Maintenance person or architect? The role of academic advertising research in building better understanding

Gayle Kerr and Don Schultz

Queensland University of Technology


One of the earliest pieces of advice given to most new researchers seeking to get their work published is to concentrate on filling in the gaps in the literature. Thus, the approach is to begin with a strong literature review, including foundational models, often from 1960s and 1970s, and then look for what has not yet been addressed. That gap in the literature then becomes the focus of research output. While this strategy might work well for a rather static field such as biology or chemistry, since it clearly enhances and reinforces previous research, it does not encourage researchers to think outside the existing body of knowledge. It also leads new researchers to assume that any gap must be filled, rather than seeking to identify those that are most important. Thus, the methodology and approach positions researchers as ‘maintenance people’, whose role is to fill holes, rather than build better advertising paradigms. Yet there has been sufficient change in the advertising discipline in the last decade to demand a new vision for academic advertising research, rather than routine development of incremental knowledge.