Each year students arrive at NBC with the hope of “growing in their walk with Christ” or “learning more about God.” These are terrific goals to bring to college and we sincerely trust that you will achieve this in your time here. One of the key places that this will occur is in the classroom and in your studies.
Teaching was an essential component of Jesus’ ministry to his disciples. He consistently showed them what they believed to be true and how it compared to what was actually true. At times, there was plenty of overlap and other times there was not. Academic study requires diligence, patience and discipline. When we approach study properly we should be able to truly worship as we come to know our God more and more. I sincerely hope and pray that this is your experience as a student at NBC. It is vital that we not only have the passion to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ but also the content to deliver.
1 Corinthians 15 is Paul’s assessment of things of first importance that need to be ‘passed on’ to the next generation. There is a need to see students learn well in order that they might be the ones fitted with the mantle of passing on these things to the next generation. Take the challenge to study to show yourself as one approved (2 Timothy 2:15)!
On this webpage you will find our academic policies and our format requirements. These are in place for you to understand how to live well within the culture of NBC and better communicate your thoughts and ideas.
Grace and peace,
Each individual student is registered for the program of their choice. Counseling of undecided students in the area of program and academic load should be done prior to registration if possible, or shortly thereafter. Three-year students are encouraged not to make program changes after the middle of their Junior year, unless the alternate program requirements have already been met.
Our International Student Advisor, Lindsay Anderson, is available to answer questions regarding academics and to work with any international students requiring additional assistance with their studies.
Hours: Mon-Fri 8:15-5:00
Course Registration Changes
Registration changes or withdrawals for non-required courses should be done as soon as possible. Withdrawal after the third class period of the course will result in the loss of tuition fees for the course. In no case will tuition be refunded for withdrawals after September 30.
Withdrawals after 3 days of class will be shown on the transcript. Withdrawals after 1/2 of the course classes will receive an "F" grade. The Registrar must be consulted for all registration changes. Following are the transcript designations:
WF = Withdrawal – Failing
WP = Withdrawal – Passing
Ex = Extension Granted
F = Fail
Students auditing a course are not required to complete assignments or take examinations, but simply take the course for their personal enrichment. No credit is granted for auditing a class, but students must register for the class. The fee for auditors is 50% of the regular tuition rate. Those who audit a course(s) are still required to attend all classes and be attentive.
All audit registrations require Registrar approval. Students cannot drop an audit class without first consulting the Registrar. Changes from audit to credit or credit to audit must be made within the time allowed for course changes.
As a Christian student, it is assumed you desire to be a good steward of the learning opportunities provided at NBC. The following guidelines are designed to aid you, your fellow students, and your instructors in achieving these goals during your time here.
One of the guiding principles of the NBC community is mutual respect and courtesy. Leaving the classroom while class is in session is a distraction and disruption to fellow students and the instructor. Therefore, students are asked not to leave during class except for illness related needs, as breaks are provided throughout classes.
Students are also expected to refrain from distracting activities or behaviour in class which includes cell phone usage. General attentiveness is expected. Failure to adhere to these conduct expectations may, at the instructor's discretion, result in a "late" or "absence" on a student's attendance record.
Being on time is important as a courtesy both to the instructor and fellow students. Therefore, each student is expected to arrive ready for class at the prescribed time. The Deans will be notified if students are late repeatedly for period 1 classes, and students may be required to go to breakfast.
Late arrivals will be monitored. Two late arrivals count as one absence.
It is expected that students will attend and be attentive in all scheduled classes. However, we realize there is a need for occasional exceptions. Therefore the following policies have been adopted:
*A student is allowed "discretionary absences" in a class equal to the credit hours of the class plus one, without any penalty (i.e., 3 hr class = 4, 2 hr class = 3, 1 hr class = 2).
*If the allowable amount is exceeded, grade penalties will be applied as follows: 5% for the 5th, 5% for the 6th and 10% for each additional absence (i.e., in the case of a 3-credit class).
*Note: Instructors are not obligated to inform students of late and absence totals. Students are responsible for tracking their attendance.
*Absences the day before or immediately following any "long weekend" will count double. Each 50-minute time block of course instruction is considered one class period for counting purposes.
*Students are not required to give account of these discretionary absences. However, all short-term illnesses (e.g., headache, "not feeling well," cold, etc.), and personal needs/events (e.g., weddings, business, personal problems, etc.) fall within your discretionary absences. Excused absences will not be granted for the above reasons.
*Tour/Sports Team Attendance: Students on school teams may be required to miss certain classes (i.e. Fridays). Absences incurred while on a school outing will be considered excused. However, students will only be allowed 2 other discretionary absences per class (i.e. 50 minute periods). Staff will inform teachers of the students who will be away. The general rule will be “team absences plus two”.
Requests for excused absences will be considered only in the case of prolonged illness (i.e., over two days), absences due to Student Ministry, emergencies, or similar extenuating circumstances.
In the case of prolonged illness the Deans must be consulted. The Academic Dean may request a doctor’s referral.
In order for any absence to be excused, including Student Ministry, students must complete an “Excused Absence Request Form.” Request forms must be submitted to the Academic Dean within one week of the class missed. Forms are available at the student mailboxes.
Regardless of the circumstances (including excused absences), students must attend a minimum of 70% of the classes to be eligible for course credit.
Students withdrawing from studies at Nipawin Bible College must give written notice to the Dean Of Students and the Academic Dean. This written record will remain in a student’s permanent file. Once this is complete, a withdrawing student must settle their account with the Finance & Facilities Manager.
As per federal regulations, international students who withdraw from or discontinue their studies at Nipawin Bible College and do not pursue studies at another designated post-secondary institution will not be able to remain in Canada.
Grading is done in numerical form. The grades are compiled at the end of the semester for each subject and a final grade is issued. The instructor may use the method of marking on the curve if needed. The passing grade for a course is 60%. A semester report is given after the end of each semester. Grading is done according to the grading index below.
GPA Reporting: Grade points (GP) are given for each hour of credit according to the grading index as follows:
4.0 = 92-100 3.6 = 86-88 3.0 = 80-82 2.3 = 73-75 1.7 = 66-69 1.0 = 60-62
3.8 = 89-91 3.3 = 83-85 2.7 = 76-79 2.0 = 70-72 1.3 = 63-65 0 = below
To determine the grade points earned in any given subject, multiply the grade point value of your grade by the number of credit hours in the subject. Example: a mark of 81% in a 3-hour course, would be 3.0 multiplied by 3(hours) for a total of 9 grade points earned for that course.
The grade-point average (GPA) is determined by adding the total grade points earned and then dividing by the total number of hours taken. This gives an accurate representation of the student's academic performance for that semester. An accumulated GPA simply means that after every semester all past grades are calculated to give an accumulated GPA rating. Note: Students are responsible to ensure the accuracy of transcript records. Questions regarding the accuracy of transcripts should be directed to the Academic Dean.
An appeal to change the grade on an individual assignment must be made to the Instructor within one week of grade notification. If a student is not satisfied that his/her appeal has been adequately considered, they may appeal to the Academic Dean. All such appeals should be submitted in writing, including the assignment in question.
In the event that an NBC student has a grievance with certain academic decisions including program requirements or unfair treatment by a faculty member, there are certain procedures to follow. Students will submit in writing the grievance with the Education Administration Team chaired by the Academic Dean. The Education Administration Team will respond in writing within one week of the original submission.
If the student is not satisfied with the result, they may appeal to the Mission Leadership Team. Again, the process will consist of a written submission and a response within one week of the submission. This decision will be final and there will be no further appeal process.
Format of Assignments
In order to provide consistency in faculty expectations and to enhance the ease of reading student papers, we have outlined certain expectations for the format of papers. All work submitted must be on 8.5 x 11 inch, unlined white paper, and must be typed, unless otherwise specified by the instructor. Students must also consult the NBC Format Requirements for additional format and guidance for papers.
Submission of Assignments
Assignments are due at 5:00 p.m. on the due date specified in the course syllabus. Hard-copy assignments must be submitted to the faculty slots in the Bookstore. NBC does not provide a printer for student assignments.
Electronic Submission of Assignments
Some courses and instructors allow for electronic submission of assignments. These must be submitted only in Word Document form (.doc or docx). The file name and email subject must include: course, last name of student and assignment title (ex. BT113 - Anderson - Investigative). Format requirements remain the same including page numbers and must be in one file only.
Completion and Quality
Students must complete all assignments valued at 20% or greater to pass the course; failure to do so will result in a maximum course grade of 50%. Instructors are not obligated to accept assignments that are not deemed to meet minimum requirements.
When accepted, late assignments (maximum of 3 days) will be penalized 10% per day, excluding Sundays (i.e. grade = 80% - 1 day late = 70%). Late assignments must indicate the actual date submitted in the bottom, right corner of the title page in addition to other title page requirements. If the student fails to do so, it will be considered that it was submitted on the day that the instructor is first aware of the assignment.
Discretionary lates: In order to help students deal with times of general busyness and stress, extra-curricular involvement, short-term illness, personal/family events, computer “glitches,” etc., each student will be allowed 5 discretionary late days per semester. “Discretionary lates” can be used to “extend” an assignment due date. Some assignments, however, may not be extended, including class presentations, quizzes, assignments due during a modular class (i.e. not assignments that are due after the module), and any other assignments designated by the instructor. In spite of “discretionary lates,” assignments submitted more than 3 days after the original due date will not be accepted. Once a student has used all 5 “discretionary lates,” regular penalties will apply to any additional late assignments. The Registrar will keep a record of “discretionary lates” for grading purposes, but will not be responsible to remind students when they have used up their limit.
Submission Practice: Assignments are to be submitted Monday - Friday (8:00am - 5:00pm) to the bookstore counter. All assignments are to be submitted in the faculty/staff bookstore mailboxes for proper processing, not directly to the instructor. The deadline for submission of late assignments is 3 days after the original due date. Work submitted after this deadline will not be accepted. Faculty also reserve the right to not accept late submissions on certain assignments (including reading, presentations, etc.).
Assignments may be submitted over the weekends by sliding it under the bookstore door. They will be processed at 8:30 Monday morning and will count as 1 day late (10%). Put simply, Saturdays count as a late day and Sundays do not.
Extensions will normally only be granted for emergencies or prolonged illness. General busyness and stress, extra-curricular involvement, short-term illness, personal/family events, "computer glitches", etc., are not usually grounds for an extension. Late penalties as outlined above are generally applied in these situations.
Procedures: Students needing an extension for an emergency or a prolonged illness must complete an “Extension Request Form”. These can be obtained from the student mailboxes in the lower level of the Ed. Centre and should be submitted at the Faculty and Staff bookstore mailboxes. The Registrar and then the Instructor must approve the extension. Upon approval of the request and subsequent return of the “Extension Request Form”, the student must then attach the form to the assignment when it is submitted.
A supplementary assignment may be requested from the instructor in any given course. The assignment will have a value of 10%, and shall not increase the course grade above 95%. The request for a supplementary assignment must be made at least two weeks before the last day of the class.
Student fees cover handouts received in class. There may be times when a student is required to photocopy material as a part of an assignment or presentation. The student is responsible for these copying costs, unless the instructor grants special permission. The instructor must personally discuss the exception with the receptionist beforehand.
Students must attain 50% on the final exam to pass the course. Students failing to do so will receive a maximum final course grade of 50%. Instructors, in consultation with the Academic Dean, may waive this requirement in individual cases.
Midterm Exams: are given at the discretion of the instructor, and written during a regular class period. No more than one midterm exam will be scheduled for one day.
Exam Rewrites: may be requested for any exam. The application for such a rewrite must be made to the Registrar within one week of the return of the grade, and must be written within two weeks of the return of the grade. The fee for exam rewrites is $50.
The Instructor will either give the same exam and average the two grades, or modify the original exam and use the new grade. The student should prepare thoroughly in order to show mastery over a previous deficiency. No student will be allowed to rewrite more than two exams during one exam session (i.e., midterm or final)
For extenuating circumstances, a student may present a request to the Academic Dean to have an exam rescheduled. Upon approval, a $50 fee (per exam) will be charged to the student's account, except in the case of personal emergencies.
Students with a final course grade of 50%-64% may request an upgrade from the Registrar. The writing of an upgrade is a privilege and should not be viewed as an easy way out. The maximum course grade attainable is 65%. The course upgrade fee is $75.
The deadline for request and completion of an upgrade is 12 months after the end of the original class. Ideally, upgrades should be completed by the beginning of the next year's Fall semester.
The upgrade assignment will be given by the Registrar, in the area of course work failed or not completed. The minimum grade required for the upgrade assignment is 50% to pass the course, regardless of the current course grade. Generally, an upgrade assignment or exam will be more extensive than the previous course requirements.
Upgrade privileges will be granted only once for each course. If the upgrade is not successful in raising the course grade to 60%, the course must be retaken or replaced with another course. A maximum of 6 courses may be upgraded during a student's course of study at NBC, with a maximum of four from the same academic year.
As noted in the school catalogue, the following are requirements for graduation: faculty approved Christian character, satisfactory completion of the credits and program requirements as outlined in the NBC catalogue, and a minimum of one year or thirty hours of resident (on-campus) study at NBC.
Potential graduates who have failed courses that are required for graduation may participate in the Graduation activities if they have only one "outstanding" course requirement (due to failure or incompletion.) Or, they may participate if they require no more than two upgrades (from the final semester only) and if the Academic Dean has processed those upgrades. Foundations For Life Certificate recipients may have one "upgrade" in process from the current semester and still get their certificate.
Diplomas and certificates will be withheld until all academic requirements have been completed and all accounts are paid. Students have up to three years to complete outstanding requirements after leaving NBC without any additional fees. After two years individuals can expect to pay a reactivation fee in order to reactivate their file and determine current graduation requirements (programs may have changed during the intervening years). The reactivation fee will be equal to the current hourly tuition fee.
Philosophy and Criteria
Since one of the primary purposes in attending Bible College is growth in knowledge and understanding of God and His Word, the school considers it a serious matter when students fail to achieve their academic potential. Probation exists in order to assist students toward attainment of potential and to diligence in studies.
Students may be placed on academic probation when one or more course grades fall below 1.0 grade points (60%), or when three or more assignments are overdue at any given time (including assignments past the submission deadline).
Academic probation will result when the poor performance is due to signs of indifference, unused academic ability, or excessive involvement in extra-curricular activities. Low grades alone need not necessitate probation. The Academic Dean will determine when a student is liable for probation, although all faculty are involved at various stages of the probation process.
Steps of Academic Probation
The Academic Dean will administer probation and oversee the student's academic progress using the following steps:
Academic Warning - Freshmen who fail to submit two or more assignments or a course grade below 60% (1.0 GPA) will be issued an “Academic Warning.” A student will only receive one “Academic Warning” in the same school year. Juniors and Seniors should not expect to receive an Academic Warning. The Academic Dean will evaluate progress over a two-week period.
Academic Probation (Level 1) - Students who have received an Academic Warning and fail to raise course grades sufficiently or fail to complete assignments within the time allotted, will be placed on Academic Probation for a minimum of two weeks.
*This will involve Supervised Study. The student will be required to submit work and complete tasks as scheduled by the Academic Dean or an appointed staff member. The student may also be asked to study in the library or in their room at designated hours. Probation may include other terms of probation at the Dean's discretion.
*When a student has previously been on Academic Probation during the current school year, he/she will automatically be placed on probation if they have more than one late assignment or a failing course grade.
In all cases of Probation, students must receive/request official notice from the Academic Dean that probation has been lifted.
Academic Probation (Level 2) - Students who have been placed on Academic Probation (Level 1) and fail to raise course grades sufficiently, or fail to complete all work within the time allotted, or who demonstrate lack of cooperation with the terms of probation, will be placed on Academic Probation for an additional two weeks. Additional terms of probation will also be implemented at this stage.
Semester Probation or Suspension (Level 3) If a student has not made the necessary improvement, probation will be in effect until at least the end of the current semester.
Suspension - In the case of students who continue to demonstrate lack of motivation and indifference or fail to comply with the terms of Academic Probation, the Academic Dean will recommend suspension for a minimum of three days or withdrawal as a student at NBC. The student will meet with the President to implement the recommendation.
Terms of Academic Probation
At the discretion of the Academic Dean, a student on probation will be subject to some or all of the following:
*Will not be granted any extended weekend or special leave privileges (except for family emergencies).
*Submit notebooks periodically for inspection and/or meet regularly with the Academic Dean and/or their faculty advisor to discuss their academic progress.
*Will be limited to one Student Ministry assignment or activity per week.
*Will not be permitted to participate in drama productions, school athletic teams, or any other extra-curricular club as specified by the administration.
*Will not be permitted to run for or hold any student body or class office, including membership on any student committee. In the case where a student has been elected or appointed to such an office before being placed on probation, another election will be held or a new appointment made and the probationer will be replaced.
Note: All probation will be filed in the student's permanent record.
Nipawin Bible College exists to train its students for effective Christian service and leadership. Therefore, a high level of integrity is expected in all areas of school life.
Plagiarism is to be conscientiously avoided. “Plagiarism” means giving the impression that you have written something original when, in fact, you have borrowed (words or ideas) from someone else without acknowledging that person's work. Examples include: copying another student’s work, using an author’s ideas without proper footnotes, using unauthorized aids in exams, submitting the same material for credit in more than one assignment or course without permission from the instructors involved. Other forms of deceit are strictly forbidden.
The Faculty Committee will deal with cheating and other forms of academic misconduct. Infractions will receive penalties in relation to their seriousness. These penalties may include: re-doing the assignment, failure of the assignment or exam, failure of the course, probation, delay or denial of graduation, suspension, or expulsion.
All books must be checked out before removal from the library. Books marked for “Reserve” are not to be removed from the library under any circumstances.
These are serious violations and will be dealt with as such. In the case of reserve materials, students removing them from the library deprive fellow students of access to the necessary resources to complete a given assignment.
Students found violating the library check-out policy or the reserve material policy could result in: assignment failure, course failure or monetary fine.
NBC will impose at $0.50 fine per book per day for overdue materials. One grace day will be extended if the book is returned the day after it is due. Lost books result in a fine worth the replacement cost of the item, and damaged books result in a fine worth a portion of the replacement cost of the item.
Attending Bible College is a major investment of time, energy, and money. The majority of students indicate that their main purposes in attending Bible College are to grow in their walk with God, learn more of His Word, and become effective in defending and sharing their faith. As you understand the investment you are making (and those who give generously to this ministry) and the goals you have set for yourself, you will no doubt want to do all you can to make the most of your time at Bible College.
At Bible College, learning takes place in a variety of settings: dorm life, sports teams, friendships, socials, and academics. At NBC, we strive to maintain a healthy balance in our emphasis in these areas, but we do want you to understand that we view academics as a major component in your learning. In light of that, we have developed this guide to help you get the most out of your studies at NBC.
Following is a list of the basic and most common types of assignments you will encounter:
Daily or periodic assignments issued regularly in class
Reading, which may include book reports, interaction questions, reading logs/journals
Class presentations or projects (sermons, speeches, devotionals, maps, charts, etc.)
Study and interaction papers
Exams and quizzes
The two main areas of course work are reading and written assignments. The goal of this guide is to equip you to do both more effectively and is based on the following assumption:
Though the majority of students have the ability to communicate thoughts and facts orally, not many know how to put their thoughts into writing. However, by knowing and applying some basic guidelines to studying and writing effectively, students will greatly increase their effectiveness in reading and their ability to communicate through writing.
NOTE: Throughout this section, material is sourced from:
“Student Resource Packet.” Caronport, SK: Briercrest Distance Learning, 1996. Used with permission. Some revisions made.
A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian, 8th ed., 2013.
©1995-2004 The Write Place. Kelly A. Larson and Mark Koop. It may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer; if you revise it, please add your name to the list of writers.
Read in a setting that does not distract you. Reading the table of contents will give you a broad idea of the structure of the book. Also preview any graphics, pictures and diagrams to get a general overview of the book’s main ideas.
Read the preface to find the author’s purpose for writing it. Underline the purpose or write it on a card. Use the card for a bookmark.
Clarify the Assignment
Review the assignment(s) from the courses that are associated with the textbook. Jot them down on the same card you are using for a bookmark. This will help you keep focused as you read.
Make Notes in the Margins
Make special note of introductions and conclusions of chapters — they are strong clues to the main points. Try to grasp those broader concepts as you read, rather than becoming distracted with too many details. Mark unfamiliar words. Look them up right away and record a brief definition in the margin. As a general rule, try to avoid excessive highlighting.
Understand and Evaluate
If you can read blocks of words or units of thought instead of individual words, your speed will increase but do not read so quickly that you cannot remember or understand what you read.
Try to ponder the principles, thinking as you read about what the author is saying about his subject. Make a brief outline in your own words on a separate sheet of paper. Look for main arguments and make note of ideas that are new to you.
Asking yourself some of the following questions as you read will help you in understanding and evaluating what you are reading:
*Is this clear and readable?
*Does this effectively develop and fulfill the stated purpose?
*Is it balanced and comprehensive or is something missing?
*What applications might I make?
*Do the facts seem to be correct and are they supported?
*Are there any contradictions?
*Do you agree with the author’s conclusions?
Review, Reflect, and Apply
Review what you have read from your notes or highlighted sections. Think about each section after you read it. Tell others about what you are reading. Apply new lessons as soon as possible.
Unless you have been given special instructions by the instructor (be sure to double-check your syllabus), the required elements of a complete book report should be as follows:
*Title page — see the title page for the sample research paper. The title should be:
A review of Title of the Book in Italics
*Table of contents page — this must include the bibliographic information for the book under review as well as headings for the three sections as outlined below.
*Body — the actual content of the book report, which consists of a review, a critique, and an application of the book. A book report does not require an introduction or a conclusion.
The requirements regarding legibility, margins, indentations, numbering, formats, etc. are given in the following pages. Please follow those guidelines carefully in preparing your book reports.
Review the Book
This single page covers all the “who, what, where, when and why’s” of the book. This is where you are unbiased to the author and tell what happened in the book (briefly!). Avoid chapter-by-chapter reviews; instead discuss the book in blocks of chapters. Avoid emphasizing any one chapter—instead, briefly retell the book.
Critique the Book
No book ever written is perfect (except the Scriptures) and thus contains both strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, a fair analysis of a book discusses both its strengths and weaknesses in a balanced way.
Be sure to give specific examples of weakness. Avoid vague terms such as “I didn’t like the way the author wrote.” Give examples of style showing what you felt was their weakness. Such as:
*arguments used by author to prove their point
*their mishandling of Scripture
*the author jumps around and does not “carry” the reader along in thought or idea
Avoid stating that the book was “good” or “I liked it.” Again, be specific in your examples of the strengths:
*author writes clearly
*not over the heads of the readers
*gives a clear progression of arguments/ideas for their topic
*in fiction - the author paints “wonderful pictures in the mind of the reader” or draws the reader into the plot
*handles Scripture well
Application of the Book
This is your opportunity to discuss what new lessons you have learned from the book. Ask yourself these questions:
*How has this book impacted me? Has it changed my worldview?
*What values have been re-enforced or called into question?
*What new insights have I had on a particular topic, passage of Scripture, etc.?
Use 12-point font size throughout your paper. Do not mix sizes and fonts!
Please use Times or Times New Roman
Always save a copy of your document on the computer hard drive as well as a CD, jump drive or external hard drive. This will safeguard your work in case either one fails.
Save all your files until for at least one year, for possible reference later. A CD, jump drive, Dropbox or external hard drives will hold it all and are good insurance.
Computer glitches are not necessarily grounds for an extension. Remember that computer problems are common, so plan to have your work done in advance so you have time to deal with issues that arise.
Begin at the Beginning of the Course
One of the best ways to learn course material is to study regularly and systematically, reviewing often and thinking about the information in the course. In conjunction with this, read and review the course objectives as you go along. It will help you understand what portions of the course are the most important. Make these your learning objectives as well.
It is best to review each study period’s material at least once before going on to the next study period. Scan the notes, highlighting key concepts, definitions, and other important information. After completing a chapter or section, again scan what you have already studied. Try to see the flow or connections between ideas. Review thoroughly once or twice a week before the exam. Some find it helpful to make up questions based on the material and then set aside the course and answer them. This method will help you discover weak areas that need more concentrated study.
Cramming may help you remember the odd date or name or fragment of information but is usually not recommended. The material will not be retained for future use. Also, altering normal eating, sleeping, and other patterns in order to cram, adds to the stress of writing exams. It is better to really learn the material as you take the course.
Get enough sleep. Eat normal meals. Exercise lightly and RELAX. Bring whatever is needed, such as two pens or pencils, eraser, etc. Spend some time in prayer, asking God to help you recall what you have learned.
Writing the Test
Read all instructions. Look at the number of questions and the marks allotted for each. If there are essays on the exam, make a mental note of the topics before beginning other questions.
Read each question thoroughly. Do not assume anything. Pay attention to keywords such as: always, never, only and or.
Answer all shorter questions you are sure about. Go back to the more difficult ones later. Sometimes other questions can trigger your mind to recall an answer that does not come immediately to mind when you first read the question. Often the correct answer can be found just by eliminating the incorrect answers and even if you’re not sure, most of the time a guess is better than no answer at all.
When writing essay answers, your ability to plan a research paper will be very helpful. Think of your main idea about the topic and support it with...“because” clauses. Leave space for an introduction and conclusion and add them when you have completed the body of the essay.
A quotation is a reference to an authority or a citation of an authority. There are two types of quotations: direct and indirect.
*A direct quotation uses the exact words of an authority and must be identified in your paper with quotation marks and documentation.
*An indirect quotation, or paraphrase, is a restatement of a thought expressed by someone else that is written in your own style that needs to be documented.
Know when to use quotations
*Use quotations when the specific language of a quote is important.
*Use quotations when accuracy is essential -- to indicate the writer's exact position.
*Use quotations to support your argument, rather than relying upon someone else's words.
*Keep quotes to a minimum. A short phrase or sentence is more easily understood than a long quotation.
*Look for the "kernel" or the most important part of the quotation and extract it.
*Paraphrase a quotation in your own words when possible.
Incorporating quotations into your paper
Combine a paraphrase with a quotation.
Original: Tania Modleski suggests that "if television is considered by some
to be a vast wasteland, soap operas are thought to be the least nourishing
spot in the desert."
Revised: In her critique of soap operas, Tania Modleski argues that some view television as "a vast wasteland" and soap operas as "the least nourishing spot in the desert.”
Introduce a quotation by citing the name of the authority.
Example: Thoreau believed that "a true patriot would resist a tyrannical majority".27
Describe or identify the source of information if it is available.
Example: In The Coming of Age, Simone de Beavoir contends that the decrepitude accompanying old age is "in complete conflict with the manly or womanly ideal cherished by the young and fully grown".28
Use key words from the quotation and make them a grammatical part of your sentence.
Example: As William Kneale suggests, some humans have a "moral deafness" which is never punctured no matter what the moral treatment (Acton 93).
Note: Overusing quotations can result in "patchwork" writing, a jumble of miscellaneous information from various sources that is merely pieced together. Quotations should fit logically into your text.
If your quotations are less than four lines long (which is usually the case), place them in your text and enclose them with quotation marks.
Remember to include a citation for each quotation used.
Example: Pearl, who is Hawthorne's symbol of truth, reaches a proportionately
happy conclusion, becoming "the richest heiress of her day, in the New World.”23
Example: Edward Zigler laments, "One finds violence, hostility, and aggression everywhere, including TV, the movies, and in many of our everyday social relations.”24
If a quotation is more than four lines long, set it off from your text by indenting.
Introduce the quotation with a complete sentence and a colon.
Bring in the margins 1/4 inch on each side, single space the lines, and do not use quotation marks.
Do not indent the opening line unless the quote begins a new paragraph.
Robert Hastrow sums up the process in the following passage, where he compares rays of light to a ball thrown up from the earth and returning because of the pull of gravity,
The tug of that enormous force prevents the ray of light from leaving the surface of the star; like the ball thrown upward from the earth, they are pulled back and cannot escape to space. All the light within the star is now trapped by gravity. From this moment on, the star is invisible. It is a black hole in space.
Do not quote when a paraphrase will do.
Do not cite sources for information that is readily available in popular reference books:
*well-known dates and events
*identities of famous personalities and politicians
Always provide a context for your quotations—explain to the reader why and how the quote is relevant to the topic.
A paraphrase is an indirect quotation. It must be documented because it relates in your own words and style the thoughts you have borrowed from another person. Paraphrases are more flexible than quotations. They fit more smoothly into your text, and you can express your own interpretations as you paraphrase.
Paraphrasing is used for the following reasons:
*to restate a difficult passage the reader may not understand,
*to explain or interpret concepts or unfamiliar terms,
*or to make abstract facts and ideas concrete.
There are two ways to paraphrase:
Literal - Substitute the original words of each sentence with synonyms. You can use the process as a first step in drafting paraphrases. There are two objections to this form of paraphrasing: since you paraphrase sentence by sentence, your overall structure may be awkward; and you also run a greater risk of plagiarism. Therefore, you should use free paraphrasing for all of your final drafts.
Free - Use synonyms and rearrange the sentence structure. You can borrow the main ideas without necessarily keeping the same organization — you are now putting another person’s idea into your own words. This form of paraphrasing sounds more natural and is recommended.
The Original Quotation
"Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal . . . ."
A Literal Paraphrase
Eighty-seven years before, our ancestors founded in North America a new country, thought of in freedom and based on the principle that all people are born with the same rights.
A Free Paraphrase
Our ancestors thought of freedom when they founded a new country in North America eighty-seven years ago. They based their thinking on the principle that all people are born with the same rights.
*Break long sentences into shorter ones, and combine short sentences for variety.
*Use a thesaurus for synonyms, but be careful of subtle changes in the meaning of words.
*Make sure your paraphrase considers the complete meaning of the original quotation.
*Be sure to cite original ideas that are not your own.
There are various ways to punctuate quotations, depending on their placement in the sentence, their purpose, and the purpose of the sentence. The key is to be consistent with your punctuation. This appendix highlights rules and examples that should help you when punctuating quotations within your papers.
Sometimes you may want to insert something into a quotation for clarification. Place any additional information within square brackets [ ].
*Author Elliot Would argues that, "They [Western doctors] are too intent on medicating and not intent enough on fixing them [ailments]."29
Single Quotation Marks
Use single quotation marks to enclose a quotation within a quotation.
*Dave Anderson believes that "there is no saying less true than 'it doesn't matter whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.'"30
When a quote is four lines or longer, it should be offset in a block. In a block quotation, no quotation marks are used with no space for a footnote.
There are various ways to punctuate quotations, depending on their placement in the sentence, their purpose, and the purpose of the sentence. The key is to be consistent with your punctuation. This page highlights rules and examples that should help you when punctuating quotations within your papers.31
The comma and period always go inside the closing quotation mark when there is a reference.
*"Really, there is no excuse for aggressive behavior," the supervisor said. "It sets a bad example."
The comma and period always go inside a quotation within another quotation when there is a reference.
*According to the film critic, "One of the most widely acclaimed actors in history, Humphrey Bogart, is quoted as saying, 'I don't like acting.'"32
The colon and semicolon always go outside the closing quotation mark.
*He referred to this group of people as his "gang": Heidi, Heather Shelley, and Jessie.
*Marx did not believe that "a single nation should have a single leader"; nevertheless, he became a leader singled out.
The ellipses, three spaced dots ( . . . ), indicates that part of a quotation has been left out. Ellipses are useful when you want to include only the most relevant words of a quotation; however, any omission must not distort the quotation's original meaning.
For omissions in the middle of a sentence, use an ellipses.
*The character of Sammy was soft-spoken, but he believed strongly in "respect for women, love of country . . . and a bright, sunny day.” 33
For omissions at the end of a sentence, use an ellipses followed by a period.
*According to Zephron Cochran, "Warp drive is a creation that will change multitudes of lives . . . ."34
Omissions immediately following an introductory statement do not need an ellipses.
*In Harris' book, one-to-one conferences are "one of the most important aspects of teaching.” 35
Exclamation Point/Question Mark
When the whole sentence except for the section enclosed in quotation marks is a question or exclamation, the question or exclamation mark goes outside the quotation mark.
*Which British author wrote, "Ask not for whom the bell tolls"?
When only the unit in quotation marks is a question or exclamation, the mark goes inside the closing quotation mark.
*The mediator asked, "What have you learned from this experience?"
When both the whole sentence and the unit enclosed in quotation marks are questions or exclamations, the question or exclamation mark goes inside the closing quotation mark.
*How important is it to know “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?”
apostrophe — When referring to years, an apostrophe is not used, e.g., 1700s, not 1700’s.
accept/except — Accept is a verb meaning “to take” or “to agree”; except is usually a preposition meaning “excluding”; it can also be a verb meaning “to exclude.”
*Thank you, I accept your gift.
*He ate everything on his plate, except for the squash.
a lot — A lot is two words. Do not write alot.
all right — All right is two words. Do not write alright.
affect; effect — Affect is almost always a verb, meaning “to influence.” Effect is almost always a noun meaning “result.”
*The music affected her mood.
*This drug has several side effects.
Rarely, affect is used as a noun; it is a psychological term for “feeling.”
*The patient displayed a lack of affect.
In the rare occasions when effect is used as a verb, it means “achieve or bring about.”
*Who could believe he would effect such a dramatic change?
contractions — In academic writing some instructors request students avoid using contractions such as isn’t, or don’t.
first person pronouns — In academic writing it is normal to avoid using the first person. Consult individual faculty members for specific expectations.
good, well — Good is an adjective, well is an adverb.
*They did a good job.
*She wrote well on the exam.
irregardless — Irregardless is not standard. Use regardless.
its; it’s — Its is a possessive pronoun; it’s is a contraction of it is or it has.
*The cat raised its fur when the dog walked by.
*It’s a beautiful day.
numbers — “In scientific and statistical material, all numbers are expressed in numbers. In non-scientific material…spell out all numbers through one hundred and any of the whole numbers followed by hundred, thousand, hundred thousand, million, and so on. For all other numbers, numerals are used” (Turabian 1996, 2:29). For exceptions, see Turabian, 2:30-35. When numbering ordinals “second” and “third” add the “d” alone, i.e., 2d, 3d See Turabian, 2:30.
percent vs. % — The word percent should be used, except when writing out scientific or statistical data.
This guide is not a stereotyped method that all schools are using. However, it does loosely follow Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations, and it is suitable for the requirements of our school.
If, during the course of your study, you encounter a problem not covered by this guide, please feel free to consult Turabian’s manual for guidance, or speak to an instructor. Both are here to help!
At first glance, the student will find the guide difficult and perhaps intimidating. However, as a student you are encouraged not only to use this guide but also to apply all the given principles consistently.
At first the proper forms will be used mechanically, but time, discipline and determination will enable you to freely use the guide without repeated conscious effort.
Guidelines for Writing Research and Study Paper
Researching a topic, putting your thoughts together to reach a conclusion and communicating that information within the limits required will deepen your ability to think and write. It will also firmly fix the material in your mind, and demonstrate your grasp of the subject.
When doing an assignment, it is important to clearly understand the purpose and expectations of the assignment. A research paper is intended to expose the student to a number of information sources (books, audio sources, videos, articles, websites, etc.). Researched information on a given topic is collected and interpreted. The student must select and reduce that information into an organized paper that adequately addresses the topic or issue being researched.
The study paper does not depend as much on researching a number of sources. Its intent is to draw the student into a specific area of study that is limited in scope. It may require a study from a certain Bible passage or letter, a personal view or study regarding a selected issue, or a written response to a question, article, theory, etc.
In a research paper the student must develop and present a thesis or controlling idea. However, in a study paper the student may simply do a study on the given topic and may structure the paper as a report of his/her findings. Generally the study paper is shorter than the research paper. Both follow the form and guidelines for research papers as given in this guide, though the research and documentation requirements are not as rigorous for study papers.
1. Remember the Reason for Writing a Research Paper
2. Review the Assignment
Make sure you understand what you are to research and write about. Re-read the syllabus carefully several times. If you still do not understand the assignment, see your instructor.
One of the most common problems is failure to follow instructions carefully!
3. Gather Information
Research your topic from material as given in the assignment. Make rough notes. Be sure to include information about outside sources if you are going to quote, paraphrase, or include ideas from them in your paper (Author, Title, Publisher, Year, Page number).
4. Plan Your Writing
It saves time if you take time to schedule each step of the writing process. Allow yourself at least one hour per page of actual writing time. For example, a three-page paper will take at least three hours of actual writing time. Break that time into segments. Most of it will be required for the first five items.
*Determine the scope and direction of your topic.
*Generate a thesis statement (see sample below).
*Develop reasons or evidences that support your thesis. Ask what? when? where? why? who? how? Test your thesis by clearly answering, “my thesis is true because...”
*Consider possible rebuttals to your thesis and answer them.
*Organize your arguments into a logical sequence, theme groups.
*Add illustrations, explanations.
*Make a first draft (usually longer than final).
*Test all of it against the thesis.
*Read aloud, if possible to an objective listener.
*Edit for variety in language, strong word usage, etc.
*Re-read for spelling, grammar errors.
*Make the final copy.
Follow your plan! Some things will take longer than you expect, others less time. Knowing what you want to do and say before you start to write will save time in the long run.
5. Develop a Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is one or two complete sentences that define the paper’s main intention or argument. It is the main component of the introduction and usually consists of a fact and a statement about the fact that is debatable. A thesis statement is what you intend to prove through your paper. Note the following examples:
Thesis: This paper will discuss Noah’s flood: whether it was a local or worldwide, the latter I think being the right view.
This gives the content of the paper but not a clear statement of what will be proved.
Thesis: While the language of Scripture alludes to a local flood in Noah’s day, archaeology, geology and the correct interpretation of Scripture clearly point to a worldwide flood.
This clear thesis statement declares that evidence will be gathered to show that the flood was worldwide.
Note the omission of the terms: “This paper will...” and “I think...”
Other common phrases to be avoided: “I hope to prove...” and “I will show...” First person pronouns (I, me, my, we, etc.) should be avoided (These are “assumed” since it is your paper.).
Upon completion of your research you may very likely revise your thesis statement. An original view may be changed as you work through the research!
You must use a thesis statement on any major research paper of four pages or more, and when specified in the syllabus assignment, although the paper may not be research oriented.
The thesis statement must appear in your introduction and in your Table of Contents before the outline. (See the sample paper or available as template at nipawin.org/academics/resources.)
6. Develop an Outline
Next to a strong thesis statement, a clear, logical outline is the most important aspect of a paper. Learning to develop an outline is vital to presenting your research effectively.
When do I need an outline?
Outlines are required on any major research or study paper four pages or more.
Outlines are incorporated into these papers in the table of contents. While your outline for your paper may be extremely detailed, the Table of Contents will only contain the details that are being used as titles in the paper.
Outlines are optional on personal thought papers, but do help the reader follow the direction of the paper.
What is a good outline?
A good outline shows the paper’s direction at a glance. The most commonly used outline is the Topical Outline. An alphanumeric outline uses Roman numerals, capitalized letters, Arabic numerals, and lowercase letters, in that order.
Each numeral or letter is followed by a period, and each item is capitalized. The following examples demonstrate good and poor outlines:
How do I make an outline?
First, sketch all the points out on rough paper, moving your main points around first (Roman numerals). Leave the sub-points for later. Next, organize your main headings into a systematic sequence that shows a logical progression.
Finally, sketch in your subheadings making sure that they are relevant to your thesis and the flow of your paper. Remember, a good outline takes thought and effort, and will need to be revised several times.
7. Develop Effective Writing Skills
Use precise, descriptive words, and active verbs when possible. Avoid the overuse of “is”, “are”, “was” and “were” (passive verbs).
Be very deliberate in avoiding clichés and slang.
Include specific, concrete examples rather than general and abstract examples.
A paragraph should deal with one central thought. Every paragraph should have a theme sentence that introduces the paragraph. Arguments should be written in the form of paragraphs, stating your approval or disapproval in a concluding sentence.
Maintain proper sentence structure and use good grammar. Sentences should vary in length but short is better than long. Very long sentences drag out the thought unnecessarily and too many very short sentences make the paper choppy.
Punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure are not “minor details” and need to be carefully considered by the writer. A paper with excellent content will be of little value if the words are not correctly spelled or sentences are not properly constructed.
Documentation is required when using actual words—a “quote,” or when using the author’s ideas or concepts!
8. Document Sources Used
A good paper will use a variety of sources for researching the assigned topic. Sources are documented through the use of quotations and footnotes.
Every opinion, fact, or conclusion quoted literally or closely paraphrased must be properly documented.
You do not need to document facts that are “common knowledge.”
Documenting the sources used in a paper is very important, as it accomplishes several things. First, it is an indication of the amount of research you have done. Second, it indicates where you found your material, thus telling the reader the types of sources you used. Third, it credits the authors for their work, and in the process more clearly shows which were your words and ideas.
Failure to indicate the use of someone else’s work is a form of plagiarism. Plagiarism is unlawfully taking credit for what someone else has said or thought by presenting it as your own idea.
9. Evaluate Before Your Instructor Does
Re-reading the paper after it is done is a good method of checking neatness, grammar, format, etc. In fact, you should make proofreading a habit! Make sure the paper is neatly written or typed as required. Smudges and ragged edges draw the reader’s attention away from the content to focus on the appearance. Finally, ask yourself the following questions before submitting a paper:
*Have I fulfilled the assignment instructions/requirements?
*Is the information factual and logical?
*Have I documented all sources of quotes and ideas?
*Is the paper well organized into introduction, body, and conclusion?
*Have I checked the grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.?
*Is it presentable and in the right format?
10. Grading of Research Papers
Instructors generally use the following values and criteria in grading major research papers. Being aware of the grading criteria will further help you understand how a paper should be developed, and what things to evaluate before submitting your paper.
- Format – 10%
General: Title Page, Neatness, Introduction, Conclusion, Table of Contents, Page Numbering, Margins, Double Spacing, Indentation, Form of Quotes
Footnotes: placement, numbering, abbreviations, form, punctuation, number.
2. Composition – 15%: grammar, spelling, paragraphs, clarity
3. Content – 75%: breadth, accuracy, adequate bibliography & footnotes, length, etc.
Grading Abbreviation key (faculty use of this key is optional):
Awk – awkward or wordy
NC – not clear
NP or ¶ – new paragraph needed
Doc – documentation / reference needed
Cap – error in capitalization
^ – space needed between words
spelling errors are circled
The following sections represent the proper form to use for research papers. A significant part of the grade for the paper is assessed on the basis of adherence to these guidelines.
In institutes of higher learning it is required that the individual present a paper with the proper format. Aside from consistency and ease of reading, this should be one more reason for any Christian institution to guide students in this area.
All study and research papers must be typed. All work submitted must be on 8½ × 11 inch, unlined white paper, and must not be hole-punched.
Order of Pages
The page order should be as follows: title page, table of contents, introduction, body, conclusion, appendix and bibliography.
Note: If the title is longer than 4½ inches (twelve centimeters), use two or more lines as needed, with the longest line first, to form an inverted pyramid.
All margins must be one inch (2½ centimeters).
Table of Contents, introduction, conclusion, and bibliography headings should be two inches (five centimeters) down from the top of the page and centered between the margins.
Main headings (Roman numerals) in the body of the paper should also be centered between the margins, but it is not necessary to begin a new page for these headings.
Paragraph indentation should be a ½ inch. Direct quotations of four or more lines are indented ¼ inch from both margins, and are single-spaced with no quotation marks.
Line Spacing and Text Alignment
The text of a paper is always double-spaced (except for longer quotes).
Carefully note the spacing between lines for the title page, table of contents and bibliography in the sample paper.
Align text only on the left side of the page. Left and right text alignment (justified margins) makes the paper more difficult to read and should be avoided.
New paragraphs are noted by indentation only! Do not add extra spaces between paragraphs.
Page numbers are always centered between the margins. The title page, table of contents and any preface or blank ages are numbered i, ii, iii, etc., though the page number never appears on the title page. Number all pages of the paper beginning with “1” on the Introduction.
Place all page numbers a ¾ inch from the bottom of the page.
Documentation of Sources
As noted earlier, quotations or ideas from other sources must be documented properly. This is done in the form of footnote references at the bottom of the page on which they appear.
Footnotes use the format as in the examples in Appendix F. Footnotes are numbered consecutively through the paper. The first occurrence of a source must include all of the bibliographic information as in the format shown in the sample paper.
When a source is used more than once, it may be abbreviated by providing the author’s last name followed by the page number (e.g. Erickson, 52.) If the sources used have authors by the same last name, indicate last name, shortened title, and page number (e.g. Erickson, Apologetics, 97.) Note that in footnotes the title is always italicized, but not underlined.
The footnote may also be used to make added comments on the discussion that are considered worthwhile but otherwise disrupt the flow of thought if placed in the text.
There are two ways to cite Scripture:
(1) in the body of the text.
Example: In Matthew 5:8 Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
(2) within parentheses prior to the final period.
Example: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5:8).
If study Bible notes are consulted, the study Bible must appear in the bibliography. Otherwise, do not include the Bible in your bibliography.
Indicate which version of the Bible you are using in your paper. Use either of the following methods:
(1) A footnote should indicate which version is used.
Example: 1All Scripture citations are from the New Revised Standard Version (unless otherwise indicated).
(2) The first citation of Scripture should indicate the version in parentheses.
Example: “Jesus wept” (Jn 11:35 NIV).
Subsequent references need not note the version unless other versions are cited.
Table of Contents
The table of contents presents the outline for all papers two pages or longer, with corresponding page numbers. This outline must also be used in the body of the paper.
A research paper must have a clear introduction that accomplishes two main purposes. Of first importance is the thesis statement (see Thesis Statement section above). The reader needs to know what the writer intends to prove and why. In addition, the introduction should present the reason for the study, explaining why the paper is necessary.
The introduction should be structured to catch the interest and attention of the reader. The introduction should not contain “fill-in” material that is empty of meaning, but rather be constructed with well-chosen words. For most papers a length of one page or less is sufficient.
This is the main part of the paper in which the outline and topic are developed. The body comes immediately after the introduction, and is followed by the conclusion.
The outline developed must be included in the body of the paper as well. It provides the framework for your research paper and greatly helps guide the reader so as to better understand the content and ideas being presented.
This part of the paper must also reflect well-chosen words. Do not introduce new concepts in the conclusion, nor use clichés. The purpose of the conclusion is to summarize the logical outcome of the research reflected in the paper.
The appendix (or appendices) includes supplementary material that is not central to the argument of the paper, but may be useful to the reader. There are several appendices in this guide located in their proper place—after the conclusion, but before the bibliography of the paper.
Every work cited in your paper, with the exception of Scripture and common reference works (dictionaries, thesauruses, etc.), should be included on a separate page entitled Bibliography. List them alphabetically according to the authors’ last name and chronologically for works by the same author. Format for various types of bibliographic entries is in Appendix F and demonstrated in the sample paper (Available as template at nipawin.org/academics/resources).
Types of Papers
This is an opportunity for you to exercise the hermeneutical principles and processes that you have gleaned from your reading, interpretive assignments and classroom instruction.
Typically, an exegetical assignment will consist of explaining a portion(s) of Scripture. You will want to read the passage(s) in other versions; that should give you a broader insight into what the phrase or word might mean. You will also want to consult theological wordbooks and dictionaries. And, you will want to familiarize yourself with what other biblical scholars have said by looking in exegetical commentaries.
Your paper must include:
- A title page;
- A sufficient introduction that summarizes the main idea of your text as well as the actual biblical verse in which your word or phrase appears;
- An adequate discussion of the context in two parts. Part one is a discussion of the historical-cultural context in which you explain what your reader needs to know about the original audience and their world in order to grasp the meaning of the text. Part two is a discussion of the literary context in which you describe the biblical author’s flow of thought and how your word, or phrase relates to the whole chapter in which it is found;
- Explain what your word/phrase means in its context. Be sure to synthesize significant discoveries from your research and your own suggestions as to why these explanations are/are not reasonable;
- Point out how your word, or phrase applies to you and the church today;
- Appropriate documentation and pagination should include necessary footnotes and thorough bibliography.
A reflection paper is intended to cite your reactions to a subject, article, or movie, in a personal way instead of writing a more formal research or analytical essay. A reflection paper focuses on your reactions, feelings and analysis of a piece or experience in a personal way more than a formal research or analytical essay would require. Check with your instructor for verification, but in general first person writing (using personal pronouns like I, me, my, our) is appropriate for this type of assignment.
Include your thoughts and reactions to the reading or experience. You can present your feelings upon reading what you read and why. You can also use a reflection paper to analyze what you have read. Maintain proper organization of your thoughts and cite specific passages, if appropriate. Personal experiences can be included but do not rely solely on your experiences.
Do not use a reflection paper to simply summarize what you have read or done. It is not simply a free flow of ideas/thoughts. The idea of a reflection paper is to write an essay describing your reactions and analysis to a reading or other experience; it is more formal than a journal and less formal than a research essay.
Organize it like any other essay (consider jotting down an informal outline and working from it). Include:
- An introduction – great place to present the expectations you had for the article based on the title, before you read it.
- Body - explain the conclusions you arrived at and your rationale. Base your conclusions on concrete details from your reading and experience. Separate paragraphs for each conclusion (you should have more than one).
- Conclusion/Summary - end the paper by summing up what you got from the reading. Put your critical thinking skills to the test here.
A synthesis essay draws on multiple sources and multiple topics combining ideas into a unified and coherent whole.
Writing a successful synthesis essay will require you to do four things:
*read accurately and objectively.
*see relations among different viewpoints and topics.
*define a thesis based on these relations.
*support the thesis effectively.
You will not discuss all the points in every essay; but you should use every essay assigned, and you should use points from each that are appropriate for the thesis of your own essay.
A synthesis essay may be developed in several ways, including the following:
Thesis supported by examples. Develop a thesis based on common points among the works, and support the thesis with appropriate examples from each work. This strategy works well with essays that approach a subject from highly diverse viewpoints.
Comparison and contrast. Discuss the similarities and differences in the writers' viewpoints and draw whatever conclusions are possible from your comparison.
Argument. If you have a clearly defined opinion about the subject, support that opinion by incorporating the valid viewpoints of the writers of the essays you have selected, and show the weaknesses of those ideas which you feel are not valid.
- Read carefully. First, skimming through the readings and look for similar issues in each essay. Reflect on those issues, and jot down your ideas. Re-read and decide on one topic that will unify your essay. Note each essay's thesis and main points. Finally, take notes.
- Next, determine your thesis. A thesis is a direct statement of a main issue or idea that you have developed from studying the essays. If you are writing a comparison/contrast essay, your thesis may explain the main points of agreement and disagreement among the writers you are dealing with. If you are writing a thesis-with-examples essay, your thesis may state the main idea you have developed from your readings, which will be supported with examples from the readings in the body of your essay. If you are writing an argument, your thesis will state your opinion about the subject and will indicate that you will be supporting your views through an analysis of the essays.
- Then, organize your essay with your thesis in mind. The type of organization you use depends on your thesis, but in general you should be able to use either block-by-block or point-by-point organization with any of the essay types.
- Write a rough draft after you have decided on the organization you will be using. Here are some pointers: Early in your paper, mention the titles and authors of the sources you will be discussing. Quote or paraphrase brief passages from the essays to show how the essays illustrate, agree with, or disagree with each point you make.
1. Take advantage of the handbook.
The NBC Student Handbook includes a template that will give you some clear formatting guidelines. Students can have a good topic and solid information but it can get lost when it is communicated poorly. Careful attention to format is critical to a successful research paper.
2. Choose your topic wisely.
When choosing a topic, ask yourself the following questions: Am I genuinely interested in this topic? Are sources about the topic readily available? Can I cut the topic down to manageable size?
3. Use sources well.
You must be painstaking about your accuracy in quoting from outside sources. In using sources, you can either quote directly, paraphrase, or summarize. In all these cases, the original author must be acknowledged, and your writing should make it absolutely clear if you are quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing. Also, use direct quotations sparingly—only if the author's exact wording is essential or especially eloquent and enlightening. A research paper is more than a bunch of quotations strung together; you must comment on sources, show relationships between them, etc.
4. Avoid plagiarism.
Plagiarism is using a source in any way without acknowledging it. You plagiarize when you borrow someone's words without using quotation marks and giving the author's name—but you also plagiarize when you simply borrow an idea or a train of thought without citing the author. When in doubt, always cite the author. Plagiarism is a very serious offense.
5. Write a good thesis statement.
Your thesis statement is a concise statement of EXACTLY what your paper is showing, arguing, enlightening, exposing, etc. Make sure some form of this statement appears in both your introductory and concluding paragraphs. If you cannot state your paper's purpose in one or two sentences, you lack direction and need to give it some more thought!
Be aware that this critique is not about the authors’ style, whether you liked, or do not like the material, or decided it was a “good read”. Rather, you are being asked to assess the value of what you read as a source of understanding the specific topic at hand. An excellent critique will include the following components:
- A title page.
- Begin by providing the basic bibliographic data (in proper format) along with the total number of pages read.
- Your first paragraph should identify the author(s) and give their credentials for writing the book.
- Then, state the subject of the book as well as the intended audience.
- Provide a brief (but adequate) summary of the material covered in your reading.
- Carefully evaluate the clarity and organization of the material. In doing so, consider such questions as:
- Does the author write in such a way as to explain concepts, principles, or facts clearly?
- Is the material well organized, balanced and comprehensive?
- Does the author provide insightful analysis?
- How have your presuppositions been affirmed or challenged?
- How has the material shaped your worldview?
- What is one significant aspect of this subject that the author has helped you understand which you did not previously grasp?
- And would you recommend this book as a serious resource on the subject? Why or why not?
A good summary deals less with critique and more with content summary. A good academic summary succeeds when it does the following:
- It identifies the author and the source (book or article). A summary contains this information in the first sentence. Expressions you can use to introduce this information include: “According to [the author]. . . .”; “In his/her book [title], [the author] states that . . .”
- It gives credit to the author throughout. To make it clear that the ideas presented are the author’s and not your own, you should frequently use signals like “[The author] also states that . . .”
- It begins by offering a broad overview of the material (one or two sentences), which is then developed in more detail in the body of the summary.
- It uses quotation marks and page references whenever a phrase, a part of a sentence, or a complete sentence is taken directly from the source text. But it also quotes selectively and sparingly.
- It is brief, but thorough enough to accomplish its purposes.
- It is an accurate reflection of the author’s viewpoint throughout. Therefore, careful reading of the source is essential.