Library Notes Research Notes

The Research Cycle

In many of our courses we ask students to work on research papers. The research cycle is a series of stages to help students have a preliminary idea on what research contains as well as work through the process of researching information and drawing conclusions. The research cycle consists of the following stages (this research format from “Teaching Tip: Teaching the Research Cycle.” Accessed April 12, 2021.

1. Developing a general research question
Their should be a general question that you would like to investigate on your topic of choice. It is important early on to choose a topic that is of deep personal interest, otherwise the long process of researching and writing will be drudgery. For example, if you were interested in the Youth ministry in urban spaces you might ask “What are some criteria one must look at when developing youth ministry in an urban space?”

2. Doing preliminary research on the topic
Once you have a general question to guide you on your topic, you should start to do some basic research to gain a better understanding of the background and major issues surrounding your topic and your question. For example, if you wanted to know more concerning Youth ministry in urban spaces you might start to look at what other scholars or thinkers have written/spoken about concerning youth ministry in urban spaces.

3. Refining the research question
After you have done some preliminary research you should consider what you have learned and narrow down your research question to something more detailed or specific. Keep in mind that research questions tend to link two factors (variables), one of which might affect the other. For example, once you have seen what some thinkers have claimed concerning youth ministry, you might change your research question to “how does economy effect urban spaces and youth ministry?”

At this point you might also share some of your research findings and questions with others to get some feedback from them on the direction your research has taken and other questions or issues you might want to consider.

4. Doing more detailed research to answer the refined question
Once you have narrowed down your question you will need to do a little more research to fill in information that might be missing from your initial research. With your more narrowed down question you can find more precise information and go into more detail. For example, you might look at the effects of youth ministry in diverse economic urban spaces.

5. Drawing conclusions/developing a thesis
You know you have completed your research when you are able to draw conclusions and answer your refined research question. At this point you will be able to develop your thesis. For example, your thesis might be “how economic factors affect youth ministry in urban spaces and ways of reshifting focus towards more positive results.”

6. Present findings/answer to the research question
After you have drawn your conclusions and developed your thesis, you then need to organize your findings in a way that will allow you to share your research and conclusions with others. At this point you should present your research conclusions, usually as a thesis, and then support your conclusions with arguments developed through your research. Keep in mind that each discipline has its own accepted way of writing up such research reports, and that students need to know what is appropriate in your discipline.

Past Events Writing Notes

Writing Center Workshop Video Lecture

On March 27, 2021, NYTS offered a Writing Center Workshop centered around the task of reflective writing. Below you will find the recorded video lecture as well as the presentation in powerpoint.

Writing Notes

Books that Help with the Craft of Writing

Whether you are just beginning your seminary experience, or are well into your process, writing is a critical component of your success. All of your professors require that you submit papers that require you to reflect on, or critically engage thoughts and ideas by way or writing. This writing is on a level that is not encountered within the day to day encounters, but specifically within the field that you are working in, be it theology, pastoral care, cultural studies, or religious education. Each field contains its own language, and holds to a certain style of writing. Your task is to assess what is required, and develop your writing within that framework.

Part of what is required comes out of the readings that the professor provides; another part comes from the assignments that the professor requests in their syllabus. By joining the these components, your task as the student and writer is to begin the art of writing by planning, outlining, writing introductions, writing paragraphs, rewriting and then writing concluding paragraphs.

Often times we can reach out to the writing center (you can make an appointment by clicking here); you can also reach out to your peers and have them read what you have written (having a group that meets on occasion to help with writing is a wonderful exercise). But whether you are just beginning, or even a seasoned writer, it is helpful to have certain books in your library that will help you in the craft of writing. Below are some texts every seminarian should have in their library. Some are on the art of writing, some are geared specifically for writing in seminary or theological settings. But they are important for your success!

Happy Writing!

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. Fitzgerald. The Craft of Research. Fourth Edition. University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Core, Deborah. The Seminary Student Writes. Chalice Press, 2000.

Thurman, Susan, and Larry Shea. The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment. Simon and Schuster, 2003.

Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Ninth edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.

Vyhmeister, Nancy Jean. Quality Research Papers: For Students of Religion and Theology. Zondervan, 2009.

Yaghjian, Lucretia. Writing Theology Well: A Rhetoric for Theological and Biblical Writers. New York: Continuum, 2006.

Teaching Notes

Wabash Article: Online Classrooms as Porous Spaces

Article written by Katherine Turpin, Iliff School of Theology

Here is an except:

When we first move into online classroom spaces, we often miss the dynamic energy of gathered bodies in a familiar location. We lose the immediate gratification of watching in real time as new knowledge “clicks” for students in discussions and class activities. Online classrooms may initially feel sterile, artificial, and indistinguishable from one another in our learning management system.

With time and experience in teaching in online classrooms, we may begin to reconsider how a traditional residential classroom is also an artificial space…There is nothing “natural” about a classroom with 12-200 students in it all trying to learn the same things at the same time, regardless of their existing experience or knowledge. What feels “traditional” about this education is actually a factory model of education largely adopted during the industrial revolution for the sake of increasing access to and efficiency of education for the masses.

To read more, go to:

Teaching Notes

Upcoming Webinars By The Wabash Center

Upcoming (Free) Webinars!
New Resources for Online Teaching

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the AAR is working to gather and disseminate resources to help instructors navigate the new challenges they’re facing. Below is information on two upcoming webinars geared toward teaching remotely. We encourage members to sign up and/or share in their own networks.

Engagement in the Online Classroom

Friday, April 3 (Today!)
3:30PM ET

If you’ve recently had to make the shift from face-to-face classes to online teaching, be sure to join Amy Hale and Brian Pennington of the AAR’s Teaching and Learning Committee for this free webinar on simple yet effective techniques for increasing engagement in the online classroom. And if you haven’t already, check out the committee’s collection of tips and articles on online teaching.

Register for Engagement in the Online Classroom

Religion, Public Health, and COVID-19: Tips and Tools for Teaching about Religion Remotely

Thursday, April 9
12:00PM ET

In this free webinar hosted by the Public Scholars Project, panelists will discuss how scholars of religion can share research about religion and public health, teach about religion remotely with fair grading options, manage tenure processes, and speak about religion and medicine with different publics. The webinar will include a presentation and extended Q&A.

Co-presenters include:

  • Lee H. Butler, distinguished service professor of theology and psychology at the Chicago Theological Seminary
  • Ellen Idler, director of Emory’s Religion and Public Health Collaborative
  • Pamela Klassen, professor in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto
  • Doug Oman, associate adjunct professor in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Phillis Isabella Sheppard, associate professor of religion, psychology, and culture at Vanderbilt Divinity School

Register for Religion, Public Health, and COVID-19

Research Notes

Academic Online Research Tips

Research is changing. Typical theological research required one to navigate the stacks, the rows of library stacks with number systems that only a catalog could make sense of. Although there is a beauty and nostalgia to this, the world is quickly amassing research at every moment. That is what makes internet search very valuable. It brings virtually all available information to your screen in a matter of clicks.

However, it is never a clean process; While it may be simple to search on Google for Black Theology, performing quality, reliable academic research online is a little more complex. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you do your research, and you should be able to find everything you’re looking for.