GUIDE FOR WRITTEN WORK

AUSTIN GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY

revised 2003

 

The following instructions apply to any written work prepared for classes at Austin Grad.  This guide is based on Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), which can be consulted for more detailed information.  All Austin Grad professors have agreed to these guidelines.

 

I.     GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS

        a. Use standard 8.5" x 11" white (unlined) paper of good quality for all work.

        b. Use one side of the sheet only.

        c. Center the title two inches from the top of the first page.  Capitalize all letters in the title.  Leave two blank lines between the title and the first line of text.

        d. Prepare a separate title page (see example document also available on this website).

 

II.    THE SHORT ESSAY:  an essay is a literary composition dealing with a given subject from a limited or personal viewpoint.

        a.  An essay should have a clearly defined purpose.  Most short essays fall into one of the following categories:

            i.      Presentation of the author's personal opinion on a given subject.

            ii.     Presentation in an organized manner of information relevant to a given subject.

            iii.    Presentation of a collection of viewpoints on a given subject.

        b. An essay is NOT a paraphrase of an article from a reference book.  It should be the product of your own reflection.

 

III.   THE BOOK REVIEW:  a book review consists of summary and evaluation of the work of another author.  It should include the following items:

        a.  Identify basic publication data (author or editor, title, publisher, date). If the book is an English translation of a foreign work, identify thetranslator.  If the book is part of a series, identify the series.

        b. Provide any relevant information about the author of which you are aware, such as areas of special expertise, previous publications on the same or related subjects, etc.

        c.  Identify the author's central thesis or purpose and explain briefly his or her methodology.  Identify the assumptions of presuppositions the author brings to the investigation.

        d. Explain how the book is organized and summarize briefly the topics and main points of each chapter.

        e. Evaluate the book in terms of the following kinds of questions (though not necessarily in the order presented).

              i.    Are the author's presuppositions, methodology, and approach valid and appropriate to the subject?  Does the author fail to discuss important aspects of the topic?

            ii.   How well does the author support his or her thesis?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of the argumentation?

            iii.  Do the book's conclusions agree with scholarly opinion as a whole on the subject or do they represent a significant departure?  What contribution does the book make to scholarly discussion of the topic?

            iv.  What issues does the book raise that call for further study and reflection?

 

IV.   THE RESEARCH PAPER:  The most important step in preparing a research paper is to choose the topic wisely.  The topic should be manageable (subject to adequate treatment within the number of pages allowed) and coherent (focused on a clearly defined issue or problem). Sometimes the topic is assigned. In that case your first objective is to understand clearly the depth and breadth to be covered in the paper. Understanding clearly the scope of your topic will help to give focus to your research and writing.  The greatest single problem of student writers is a lack of unity in their work.  That is, they do not come to a clear understanding of their task and then organize all material to support and carry out that task. "Padding" merely to gain extra pages and "going off on tangents" are two common symptoms of this problem.

        a.  Determine the scope of your subject and outline what you envision as various aspects of the paper.

        b. Gather information relevant to the subject.  Use index cards or a special notebook for recording useful data.  Explore the following sources in particular:

            i.    Reference books and encyclopedias.  These will give you general information and sometimes brief bibliographical suggestions but usually not a detailed study.

            ii.   The Card Catalog, particularly under subject headings.  Exhaust all the different possibilities. For example, if your subject deals with war, some headings you might check are "war," "ethics-war," "pacifism," "conscientious objection," etc.

            iii.  Indexes to periodical literature.  CD-ROM access to American Theological Library Association Religion Indexes is available in the library.  This index will point you to helpful periodical articles and essay material on biblical, religions, pastoral, theological, and church history-related topics.

        c.  Write a rough draft using your outline and the information you have gathered, inserting footnotes to show the sources of your information.

            i.    Footnotes serve several purposes.  They (1) establish the validity of evidence, (2) acknowledge indebtedness to sources, (3) direct other investigators to pertinent material, and (4) allow the writer to develop certain side points without interrupting the continuity of the text.

            ii.   If you use material from another author, you must give him or her credit by means of a footnoted citation.  To present another writer's work or thought as if it were your own is to be guilty of PLAGIARISM.  Plagiarism is a form of theft.

            iii.  Number footnotes consecutively (1, 2, 3, etc.) and place them at the end of the paper with corresponding references throughout the text.  This is easiest for the typist.  As an alternative (more convenient for the reader), you may place footnotes at the bottom of the pages to which they refer. NOTE:  Some samples of correct form for footnotes are displayed at the end of this document and in the example paper template available on this website.

            iv. Related to footnoting is the subject of quotations.  There are two ways to present direct quotations in your paper, depending upon their length. Short quotations (two lines or less) may be included in the text within quotation marks in the regular double-spaced format.  Longer quotations should be indented four spaces and single-spaced with a double space both before and after the quotation.  This is called a "block" quotation.  Block quotations should not be enclosed within quotation marks.

            v.   When quoting another author directly, it is permissible to omit material irrelevant to your purpose, but you must indicate that you are doing so by using "ellipsis points." 

 

                  If the omission occurs WITHIN a sentence, use three dots with a space before each one and space after the last one, as follows:

                        Hauerwas observes, "The world . . . assumes that it has no need to be forgiven."

       If punctuation occurs before the ellipsis, it is placed next to the word with no intervening space.  For example:

John A.Hostetler writes, "In keeping with Anabaptist practice, . . . the wicked and the obdurate members must be excluded from the group."

                 

       If the omission occurs at the END of the sentence, use four dots.  The first, placed immediately after the last word, is the period:

       Hayes and Holladay observe, "The Bible contains a rich diversity of literary forms. . . ."

            vi. When passages from the Bible are cited or quoted, the location can be indicated without using a footnote.  In your first reference to a text, write the name of the book in full along with the relevant chapter and verse numbers:  Genesis 5:3; Romans 6:4; I Thessalonians 2:15.  In subsequent references, you may use the standard abbreviations for biblical books (listed in the front matter of most Bibles): Gen. 6:4; Rom. 12:15; I Th. 3:2.  Cite consecutive verses in the same chapter by using a hyphen (Col. 3:1-3).  Non-consecutive verses in the same chapter should be separated by a comma (Heb. 5:1, 3; Job 3:1-6, 8).

        d. Prepare a bibliography, that is, a complete list, alphabetized according to authors' last names, of the sources that you consulted in writing your paper. NOTE:  Samples of correct form for bibliographical entries are displayed at the end of this document and on the example paper template available on this website.

        e.  After some time has passed, re-read your paper.  Read it first for mechanical errors, such as errors in punctuation, spelling, and capitalization.  Then read it aloud to see how one paragraph flows to the next.  Determine also whether the paper covers the area you intended and whether it answers the questions you set out to address.  Make any necessary revisions and type the final draft.

 

V.    CORRECT FORM FOR BIBLIOGRAPHIC ENTRIES AND FOOTNOTES

        In each example below, the first reference gives the proper form for a footnote, and the second gives the proper form for its corresponding bibliographic entry.  If one of your references does not fit any of the following categories, see Turabian's guide for further examples.  NOTE:  In the examples below, titles that are italicized should be underlined, if italics are not available on the computer system being used.  Never use both italics and underlining in the same text.

 

 

        a.  Book (one author)

 

           1Stanley Hauerwas, The Peaceable Kingdom (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983), 37.

 

Hauerwas, Stanley.  The Peaceable Kingdom.  Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983.

 

 

        b. Book (two authors)

 

        1John H. Hayes and Carl R. Holladay, Biblical Exegesis: A Beginner's Handbook, rev. ed. (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1987), 24-26.

 

Hayes, John H. and Carl R. Holladay.  Biblical Exegesis: A Beginner's Handbook.  Rev. ed. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1987.

 

 

        c.  Book in a Series

 

         1C. S. Mann, Mark: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Bible 27 (Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1986), 369.

 

Mann, C. S.   Mark: A New Translation with Introduction and CommentaryAnchor Bible 27. Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1986.

 

 

        d. Article in a Journal                          

 

         1James D. Hester, "The Rhetorical Structure of Galatians 1:11-2:14," Journal of Biblical Literature 103 (1984): 227.

 

Hester, James D. "The Rhetorical Structure of Galatians 1:11-2:14." Journal of Biblical Literature 103 (1984): 223-233.

 

 

        e.  Article in a Multi-Volume Bible Dictionary

 

            1W. F. Flemington, "Baptism," in Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, ed. George A. Buttrick (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962), 1:351.

 

Flemington, W. F. "Baptism." In Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, ed. George A. Buttrick, 1:348-353. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962.