How to Write a Carey Theological College Paper

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How to Write a Carey Theological College Paper
By Cari S. A. Student
1. Sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a well-lighted place with plenty of freshly sharpened pencils and
a cup of Starbucks.
2. Read over the assignment carefully, to make certain you understand it.
3. Walk to the kitchen and get some more coffee to help you concentrate.
4. Stop off on the way back and visit with somebody -- anybody. And talk about pressures until your
friend suggests you can both walk to McDonalds and buy a hamburger to help you concentrate. If
your friend is also a student in the class and shows you her paper, typed, double-spaced, and bound in
one of those irritating see-thru plastic folders, drop her.
5. When you get back to your room, sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a clean, well-lighted place with
plenty of freshly sharpened pencils. Go to the bathroom since you have had too much coffee already.
6. Read over the assignment again to make absolutely certain you understand it. Try to intuit the
professor’s intent.
7. You know, you haven't emailed that kid you met at camp when you were both in grade four. You'd
better write that letter now and get it out of the way so you can concentrate.
8. Go look at your teeth in the bathroom mirror.
9. Listen to one of your favorite worship CDs and that's it, I mean it, as soon as it's over, start that paper.
10. Rearrange all of your CDs into alphabetical order.
11. Phone your friend (the one you might have had to drop but didn’t because she is a procrastinator like
you) and ask if she's started writing yet. Exchange remarks about your professor, the course, the
College, and the world at large.
12. Sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a clean, well-lighted place with plenty of freshly sharpened
pencils. You might want to get a bagel because now you are really going to begin.
13. Read over the assignment again; roll the words across your tongue; savor its special flavor. Imagine
what it will be like when the professor says, “This is the best paper I have ever read.”
14. Practice humility as you get that “A.” Check your humble posture in the mirror.
15. Check the newspaper listings to make sure you aren't missing something truly worthwhile on TV.
NOTE: When you have a paper due in less than 12 hours, anything on TV from “The Office” to
“Oprah” is worthwhile, with these exceptions: a) pro bowler's tour; b) anything with Pierce Brosnan.
16. Catch the last hour of Soul Brother of Kung Fu in HD on channel 226.
17. Phone your friend to see if she was watching. Discuss the finer points of the plot.
18. Go look at your tongue in the bathroom mirror.
19. Look through your photo album. Check out who is fatter than whom.
20. Sit down and do some serious thinking about your plans for the future. Does completing this course
factor in at all?
21. Open your door and check to see if there are any mysterious trench-coated strangers lurking outside.
22. Sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a clean, well-lighted place with plenty of freshly sharpened
pencils. No more coffee for you. And the bagel was stale.
23. Read over the assignment one more time, just for the thrill of it. See if you have memorized it.
24. Scoot your chair across the room to the window and watch the sunrise.
25. Lie face down on the floor and moan. Then pray that you have the gift of typing in tongues.
OR … (please turn to page 2) …
August 20, 2013
Paddy Ducklow | Carey Theological College | | [email protected] | 604.225.5911
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Actually… this is Really How to Write a Paper at Carey
But Not Nearly as Much Fun
This is what I (Paddy but probably some of the other faculty) expect my Carey Theological College
classes at the Masters and Doctoral level. If you follow these guidelines, you have a pretty good chance of
getting a “B” or “B+” in my course. You need to know that I think that a “B” is a really great grade even
if you don’t. But you can certainly strive for greater brilliance and some of you will achieve an “A” grade.
But the purpose of learning is learning and not obtaining. Read on.
Topic Appropriate To The Course
Decide early in the course what you want to write on. Make sure it is within the parameters of the course.
Make sure that you have not written on this subject for another course at Regent College or Carey
Theological College or elsewhere. This is called self-plaigarism and is not allowed. If you are unsure
about your topic, speak to me about it. I am quite flexible and I want your work to be of some value to
you – however, it must be a topic central to this course. And this can be a big problem. Ask yourself: “Is
my intended topic appropriate for this course?”
Psychological Application
“What’s Paddy’s thing about psychology?” you ask. Psychology is the study of people and how people
connect to themselves and others, including God. If you are interested in theology (the study of God and
how He connects to people) you are probably interested in psychology since God seems pretty interested
in people. Get it?
Many of my courses focus on some psychological theory (as well as Biblical theology), especially Family
Systems Theory. If you are confused about Family Systems Theory and wish to know more, read Ron
Richardson’s “Family Ties That Bind” for an excellent overview. (You can also do a Google search on
Family Systems Theory to find quite a bit of material.) However, you will hear me talk about Edwin
Friedman and “Generation to Generation” and I think every remunerated churchman / woman ought to
own this resource (I know it is expensive) – pastoral leaders should read this again and again, year after
year. Also, if you have opportunity to do a 3-generational genogram for part of your assignment, do it.
Personal Response To a Topic
I am very much interested in your personal response to the chosen topic of your paper. But be careful – if
your paper sounds like a feature on a soap opera, it is probably not appropriate for this class. Please note
that your personal reflection can be biblical reflection and thoughtfulness, or it can be your own personal
experience – but keep it brief. Avoid serial anecdotes. It may be that you are delivering yourself of family
demons. In other words, writing a paper is not a cheap therapy session.
Using Scriptures
August 20, 2013
Paddy Ducklow | Carey Theological College | | [email protected] | 604.225.5911
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Here you are going to think that I am a heretic. I love the Bible but I dislike it when my students string
together a bunch of unrelated Scriptures as “proof” of some sort of opinion they already hold dearly. Do
good exegesis and superb theological reasoning and we will get along fine.
Source Scholarly Textbooks and Articles
 Avoid the popular journal and text sources (e.g. Readers Digest, Christianity Today, Time, Leadership
Journal, Geez, etc.) except where they are obviously excellent. You should be looking in the
professional literature (e.g. Family Process, Ethnicity and Family Therapy, The Family Therapy
Networker, Newsletter of the American Family Therapy Association, Family Resources, etc.). Where
do you find these journals? At the UBC library or other university library in the humanities section.
Also, look in Social Work, Nursing, Psychiatry and other related disciplines. Do the same for your
theology sources.
 Typically, you will research about 4-8 academic texts and 10-12 scholarly articles directly relevant to
your topic. That is, if you are working on “Developmental Stages for the Middle Child” then you
should find 4-8 texts that look at “developmental stages” or “middle children” or “birth order” (etc.).
These resources will lead you to articles – look in the references, footnotes and bibliography.
 Please do not ask me for my book recommendations for your research topic. You are the researcher
and you will discover better resources than me. I am certainly able to help you narrow down for the
selection of a topic but not do your research for the topic.
 Good advice coming up. The key to finding resources is to spend 2-3 hours in the library (prior to
writing anything substantial) with a role of quarters for the Xerox machine that you are committed to
spend. Buy yourself some coffee and a cheese sandwich, look up “conflict,” “marriage,” “parenting,”
“Family Systems Theory,” “Christian character,” “developmental stages” or your specific topic and
start to browse. When you find something that is really interesting to you, Xerox it (or Canon it or
Toshiba it). Then follow the rabbit trails of the author’s research through footnotes and bibliography.
This should lead you to something interesting and worth writing about.
 Take all your research that you have copied, 3-hole punch it and place it in a 3-ring binder. Do this for
all your courses – it will be a great resource for your future work.
 Pick a topic that excites, interests, informs and / or scares you. Don’t pick a topic that you think I like.
(What could be more boring than trying to figure out what Paddy wants and writing on that?) And
don’t write on a topic that you already know lots about. Figure out what you need to gain, or want to
gain out of this course? Write on that.
 Physically attach 1 or 2 of the better articles to your paper. I will keep these and circulate to future
students who can benefit from your work. Thank you in advance for this generosity. Kindly make
clear copies so I really can use them. Otherwise they go in the recycle bin and its all a waste of time.
 The paper should have 15-20+ effective quotes over a 10-page paper. That may sound like a lot. But it
gives you an opportunity to show your research. The quotes should reflect your research and be well
distributed among your research. Quoting one book over and over is not appropriate (I do notice these
things). I want to see all your resources referenced thoughtfully.
August 20, 2013
Paddy Ducklow | Carey Theological College | | [email protected] | 604.225.5911
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 Speaking about references… download “Zotero” now and learn to use it. You will discover this is an
excellent resource for references and bibliography. There is a format for PC and Mac, its free and it is
incredibly useful. You can pick any format you like but I prefer APA. Now there are no excuses for
inaccurate references.
Cautions – read this carefully, again and again
 Watch out for writing papers that are “opinionated but not researched.” I call these “faithful but
faulty” papers (“keen but clueless” sounds good, too). To affirm biblical truths is right and true (e.g.
“God hates divorce”) — but this is not sufficient in an academic research paper. (Did you know that
God also hates the sexual abuse of children, boring and irrelevant preaching, killing seals for rich
women’s coats, lazy faith that never does anything? And more.)
 Watch out about being overly personal, intimate and informal. To do something that has value to you
is good — but if it is only valuable to you, or you want me to know how tough your life has been, it
probably is not a research paper. Talk to a spiritual director instead.
 Avoid polemical papers. If it sounds like you are making a speech, then make a speech somewhere
else (hire a church hall), but don’t do it in your paper. Your work is to be academic and thinking
oriented -- please write a thinking-type paper.
 Avoid cross-cultural papers. No I am not dismissing your language, history, culture and heritage. I just
don’t know it well enough to evaluate it. So be very cautious here. By the way, in spite of this
warning I still get a lot of papers on the Chinese and how Family Systems Theory won’t work. Please
don’t do this to me.
 Watch out if you are using one text, or one website, or one article almost exclusively. Relying too
heavily on one source will hurt your grade and limit your learning.
 If I ask you to do a “psycho-spiritual” something (e.g. psycho-spiritual commentary on a biblical
passage), I am asking you to find the meeting point between psychology and spirituality. Reflect on
the best psychology you know and the best theology you know. Experience the tension. Try not to
obliterate one by the other.
Proper Formatting for your Major Paper
 Please see one of the standard protocols for formatting – you can choose on Zotero. The Regent
College bookstore and UBC Library has books that might help you here, plus there are web-based
resources that can help you as well.
 If you are unclear what an Academic Paper is, please see and see:
“How to Write an A+ Research Paper.” Also please see “Guidelines for Writing a Paper” on the Carey
Theological College website.
 All work is to be typed, including journals, book reports and the like. No exceptions.
 Title page: please put your name on it. You would be amazed how many wonderful papers I get and
then I have to guess who wrote it. Number your pages please. Put your email address on the front page
as well as when you submitted your paper or work. This really helps me. Thanks a lot.
August 20, 2013
Paddy Ducklow | Carey Theological College | | [email protected] | 604.225.5911
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 I want an outline of your paper after your title page so that I can track your arguments easily. Please
do not staple this in your paper but place it between your title page and the first page.
 Don’t use exclamation marks! I AM OFFENDED BY SHOUTING!!!! And I don’t like ALL CAPS
either!! MAKES ME MAD!!!
 Font: not smaller than 11 Arial. (This outline is typed in Times New Roman 12.) This is Arial 8 and I know
you can get more words on a page with this font size but if I can’t read it you will probably get a lousy grade. Please do not use
“fancy” fonts – stick to the basics.
 And don’t use
have. Thanks.
huge fonts to make me think that you have actually written more than you
 By the way, I really like point form (numbered points). I know this is weird but it reduces the verbiage
and gets to the point efficiently. Give it a try in some of your work.
 Here is another weird thing I like – when you think you have made a great point, tell me this by
underlining it. Then I won’t miss how brilliant you really are. And footnote what you have done so I
remember that you are showing something brilliant here. Do it like this.1
 All work is to be submitted by computer via Blackboard / Connect. If your work is late, you may not
be able to submit via Connect and then you will have to email it to me at the email address below.
And if I get it through my email address it serves as a reminder to me to dock you a letter grade or
more because of lateness.
Other Format Stuff
 Please submit your Word documents digitally. If you do not have Word then you can submit your
work in OpenOffice – it’s great, it’s free and it “reads” Word. ( No more
excuses. Do not submit in RTF or text formats.2
 Ensure that you have digital copies of all the work, just in case the dog eats the first copy or you drop
it in the snow. This comment is actually totally irrelevant as you will submitting (not handing in) all
your work on Blackboard and you will always have a digital copy.
 Write an outline. Use the outline as the skeleton of your writing. Use your section heads throughout
your paper. Use the outline as your intro to the paper. Then I know where you are going. It helps me
to give you a better grade. Smile.
 Provide a brief introductory paragraph clearly saying what you intend to cover in your essay. I like
good intros – it makes me excited about what I am reading.
 Make sure that the title titles what you are writing.
 If you need to define something (e.g. “pastoral care”) then clearly write what your definition is. You
can use a dictionary, Wikipedia, books, classroom instruction and the like. Do not illustrate a
definition (e.g. “To me pastoral care is when…”), rather, define it.
I am writing something brilliant here.
This is pretty smart too.
August 20, 2013
Paddy Ducklow | Carey Theological College | | [email protected] | 604.225.5911
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 Use footnotes and not endnotes (unless your computer does not permit this).3
 In your bibliography, reference texts as well as scholarly articles and websites. Use Zotero – it will
save you tons of time.
 10 scholarly articles is normally a recommended minimum for an academic paper of 10-12 pages. Yes
Virginia, you have to find articles, not just read parts of books or search the web.
 Your paper is to demonstrate competency in the psychology-sociology-theology-pastoral care of the
topic and to reflect Christian faith and commitment.
 If you decide to do a genogram, there are software programs to assist you. If you choose to do this by
hand, you can scan the images into your Word document.
Cross-Cultural Students / Students with Disabilities
Carey Theological College has the privilege of working with a good number of cross-cultural students and
some with disabilities. All of the faculty will work with you for your success.
Some of our students will be allowed extra time to complete assignments (e.g. the visually impaired). This
is required by our Canadian constitution and is not a “special privilege.”
 If English is not your “heart language,” then we can possibly assist you with translation or writing
 It is okay with me and I think the rest of our faculty if you get someone else to format, re-read, type,
translate or whatever else you need to help in the presentation of the paper or other assignment. I am
not talking about the content or subject of the paper. Just let me know this on the title page that you
have required some assistance and the specifics of the assistance. This is especially important for
cross-cultural students and students with disabilities.
You May Be Required To Grade Your Paper
I love this part. I get to see what you think about what you wrote. I am interested if you can see clearly
your strengths and weaknesses. It’s called “differentiation” in family systems theory.
Provide an honest evaluation. Summarize your strengths and weaknesses in your paper. Give yourself a
realistic grade. Be honest. Don’t worry about trying to look perfect. I already know you and I aren’t
perfect, so I am okay with you doing imperfect work.
Try to be objective about your work. A “C” paper will not get an “A” grade because you over evaluate
your efforts. And “reverse psychology” does not work for me, either. Just evaluate yourself with the best
judgment that you can bring to your work.
Here are some questions you could consider in evaluating yourself:
 What are the strengths of this paper?
 How would I improve this paper if I were to do it again?
Great idea here!
August 20, 2013
Paddy Ducklow | Carey Theological College | | [email protected] | 604.225.5911
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 What did I learn from writing this paper and how might this affect my professional and personal life?
 What other research could I do in the future with this as the foundation?
 How does faith and theology interact with the relational and psychological?
 What grade would I give myself if I were the prof?
 How does my work and research benefit the church?
Some students evaluate themselves by saying that “there was not enough time to write a decent paper”
(see Cari Student on page 1 of this document). This argument is probably insufficient. Saying that you
organized your time poorly or didn’t prioritize the work in this course is probably more realistic.
Reading Reports
I think that I give pretty good readings for you. But (and this is important.) they may not be Christian and
they may not “pat” you theologically. They are supposed to make you think; even get distraught. And if
you throw the book across the room (as I have done with some books), doubt my sanity or salvation in
recommending it, well then we are getting somewhere.
In your responses you can write anything that is most helpful to you. However, a topic-by-topic summary
can be kind of boring (e.g. “Then he said this and then he said that.”).
In your reporting of the articles, I am generally interested in your response to the following questions:
 What is the writer passionate about?
 How did his passions interact with you and your passions?
 How were you offended? How were you thrilled?
 In spite of your response, how did you grow or not grow?
 How does what she writes about impact you and your view (or experience) of marriage and family or
leadership or whatever?
 What contributions does this book or article make to a Christian understanding of the topic?
 What contributions does this book or article make for you?
 If I was to teach this, what would I say?
Online Posting (I-Posts and R-Posts) in Our Hybrid and Online Courses
Note how much time you are to invest in your weekly posting (each course varies by a bit) and the
number of initiating and responding posts you are to make. Here is some advice on your writing:
 In our hybrid and online courses you will be required to do I-Posts (initiating) and R-Posts
(responding). Both types of posts are to be academic, forceful, enthusiastic, well-referenced,
reflective, spiritually alive, Biblical, a bit personal, in all ways terrific and in a really short space. (And
I am big on non-perfectionism! Who would think it?)
August 20, 2013
Paddy Ducklow | Carey Theological College | | [email protected] | 604.225.5911
Page 8 of 9
 Each initiating (I-Post) and responding post (R-Post) needs to be informed and well referenced. You
may reference our course material, texts you are reading, other people’s postings, Scriptural sources,
academic papers. But this is not just a time to flex your opinions. You are to think. (Did you know that
Christians were thought of as thinkers before we were called believers? Something is surely lost by
being mostly a believer.)
 Be a bit gritty and challenging. Did anyone learn or grow in character without some grittiness and
challenge? Do we all need to be affirmed for everything we do, even when we do it poorly? Get over
your need to be loved by everyone – it is totally unrealistic.
 Avoid postings like, “Thanks for the wonderful insights everybody. I feel almost transfigured now,”
or “I just love how you post – you are so thoughtful.” I think of this stuff as candyfloss. It is unthoughtful and nutritionally empty, dissolves into instant sugar and is hyperbolized beyond reason
(Have you been to a fair where you spend $8 or more on a brilliant blue or pink, 3-foot cloud of
stickiness that your kid wants and then smears it all over his/her hair and clothes? If not, can you
imagine it?). So now you get my opinion of empty enthusiasm as in “I just love your orange shirt!”
 Now with all this grittiness and avoidance of empty enthusiasm, I still like it when you are genuinely
appreciative (look up Appreciative Inquiry and see how to do this in question form rather than
imperative form). You may wish to write a prayer or a poem or quote a song. How about posting some
music or art? I like creativity too.
 Keep to the number of words I have recommended in your syllabus. If you get passionate and go long,
I won’t dock you but if you go long and are boring, I might.
 A little empathy here. These are the most complex, exhausting and confronting assignments that we
offer at Carey Theological College (my opinion). They are also the hub of great learning personally
and professionally. While these postings are hard, we have all learned to “count our blessings one by
one… and see what the Lord has done.”
Final Word (or Words)
It is hard to fail my courses (though some have tried extraordinarily). Now, if you do a terrible job in all
of your assignments (according to my evaluation, not yours), I will probably give you an extension and
work with you on another topic. And I will lower your grade because it is late and also because I believe
in fairness with the other students. But at least you will have passed if you do well on your next
Be careful about “plagiarism.” If you do not know this word, please resource Carey’s academic catalogue
and look for “academic integrity.” If you find that you are “borrowing” more than you meant to, tell me
and we will work it out. For me this is not usually a moral issue as much as it is a problem to be corrected,
like a broken arm needs a cast.
Having said all this, I know you want to get an “A” and you might even say that you deserve to get an
“A.” Very few people get to graduate school without getting a few of them along the way. And it is nice
to have that 12-second rush (like heroin I am told) that someone “gets” your brilliance and says that your
work is outstanding.
August 20, 2013
Paddy Ducklow | Carey Theological College | | [email protected] | 604.225.5911
Page 9 of 9
However, about getting an “A” in my class: I don’t really think that focusing on your evaluation makes
that much sense. I prefer that you would learn something that helps your marriage (or perhaps your future
marriage); that you meet some great people in the class and discover some wonderful thinkers through
your readings; that you interact a bit with your personal history and discover something that you had
never known; that you fall more deeply into a love for Jesus and His people (in church and out of it); and
that you learn something about how God and family and culture work together and what incarnation has
to do with all this; and that you discern God’s call for your body and soul and relationships; and that you
build a character that God can be proud of and that you find rest in.
Getting an “A” is important to some of you (as it has been to me) but in the long run, a grade in this
course is a very small thing indeed. What you might want to do is set your sites on the Kingdom (e.g.
“They kingdom come, they will be done…”) and not on an academic evaluation.
But having said all this, please don’t write lousy papers and submit careless work. This takes me twice or
thrice the time and effort to grade it. If I have to work overtime just figuring out what you are trying to
say and figuring out a way to tell you that your work is inadequate, well, this wrecks my whole evening.
And then if the Canucks lose, I might get really depressed. (Have I guilt-ed you into working hard and
doing your best?)
And, if you have any problems with anything, you can send me an email or come by my office at Carey
Theological College with some chocolate and coffee (no cream and no sugar) and we can talk.
So, sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a well-lighted place with plenty of freshly sharpened pencils and
a cup of Starbucks. And begin…
Peace to you as you wonder, wander, worship and write.
[Paddy Ducklow, the Prof of some of your courses]
August 20, 2013
Paddy Ducklow | Carey Theological College | | [email protected] | 604.225.5911