This research contributes to filling a considerable gap in academic literature dissertating on the application of CSR(corporate social responsibility) policies to address negative publicity.

Does "to address negative publicity" act as a complement in this context, if so, I guess it should complement application?

But I also understand that to tells the purpose, so can the sentence mean that "literature dissertates on the application of CSR policies in order to address negative publicity", and the infinitive would be linked to dissertates?

Under this context , does the infinitive function as complement or does it tell the purpose? Or can it be argued that both options are possible?

The entire paragraph is as follow:

Product or service failure should be seen as a chance for a corporation to prove their efforts and satisfy customers to keep them coming back. This research examines the findings of existing CSR (corporate social responsibility) literature regarding the recovery of corporate brand image supported by the legitimacy theory. Changes in consumers' perceptions are compared between Time0(the time when the negative incident such as food safety scandal occurs) and Time1(a year after). This research contributes to filling a considerable gap in academic literature dissertating on the application of CSR policies to address negative publicity. To that end, in this research, consumer behavior is examined in relation to corporate history of CSR implementation.

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    Your example sentence makes no sense. Could you include more of the context, or link to the original source? Either way, it's just awful writing.
    – Andrew
    Jun 19, 2019 at 5:42
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    Ah I see. It's an abstract of a scientific article. That's why the overly affected language. "Dissertating" is the main source of confusion as it's not a word, or rather, not the right word. I would have simply said "academic dissertaions".
    – Andrew
    Jun 19, 2019 at 6:38
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    Also "contributes to filling" is unnecessarily florid. Why not just "fills"?
    – Andrew
    Jun 19, 2019 at 6:39
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    It's a poorly written piece that is too technical to be clear. Nevertheless, I'm inclined to say that it's an infinitival relative clause modifying "policies".
    – BillJ
    Jun 19, 2019 at 6:49
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    It has a modal meaning comparable to that expressed in finites by "can" or "should": "... the application of CSR policies that can address negative publicity. That assumes it's a relative clause, which I'm not entirely sure about due to the poorly-written sentence.
    – BillJ
    Jun 19, 2019 at 7:29

2 Answers 2


This sentence is part of the abstract of a scientific article, which helps explains what I would consider overly florid (and somewhat pretentious) verbiage. Expressions like

This research contributes to filling a considerable gap ...

should be simplified to

This research fills a considerable gap ...

Or, if this sounds too presumptive, then something less assertive like:

This research addresses a considerable gap ...

Meanwhile, "academic literature dissertating on" includes the gerund form of the mostly unused verb "dissertate". Why not write it with less fanfare?

academic dissertations on ...

For the record, these expressions aren't incorrect, but they are awkward. They draw attention to themselves. When writing scientific articles, you want the reader to think about what you are saying, rather than be distracted by how you are saying it.

With all that out of the way: Because this sentence is poorly written, it's difficult to say which noun the writer intends "to address negative publicity" to complement. As written, the preposition "to" suggests the phrase defines why, not what, and so logically seems to fit more with "applications". To paraphrase:

... applications (of some sort) for the purpose of addressing negative publicity.

However it's possible the writer intends the phrase to complement the "policies" that companies apply. If this is true, I would have written:

CSR policies that address negative publicity.

Again, since we're dealing with a writer who seems to think grandiloquence is more important than clarity, it's hard to say which is true.

  • Thank you so much for the answer, one question that still confuses me is that whether the author is intending the gerund form "dissertating" to be participle that modifies "academic literature" .
    – jian nini
    Jun 20, 2019 at 4:56
  • I disagree with the first part of this answer. This research is intended to do (something). Only the reader/wider community can say whether or not if fills the gap that was identified, so it would be premature of the author to state as a fact, in a scientific document, that it did. This style of writing is normal for an academic context.
    – MikeB
    Jun 20, 2019 at 11:48
  • @MikeBrockington That's fair. If "fills" is too presumptive, then how about, "This research addresses a gap"? The point is that this synopsis could use a good editor.
    – Andrew
    Jun 20, 2019 at 14:42
  • I think we both agree that this passage is a long way away from 'normal conversational English', so is not a good template for learning anything other than how to write an academic paper, but in that regard the only thing that is really wrong with it is the use of 'dissertating'. My choice would actually be: "this research attempts to ..."
    – MikeB
    Jun 20, 2019 at 15:18

Does "to address negative publicity" act as a complement in this context, if so, I guess it should complement application?

No, it acts as a complement to "CSR ... Policies".

  • Given this sentence is very poorly written, and so difficult to know exactly what the writer is trying to say, if the phrase really complemented "policies" it should have been written, "policies that address negative publicity". Instead my feeling is that is complements "application"
    – Andrew
    Jun 19, 2019 at 16:19

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