageous Action" (Organization Science, 19 (4), 2008, pp. 497-516) from its specific content. In a future post, I will critique the way they "fill out" the template. Here is the paragraph:
Given the problems of collective action aboard Flight 93, a useful literature for helping explain events comes from the study of social movements (Davis and Thompson 1994, McAdam et al. 1996, Tilly 1978, Zald and Berger 1978) and particularly research on the framing of social movements (e.g., Benford and Snow 2000) because of its focus on language use. This perspective on collective action examines how people work within a social infrastructure to construct interests and mobilize resources. Rather than assume that actors’ interests are given, social movement scholars show how people create the conditions under which social action happens (McAdam et al. 1996). These literatures are limited, however, in addressing the interactive and discursive nature of real-time collective action. Social movement framing focuses on sensegiving rather than sensemaking and largely ignores how people manage the intense and often debilitating emotions that often accompany duress. (498)
The first step is to strip out all the content:
Given the problems of ____x____ in _________, a useful literature for helping explain events comes from the study of ____y____ (_________) and particularly research on ____z____ (e.g., _________) because of its focus on _________. This perspective on _____x____ examines how __________. Rather than assume that __________, ____y____ scholars show how _________ (_________). These literatures are limited, however, in addressing the __________ nature of __(mod)__ ____x____. ____z____ focuses on _________ rather than _________ and largely ignores how __________.
Notice what is going on here. The first sentence identifies a general notion (x) that is relevant to the particular empirical situation that the paper discusses. This notion is the located in a broader literature (y), and then focused by reference to a particular corner of it (z).
Throughout, we are told what the referenced literature "assumes", "shows", "focuses on", and "ignores", often using contrasts ("rather than"). It is important here to make sure that your work shares a focus (in Quinn and Worline's case, "language use"), eschews the same assumptions ("actors’ interests are given"), and seeks, in general, to show the same thing ("how people create the conditions under which social action happens").
But the crux of a paragraph like this is, of course, the identification of limits in the referenced literature. You are listing its accomplishments, we might say, mainly in order to identify its failings. That's where the opening for your contribution is established.
These literatures are limited, however, in addressing the __________ nature of __(mod)__ ____x____. ____z____ focuses on _________ rather than _________ and largely ignores how __________.
Notice the precision that this formula allows. The notion (x) that you share with the specific corner of the referenced literature (z) is restricted using an adjective (mod, i.e., "real-time" in Quinn and Worline's paper). And this restricted notion is further assigned a particular "nature". It is an understanding of this particular nature of the shared notion in a restricted sense that is beyond the "limits" of the existing literature. You can then go on to explain that this limit arises because the literature focuses on one thing at the cost of another, while almost entirely excluding something else. This orthodox focus ("sensegiving") should, of course, not be very interesting to you, while the generally accepted cost ("sensemaking") should not be acceptable to you. And what is "largely excluded" by the literature, finally, should serve some essential purpose in your own work.
On the surface, Quinn and Worline carry off this rhetorical task very nicely. In my next post, we will see whether they get the literature they cite right. That, of course, is important too when writing this sort of paragraph.