Many seminary courses require the writing of a research paper. These vary from three to one hundred pages. The earlier you can get started the better.
So how do you start? Remember the old saying "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." That's the way to tackle a paper-particularly a long one.
Let's first examine what research is not and what research is.
Research is not
- a compilation of facts and quotations. Writers must evaluate the ideas of others and draw conclusions of their own.
- only discourse of the writer's opinions. Writers must provide facts, data, and information from valid sources.
- a sermon. We often might use research as a basis for a sermon, but the two are very different. A sermon's purpose is to reach the heart and change people's lives. A research paper's goal is to inform and convince the reader. Sermons are oral and use all of the conventions of gestures and speech whereas; research papers depend only on the written word.
- a systematic search, analysis, and synthesis of information on a definable problem that either arrives at a solution or offers an informed opinion.
- objective. Research is not done with the heart but rather the head.
- is specific. In order to do quality research your subject must be fairly narrow. A 20-page paper on Augustine must be narrowed to a specific area of his life and work.