Follow these general guidelines:
First: Get with God. Allow Him to reveal to you how and what to study.
1. Your work is to be original. This is an individualized, personal study.
2. No “stale manna” will be accepted. Your paper is to be formulated specifically for this course and is not to be something warmed over from another course.
3. Your work should generally follow the outline you’ve prepared. The purpose of your outline is to give a brief section-by-section indication of what exactly you plan to cover in this paper.
4. The purpose of a research paper is to prove something. You are taking the reader of your paper from the unknown to the known. This is done through a strong opening statement of purpose, clear logic throughout the body of the paper and a powerful summary/conclusion. Do not simply submit haphazard facts and comments.
5. Carefully select several commentaries on the Bible book you are drawing your paper from. The more you can review, the better you can filter through them.
6. Zero in on those passages you will use. Take notes and quotes. Categorize your rough notes according to where they will fit into your outline. List the sources you’ve used in your bibliography. Do the footnotes. You don’t want to have to go back and look them up later when you’re at the computer ready to type your first draft.
7. Do not be a slave to your outline, even a good one. If you have to change or modify your outline for the sake of better logic or focus: just do it.
8. A research paper is not a string of commentator’s quotes and Bible verses. Your paper embodies your thoughts which have developed from your research. When your summary really reflects the logic of your research, you can rest assured you comprehend that portion of God’s Word and can more easily apply it to your life.
9. Remember, your Bible is not considered a source. It is the foundation. Study Bibles, even good ones, should not be included in your bibliography nor used in footnotes.
10. Do not simply list books in your bibliography. The instructor should be able to go to the sources you’ve listed and find where your reasoning was based.
11. Start early. To begin a paper the night before it is due is useless. Give the Holy Spirit time to work. This is God’s business. You cannot complete a quality product on the spur of the moment. Meditate, pray, and let the Holy Spirit reveal to you the truth of a specific passage.
12. Stay spiritually alert! Research papers can be a great growth and development tool for your personal Christian life. Satan deals in discouragement and if he can get you to procrastinate, he can defeat you. He does not want you to discover what the Lord wants you to know. God wants you to know Him more intimately through His Word. He is pleased to reveal Himself as you “study to show yourself approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)