Type: Research Proposal
Subject: Religion and Theology
The first assignment for the course involves preparing for your final research paper. The components of this assignment include a research question and a purpose and design statement. It must contain at least 8 sources, at least 6 of which must be peer-reviewed. The specific research question should relate to a topic covered in the course.
Length: 6-8 pp. inclusive.
The purpose of this assignment is to formulate the topic you’ll research and design a “game plan” for getting the research done. As you work more on the topic, it will inevitably change and refine — it’s okay if there are some rough edges in your design because the whole point of research is to find and solve problems.
Picking a Topic
This is very likely the trickiest part of the assignment, but also the most fun because it can involve taking inventory of your interests. The challenge is to pick a topic that is appropriate in scope and relevance, while also being academically researchable. We want a topic that has open-ended questions and problems you can explore, but not one that is so broad we can’t cover it adequately in one term paper. One strategy for finding your topic is to start with the Course Objectives, which are very broad. Review the Course Objectives (posted in the Lessons, under Course Overview>Course Information). Pick one that is most interesting to you as a starting place, or consider which one best represents the questions on your mind. This can help you find the broader framework that you’re interested in researching. Next, identify the problem or question that interests you. Avoid working on something that you know a lot about — starting a research project with a foregone conclusion adds a lot of challenges to the research process. To narrow your topic, you can start with an interest in a particular country in the Middle East, a particular group within Islam, a particular event that struck you as interesting. Narrow the topic until you can arrive on specifics.
Example of a topic that’s too broad for a term paper: “The compatibility of Islam and democracy.” No term paper could do this topic any justice, as there are many countries, contexts, and strands of debate and discussion to follow. To narrow this example, we would have to find a specific context (country, event, etc.) to focus on, or identify a key figure or argument that can be engaged with.
Another example of narrowing a broad topic down: suppose you want to write on “women in Islam.” This is also very broad area, since there are many Islamic contexts and no single, universal idea about how women stand in Islam. To address this, we could pick an interesting context to focus on, such as recent changes in laws in a country like Saudi Arabia, or women’s participation in the Arab Spring demonstrations in Tunis specifically. You get the idea. Use lots of proper nouns to define your topic, and this will help you keep the topic appropriately focused.
Once you have a topic in mind, take those proper nouns you identified and search for them in the Library or APUS Summon. Be sure to select “Peer Review” (left-hand side of the screen in Summon) to ensure you’re getting academic sources and not news articles. If you see lots of scholarly results, this is a good sign that your topic is researchable. If you don’t see many results, you may have to refine your search terms to see if there’s another way. If you hit a wall, don’t hesitate to write the instructor for discussion — sometimes another pair of eyes on the topic can help see new ways to the research.
It will be interest to see all the different ideas the class comes up with!
Save and Submit
When you’ve finished and edited your submission, save it under LASTNAME_HWI.doc(x). Then submit the document for grading under Assignments.
Don’t forget to edit and spell-check before submission
All assignments for the School of Security and Global Studies (papers, essays, exams, and Forums) must follow the Chicago Style Manual guidelines. Refer to Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 7th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press found at http://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/turabian/turabian_citationguide.html.
All written submissions should be submitted in Times New Roman 12 pt font with 1” margins, typewritten in double-spaced format. Graduate-level work is expected to be free of grammar, usage, and style errors.
It is very important that students are aware of and comply with the APUS policy on plagiarism in the Student Handbook. To find the plagiarism policy, go to the vertical toolbar in the classroom and click “Policy”.
Possible Points Student
Topic and Research Question
(relevance, clarity, quality) 30
Research Design 30
(around 8; 6 peer-reviewed) 15
Source Presentation (proper Turbian) 10
Grammar and Proofreading 15
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