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RES 502 - Research Strategies: Assignment 5

Two credit online course for Associated Canadian Theological Schools

Background to the Assignment

Ultimately all research should end with a product that in some way advances human knowledge and understanding. That may seem like a lofty goal, but any purpose that is lower is bound to produce mediocre results.

In this assignment, you will be asked to demonstrate some of the results of your research as if you were writing an actual essay on your topics. In presenting this material, you need to provide me with a good sense that you have thought through the problems presented by your topics and that you have discerned a path toward responding to those problems.

Some things to keep in mind:

1. Every research project should have one (and only oneresearch question in mind, and you must be able to express it in one sentence. While that question may have sub-points to it, there must be a clear focus so that any reader can say, "I know what this writer is dealing with." Don’t try to solve all the problems of the world in one paper. Deal with one issue per research project. 

2. Your research question must be stated in such a way that it provides you with a direction to go. Don’t formulate a question like "I want to find out all about Lucretia Borgia." Make sure it is focused and directional: "Was Lucretia Borgia a poisoner?"

3. Research questions should normally not call just for the compiling of information (e.g. "What did Martin Luther say about indulgences?") but should try to solve a problem (e.g. "Was Martin Luther's stance on saving grace an over-reaction to the teaching of the church of his time or an accurate reading of the New Testament?") 

4. Take outlines seriously. Many research projects either succeed or fail on the basis of how your material is presented. Outlines are intended to help you to present information and arguments clearly so that readers can follow where you’re going easily.

Have a hard look at your bibliography:

Do you have a lot of fairly broad book and article titles in it, each of which might give you only a chapter or portion on your specific topic, or are the materials for the most part focused directly on your research question? 

2. Is there a lot of diversity of topics in your bibliography or are the items in it all pretty much on one thing (a lot of diversity in a bibliography usually means that direct relevance is limited)? 

Are your materials relatively recent? This will be less an issue for biblical studies and theology than for psychology or linguistics.

4. Is there too much emphasis on certain writers, certain journals, etc. or are your materials broadly representative of key people in the field?

This assignment should demonstrate that you have a good knowledge of the issues surrounding your topics and that you have a focused plan to deal with your research questions.

Assignment #5

[Click on the file link above to download a template in rich text format (works in most word processors).  It will form an outline so you can insert your answers under each heading. You can then submit the complete document to Prof. Badke by e-mail attachment].

Read any parts of the textbook you have not already read, and indicate that you have done so.

For each topic, do the following:

A. Present your final research question.

B. Provide an expanded outline of a paper you might write based on your final research question Include enough explanation of each heading to tell me what you intend it to contain. E.g., something like the following:


                                        THE MEANING OF THE TERM GOSPEL

Explanation of the fact that the Greek term "Gospel" seems to be used in a variety of ways 
in the NT.  Statement of research question.

I. The Term "Gospel" in its Ancient Greek Setting 
Analysis of the meaning of the word before Jesus and the Church got hold of it.
  A. Gospel in Secular Greek Authors
    B. Gospel in the Septuagint

II. The Term "Gospel" in the NT Preaching
    A. Acts

Explanation of the content of the term Gospel used in the NT preaching
    B. Paul's Writings

III. The Meaning of "Gospel" in Mark 1:1

Analysis of the meaning given to the term when used to describe one of the four Gospels

Statement of a definition of "Gospel" that covers the NT usage.     


C. Provide a bibliography of no less than 23 items, of which at least 8 must be journal articles [or essays or conference papers]based on your research question/outline. [You may have more articles and fewer books if your topic is new or in the social sciences or sciences.] Your bibliography will usually be compiled out of searches you have done in previous assignments, though you are free to add items from additional searches if you wish. This bibliography must be in Turabian Humanities (not Turabian Reference/Author-Date format) or APA style format. Note that there is both an outline and a bibliography required for each your two topics.

Each bibliography needs to be in alphabetical order by author. Do not number them and get the formatting right.

Some Tips:

  • If your topic is relatively new and lends itself more to journal literature, you may have more articles and fewer books than the numbers set out above, but you need to add a statement justifying the change.  The total number of 23 citations is still required and you must have a minimum of 8 articles or essays. 
  • You may include websites (use them sparingly and with careful choice of solid academic works).
  • You will be graded on the quality of your question and outline, relevance of your bibliography to your outline, quality of the resources cited, and conformity to the style format you have chosen. Your bibliography must be of sufficient size or your grade will be seriously diminished.


Rubric for Assignment Five.  Highest grade meets these criteria:

  • Research questions are very well formulated and make real contribution to study in the field.
  • Outlines form excellent guides for research on question and are set up to include all elements of the research questions, with no unnecessary points.
  • Bibliographies show high level of relevance and quality that is representative of the best material on the topic.
  • Bibliographies are in alphabetical order by author.
  • You have used correct bibliographical formatting.