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Religion & Philosophy Research Guide: Citation & Research Helps

This research guide features resources and strategies for finding information and conducting research related to Religion and Philosophy.

Research Methods & Writing

Below are some helpful books on the task of research itself, and tips for theological writing. 

Research Methods and Design

For more on Qualitative, Quantitative, Mixed Methods, and other research models, see these helpful videos that accompany Creswell, Research Design (note - the book is only available in print format).

Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches | Online Resources (



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Citation & Writing Guidance

Citing Information Sources

It is important that you always cite your sources, whether you summarize, paraphrase, or directly quote from them. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense with serious consequences.

Many online resources, including EBSCO databases, provide citation generators. However, these citations are machine-generated and must always be verified against the style manual. Capitalization of titles is often an issue.

The Theological Journal Library database does not provide a citation generator so for help we have produced a Theological Journal Library Citation Guide.

For help with Turabian:

There are two styles of Chicago/Turabian formatting. Liberty prefers the Notes/Bibliography style, which has you place a footnote at the bottom of each page where a resource is quoted or paraphrased, and then have an alphabetically organized bibliography at the end of your paper. The Notes/Bibliography style is found in chapters 16 and 17 of the Turabian Manua. This style is also called the Chicago/Turabian: Humanities style by some databases (such as EBSCO) that provide suggested citations. Whenever you use a suggested citation from a database, be sure to check that they are properly capitalized, etc.

The other Chicago/Turabian Author/Date style is much more like APA formatting. This style should only be used for book review assignments.  Examples for this style are found in chapters 18 and 19 of the Turabian manual. This style uses "in text" parenthetical citations and has a reference list at the end of the paper.

In some of Divinity School classes, the professor may require non-divinity majors to use the citation format that is used in their respective programs. Here are some useful links for other citation formats:

Writing Assistance

Liberty University also provides a Writing Center for residential students and an Online Writing Center available for non-residential students.

Sample Paper

For a visual guide to writing a Turabian paper, view this sample paper and note the explanations contained within the text. 

Formatting Helps

The SBL Handbook provides many examples of Turabian/Chicago style formatting while using examples from typical resources found in biblical and theological studies. The handbook provides many standardized abbreviations for language tools, primary sources, and popular academic series.

Please give priority to any formatting guidelines provided by Liberty University or the course requirements. In all other cases, the SBL handbook can be used as a reference for citation and formatting questions.   

Getting Started on a Project

Ready to begin a new research project? Here are some suggestions to start the journey...

  • Pick a topic that interests you. Research is always easier when you have a personal passion or investment in the topic.
  • Test the waters before jumping in. Do some preliminary research, dabble in the databases, peruse several commentaries or systematics, talk over topics with a librarian, before committing to a topic.
  • Seek understanding of the topic more than taking a side just yet. The goal here is to comprehend the different perspectives, and to identify the most significant speakers or voices in the current conversation.
  • Start early and have a tentative research schedule planned, including 1 full week to edit at the end.
  • Expect things to go slow at the beginning; once the initial research is completed, the process will speed up. Quality study time is much more effective than quantity of study time. Find your rhythm and your most productive learning mode. 
  • Follow the footnotes - keep an eye out for materials that get cited more often or that lead to additional helpful resources. 
  • Take careful notes the first time and document everything. You can always edit down later.
  • Today, the problem is more often about having too much information available and too many resources to sift through. Set a limit and stop the researching so you can do the editing (see below).

Time to Edit that Research Paper

Here is a checklist for writing a great theological research paper:

  1. State the Problem (prove the need for the research)
  2. Define Key Terms, the different viewpoints, or positions. 
  3. State a clear, propositional, Thesis truth claim.
  4. Focus the thesis; keep the goals narrow and specific. Even better...make an appointment with your liaison librarian to talk about the project.
  5. Outline your Method or steps of analysis.
  6. Present Evidence; build an inductive case.
  7. Anticipate objections and Engage Counter Views.
  8. Provide a Conclusion (mere summary and highlights). 
  9. Return to the Thesis claim. Is there just one claim and has it been demonstrated (defended) well? Add a little metacommentary if needed. Repeat steps #1-8 if necessary!
  10. Edit for grammar, spelling, and formatting. Breathe deeply. Edit for style and objectivity. Take a walk. Edit for reduction, concision, and clarity. Eat some chocolate. Edit for assignment goals. Connect with family and friends. Edit again and submit. Enjoy some de-stress events and activities at the JFL (or maybe just take a nice, well-deserved nap).