Help For Writing Biblical/Theological Research Papers

If you’re a student enrolled in classes requiring research papers, you’ve probably heard about the excellent resource Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. If you’re a student or writer who has not heard of it, you need to get it today! It’s not a fun read, but it is super helpful for writing good papers.

Speaking of research papers, here’s a great little resource: From Topic to Thesis by Michael Kibbe. I’ve used this little booklet in my own postgraduate studies. It’s small, but very informative. Here are the chapter topics: 1) Finding direction, 2) Gathering sources, 3) Understanding issues, 4) Entering Discussion, and 5) Establishing position. Several appendices cover topics like big no-nos of research paper writing, tools for theological research and writing, and information on using the ATLA database.

I appreciated Kibbe’s discussion of secondary sources: “[T]hey guide your interaction with the primary sources,” and they “bring you into the conversation in which your paper is seeking a voice” (p. 37). I also thought Kibbe’s section on gathering sources was helpful. He explains how to do research without wasting your time following rabbit trails. Finally, some of his insights into managing a bibliography were also informative. For me, footnotes and bibliographies are the worst parts of research paper writing, so I’m all ears when people have methods of streamlining those things!

If you’re a seminary student, do get this book. Your professors will appreciate it! And for others who write theological or biblical research papers for various reasons, you’ll also benefit from this resource. As of today, From Topic to Thesis is around $12 at Amazon or $11 at Logos. That’s a small price to pay for a book that will save you time and help streamline your research paper writing.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

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