Write a Research Paper Now?
- Internationals’ visa status depends on your student
status. Many courses will not
require you to turn in a research paper until the end of the
semester. If anything happened
before then and a government wanted to know about your student status, PTS
will have this paper as evidence of your work written and submitted
here. After PTS has this paper, no
one could make a claim that you are unable to write at the graduate level
in English (for example, in case someone claimed that your previous
writing sample is not enough proof of your ability, since someone else
might possibly have edited it before you submitted it).
- PTS is very strict about plagiarism. Plagiarism is not only intentionally
pretending someone else’s writing is yours, but it also includes when you
use someone else’s idea in your paper without citing it correctly. It does
not matter if it was an unintentional mistake. If the format of your
citation, reference, or grammatical markers (such as quotation marks) is
incorrect, you are probably plagiarizing. If the professor or preceptor
notices your plagiarism, you will receive a failing grade, an academic
alert, probation, suspension, or termination of enrollment at the seminary
according to the decision of the appropriate committee. This assignment is
a good chance to practice citation and to find out from the feedback that
you did it correctly.
are many styles of academic papers. You
will be required to learn how to write various types of papers while you are
here. The American-style research paper is the most important to master because
it earns the largest % of your grade in a class. Trying it now will help you later, rather
than having to learn during the busy semester along with the other types of
American papers you will also learn.
- The American style has
grammar, writing style, citation requirements, and cultural differences
that are different from papers accepted in other cultures. PTS professors and preceptors will not
usually be understanding just because you are international. They will grade your papers with the
same expectation and standards they have for native English speakers,
American academic culture, and American church culture.
- Types of American Papers:
- Reflection paper (1-2
- your reaction to assigned
- a thesis statement might
not be necessary – check with your professor
- Case Study response paper (5-10 pages)
- your answer of how to
respond to a practical theology situation
- Essay (5-12 pages)
- Exegesis paper (10-25 pages)
- interpretation of a Bible
- some require use of Hebrew
or Greek, others do not
- How to Write an Exegesis
Paper by John Drury:
- Church History paper (15-30 pages)
- this is the only long
paper which might not need a
thesis – check with your professor
- Research paper (15-30 pages)
- Thesis (60+ pages)
- serious scholarly
* These page numbers are
- This paper will not be
graded. It is so you can receive
free feedback about what is and is not acceptable in the American style
before you write a paper that will be graded and affect your GPA.
- Other new students have not
arrived yet so you can easily learn how to use the library resources and
get help now while it is not busy.
- You can learn new
technologies for conducting research and citations now. Since other students have not arrived
yet, if you have questions or difficulties with the technology, IT
Services can quickly help you while they are less busy.
- You can pick a topic that
you are already interested in researching for one of your fall
courses. This is a chance to make
yourself get a head-start, and
you can use the research findings you do now in your upcoming class. Or, you can write a paper that you would
like to turn into a future conference presentation or journal article.
- If you are interested in the topic “God, Death, and the
Afterlife: Reflections on Time and Eternity,” and write on a topic such as
the next life, the significance of Christ's death, Christ’s descent into
hell, or who will be saved, you can submit your paper as an article to be
published in the next issue of PTS’ student-run journal The Princeton Theological Review. The rules to submit the paper are on
their website. The submission
deadline is September 30th.
- Be prepared for the Writing
Sessions so you can get your questions answered and receive advice on your
work during the sessions.
- EOP staff are available during Office Hours (schedules in
your itinerary). Feel free to ask
us for advice, proofreading, and assisting you in the library or with
using online databases during these times. We are native English speakers
and have experienced grading by PTS professors. Being available to help
you with this research paper assignment is part of our job, so get your
- Ask friends to check your
paper after you finish writing it, before you submit it. In American culture,
it is perfectly fine to do this. We call it peer editing.
- Use either Zotero or EndNote
computer application to collect and make citations easily. Zotero is
always free. EndNote is free for PTS students to use on campus (you must
uninstall EndNote or purchase your own license directly from EndNote when
you are no longer a current student). The IT department provides support,
including assistance with installation and training.
- Use The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White.
This thin book explains composition style, and common grammar and spelling
mistakes. It is so famous that people call it “Strunk and White” as a
- Use the official Turabian
- Use the Chicago Manual of
Style. It is almost exactly the same style as Turabian. The whole book is
- Log in to PTS Community at
http://our.ptsem.edu and download the Writing
Center Style Guide PDF file from
- Use A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations
by Kate L. Turabian,
Wayne C. Booth, Gregory Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, and the University of
- Read some of John Drury’s
sample papers: research papers, exegetical papers, short essays, and
- You cannot modify a past
- A friend cannot write your
paper for you.
- At PTS, due dates are
strict. Extensions are given only in exceptional circumstances, most of
which require a note from a doctor or other professional. We want you to practice budgeting your time to meet a
deadline so you will never miss an assignment due date for one of your
Selecting a Topic
America, a paper topic must be very narrow.
start by thinking of a broad topic and then make it continually more specific
until the topic is narrow.
can be narrowed by:
- Geography – A paper about
missions in China is too big, but a paper about how missions impacted
people in a specific village is good.
- Time Period – A paper about
sacred objects is too big, but a paper about changes in church décor
during the English Reformation is good.
- Source – A paper about the
History of Biblical Interpretation is too big, but a paper about Rabbi
Ishmael’s interpretation in Bereshit
Rabba (Genesis midrash) is good.
- Comparison/Relationship – A
paper about women in the Old Testament is too big, but a paper about the
relationship between Samson’s mother and an angel in contrast to that of
Samson’s father and the angel is good.
- Specific Application – A
paper about the doctrine of adoption is too big, but a paper about how
John Wesley’s understanding of the doctrine of adoption applies to
orphanage ministry is good.
- narrow by subject—theology
- then narrow by time
period—theology of baptism during the Reformation
- then narrow by person—John
Calvin’s understanding of baptism
- then narrow by
source—Calvin’s understanding of baptism in chapter 15 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion
- then narrow by relationship
— Calvin’s understanding of the relationship between baptism and the
church in chapter 15 of the Institutes
must justify its own existence. The
first paragraph must explain why you wrote it and why someone should read it.
- American style means you
must sell your idea to the reader. You cannot assume the reader will agree
with your idea, even if you know your professor might like it. Your professor might have the same opinion as you, but your
preceptor who is grading your paper, may not. You need to argue using
evidence to convince the reader that you are right.
- American style is straight
to the point. You can use creativity in the first paragraph to catch the
reader’s attention if you want, but the most important thing in the first
paragraph is the thesis statement. This is what your professor will look
for first. Your professor will think about your thesis statement while
reading your paper to see if you justify its claims and if you go
- Do not worry that you are
giving away the punchline ending of the paper. The professor wants to know
from the beginning what your claim is so he/she does not have to guess
where you are going with your arguments. At the end of the paper, you will
re-word your thesis statement and perhaps add in a few additional facts as
your summarizing final paragraph.
a Thesis Statement?
- A thesis statement is a
brief promise to the reader of what he/she can expect from your paper.
- It explains briefly the
narrow topic of your paper.
- It states your conclusion or
gives a hint of your conclusion.
- It can be one sentence or
more than one sentence, but it should be as brief as possible.
Write a Thesis Statement?
- Before Research – if you can
guess the answer to the question you will research, write that hypothesis
as a thesis statement to guide your research. This will help you avoid
spending time reading parts of a text that are not pertinent to your
topic. At this point, you do not need to be sure or commit to the thesis
- During Research – look for
facts that match or do not match your statement and revise it as you learn
more. Keep an open mind. At this point, the thesis statement is still to
help you keep your topic narrow and look for only pertinent information.
As you learn more, you will realize if your thesis statement should adapt
to your findings.
- After Research – when you
are mostly finished with research, revise the thesis statement to reflect
what you now know about the topic, or if you decided to switch your focus
or narrow the topic further.
- After Writing – after you
finish writing your paper, look at the thesis statement again and check if
all the arguments in your paper apply to the thesis statement. If there is
a claim in the thesis statement that you did not prove in your argument,
add that argument. If you made an important argument in the paper that was
not mentioned in the thesis statement, add mention of it in the thesis
statement. If you ran out of time to include an argument that you had
promised in the thesis statement, remove it from the thesis statement.