SECTION ONE: Introductory paragraph (circa 250 words or so) must include
READ VERY CAREFULLY ALL OF THE FOLLOWING IMPORTANT DIRECTIONS (ROMAN NUMERALS I-V) AND THEN RE-READ AND FOLLOW THEM—RELIGIOUSLY!
Students are required to submit a 2000-word research paper, limited to the critical review of two major sources. Papers must be submitted on time to receive full credit. Late papers will be lowered one-third of a complete letter grade for each day they are submitted past the due date (thus, a “B+” paper submitted one day after the due date will be lowered to a “B”, a “B” paper that is two days late would merit a “C+,” and so forth). If you think you will have problems with any aspect of writing this paper, I strongly recommend that you make an appointment at the University’s Writing Center.
[“Writing and Submission of Major Paper”]
The term paper / research paper for this course must be prepared in advance of the final weeks of the semester. It is assigned in FOUR stages so that you can manage this highly important assignment (35 percent of your final grade in the course!). You must complete this assignment to pass the class. After all: if you aren’t writing, you probably aren’t thinking—much less learning!
The final draft of the term paper (stage 4) must be submitted via the Blackboard link to turnitin.com. All papers and writing assignments must include an MLA-style “Works Cited” list and must use parenthetical citations whenever you make reference to your sources (no matter whether you are quoting from, paraphrasing, or summarizing them).
Please read carefully all of the handouts about writing the term paper (or “research paper”) for a detailed guide to how grades are determined on this assignment – and others. Writing is graded primarily on the basis of content, organization, and how clearly you communicate your ideas. However, to communicate clearly, you also need to use proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, concision, and so forth. Finally, I strongly recommend that each and every one of you make an appointment with the University’s Writing Center.
III. THE FOUR STAGES IN DETAIL
STAGE 1) TERM PAPER TOPIC PROPOSAL (i.e., “POSING A GOOD RESEARCH QUESTION”): You will have to examine carefully your own interests within the subject area of “The New Testament” in order to come up with a research question that truly motivates youpersonally (and not necessarily Brenner)! At the same time, the question should not be too belief-based, too bland, or too broad – the latter implying that you can address the question in approximately 2000 words or more.
Hence, the “deliverable” – what you turn in for this first stage — is a brief statement(using at least THREE complete sentences) of your provisional/working research question. There is no need to have a provisional/working thesis (i.e., answer) at all at this stage…
This RESEARCH QUESTION is DUE via email on the date listed on the schedule!
At the same time, YOU will have to base your actual question on ONE of the following TWO “guiding” research questions; no other (types of) questions will be allowed!
Thus, your main job in this first stage of the assignment is to formulate your own, more narrow research question. That question will limit the scope of one of the guiding research questions, so that you can keep your paper within 2500 – 3000 words. To learn how to narrow down a bigger question, please read (and then re-read!) carefully the “Practice Quiz on Formulating Research Questions” (already in our Blackboard “Course Content” folder, inside the “Term Paper” folder).
AGAIN: choose one and only one of the following as your “guiding” research question:
IMPORTANT TIP: Always consult the Ehrman textbook first in developing your questions! You should re-read Ehrman’s contributions and suggestions. Then you might consider looking up some of the books/articles/resources that he recommends. In short, there is no excuse in writing this paper if you have not consulted the main texts carefully and thoroughly (i.e., Ehrman and the New Testament itself)!
EQUALLY IMPORTANT TIPS: When narrowing down one of these two research questions—and don’t forget to narrow it down to your own, more specific question!–you MUST avoid asking any question that is: too BLAND (not debatable), too BROAD (not narrowed down enough), or too BELIEF-BASED (not provable using historical-critical analysis of the text of the New Testament OR using historical research on the era in which it was written and/or canonized).
On that final type of “bad” question: you are not analyzing if you are advocating. So, your academic/research essays should never be statements or proofs of your beliefs/theology/etc. Rather—and this is crucial — the only legitimate evidence in NT scholarship is: 1) the NT itself(or related writings excluded from the NT canon); and/or 2) archeological evidence or documents/writings from the time of the NT. (That means: even if God/Jesus/divine beings speakto you about your paper, what He/She/they say does not count as evidence in a research paper written for this academic/university setting!)
Your TERM PAPER RESEARCH QUESTION (i.e., at least THREE complete sentences) is DUE via email to firstname.lastname@example.org by the due date provided in the course schedule (SEPT. 24)
STAGE 2) SECONDARY SOURCES IN FULL: You may proceed to this stage if (and only if) I have approved of your stage 1 submission. Based on your stage 1 research question and somepreliminary reading and thinking (i.e. preferably writing) about it, you will email me COMPLETE COPIES OF AT LEAST TWO SECONDARY SOURCES related to that topic or question. These should be articles or book chapters that you have found using: 1) my recommendations (in a folder on the Blackboard); or 2) the online database “JSTOR” which is available on the UHD libraries’ website.
Unfortunately, you will probably not find two sources that address your question/topic perfectly. More significantly: 1) each of these sources should be from JSTOR; 2) the two sources should add up to at least 30 (THIRTY) pages total; 3) each single source should be no older than 1995 (nothing more than 20 years old!); 4) each of them should be EMAILED to email@example.com IN THEIR FULL-TEXT FORM, preferably as a PDF file; 5) . In addition, you are not serious about this research paper assignment until you have formatted those two sources for me, in the body of your email, using MLA formatting. (MLA format for “Works Cited” lists can be found on the Purdue University OWL website, among manyother places).
Please do not make me have to check to see whether you followed these directions!In short, you can’t just Google and find your two sources; and you cannot pick out anything without my approval.
CAUTION: You need to email me a copy of the COMPLETE TEXT of the source–not just a URL, a link, or a citation! If you don’t provide these sources to me (your main reader), I might presume that you are lacking ethos, i.e., that you not serious about working like a reputable researcher. Rather, you need to “fight fair” (in scholarly terms) by showing me evidence for each of your claims.
THESE TWO OR MORE TERM PAPER SOURCES (i.e., at least two complete articles of at least 30 pages total) ARE DUE via email by the date on the schedule/calendar (OCT. 7).
STAGE 3) If (and only if) I have approved your term paper sources, you should begin DRAFTING your term/research paper, the form/genre of which is a critical review essay. Your main objective in such an essay is to analyze/review/evaluate each of two sources intensively/seriously. That means: you will be using the scientific criteria (or “standards”) of humanities and/or social sciences in order to give reasons why the sources represent good or bad research. (Clearly, then, you are not writing an essay based on “personal opinion” or “advocacy.”)
The resulting rough draft – of at least 1500 words — is consequently a type of analytical “book review” (what scholars call a “secondary literature review”). As you might guess, such a critical review essay is not at all your high-school “book report.” You should thus at no pointbe simply summarizing the sources. Instead, you must at every point be analyzing them, critically and carefully.
First, of course, you must figure out each source’s thesis (main point) –admittedly not a simple task.
Second, you must offer informed critique and/or appreciation of the methods, logic, and evidence found in each source, thereby showing that you understand how to write (and therefore think) like a scientist/scholar/researcher.
Third, in quoting directly your sources, or paraphrasing or summarizing them, you must follow that quote, paraphrase or summary with a) the name of the author(s) of the source, and b) the relevant page number(s) in parentheses. (See proper MLA guidelines for preparing “parenthetical citations”!) In addition, no more than 25 percent of your essay should consist of direct quotations from your sources. In other words, you must provide “parenthetical citations” — i.e., the name of the author(s) and the page numbers in parentheses — when you are referencing any information that is not “common knowledge” and even when you are NOT quoting your sources directly. As a result, you should paraphrase or summarize your sources more than quoting from them directly. Nonetheless, you must always demonstrate that your essay does NOT contain ANY unsupported claims (or worse, “opinions”).
Now, such an essay is clearly not an easy kind of paper to write. What you should be doing initially—while “critically reading” your sources (even before you start drafting) — is asking each of the questions found in “Brenner’s Top Ten Criteria for Evaluating Secondary Sources” and posing those questions to each of your sources. Assuming you have read your secondary sources carefully, you should start by asking just one of the three most challenging “Ten Criteria” questions (about “accuracy,” “objectivity,” or “sufficiency.”) Then you should read through the entire source seeking an answer to it. And then ask another question, and repeat the process until you’ve covered at least the three most challenging criteria.
Clearly, many of the secondary sources you are examining, especially if they are peer-reviewed, will not make any obvious mistakes that lead them to “fail” any of the ten evaluative criteria. Instead, you will likely only have to find reasons why the sources are such goodresearch. Consequently, you should not be writing sentences such as “this source is the greatest one ever to address this criterion” or that “this source fails completely to address this criterion.” Too much appreciation or too much criticism in your ultimate “write-up” of these results–i.e., a well-written, well-organized essay—ends up making you look less credible.
Since most undergraduates are not accustomed to using these evaluative criteria, I am clearly not expecting a professional (or professorial!) performance on this assignment. Yet without learning to analyze research according to these kinds of criteria, you will not learn how to do real analysis, a component of critical metacognition, i.e., reflection.
THIS ROUGH DRAFT (a minimum of 1500 words) IS DUE via email by the date on the schedule (OCT. 26)!
STAGE 4) If (and only if) I have approved stage 3 of your assignment, you may then proceed to THOROUGHLY revise your rough draft into a final draft. This fourth and final stage of the term paper assignment does not mean you must only correct some small issues (spelling, grammar, and mechanics) and upload it to turnitin.com link. Instead, read carefully my advice/tips for final drafts, another document to be found within the “Term Paper” folder on the Blackboard course website.
Rather than just some micro-level changes, you should be revising the rough draftsignificantly /globally/ radically. Of course, at the same time you are rethinking the entire essay, you might also strive to make your individual sentences more clear and concise for the readers of your essay (who are not “mind readers,” after all).
AGAIN: You must revise thoroughly and substantively. Since the stage 4 assignment is worth 20% of your final grade, this does not mean you must only correct some small issues/items (e.g., mechanics/spelling/grammar). Rather, it requires you to revise significantly and radically the content of your critical review essay. That means you should be prepared to throw away complete paragraphs, write new ones, or seriously re-order the ones you have written.
THIS FINAL DRAFT OF THE TERM PAPER – which should be at least 2000words–IS DUE via the course Blackboard website link to turnitin.com. THE DUE DATE to upload is the date on the schedule (NOV. 23)
IV. THE STRUCTURE/OUTLINE OF TERM PAPER IN DETAIL
ESPECIALLY STAGE 3 AND STAGE 4
SECTION ONE: Introductory paragraph (circa 250 words or so) must include