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TypeWhat type of data will I need to solve my problem? Will a purely literary study suffice, or will the study require an empirical component as well?Therefore, what type of study should I conduct? Therefore, will this study fall under practical theology, biblical studies, systematic theology, or another field?LogicHow will the logic of the study unfold? What are the steps you should follow in order to carry out the study? [These often correspond to the key questions.] In what order should they be carried out?Which model seems most appropriate for the study? Amongst the available research models/designs, which one seems most appropriate for your study?How do I need to customize it for my study? Will it fit your study perfectly ‘as is’, or will you need to customize it? If you need to customize it, explain how. If not, explain why.
Dialogical: simply dialoguing with different authors’ viewpoints.Comparative: comparing different views, analysing their similarities and differences.Complementary: harmonising different theories or views by moulding them into a single, logically coherent whole.Epistemological: critiquing the philosophical foundation on which a theory or an argument is based.Polemical: arguing for or against a particular viewpoint.Analytical: breaking down a theory or a concept into its logical components or constituents.Synthetic: putting together previously unrelated concepts or components to form a new entity (theory, model).
Textual criticism: reconstructing the original text.Historical criticism: reconstructing the history of the text or the history in the text.Lexical analysis: conducting word studies on key words.Syntax analysis: analysing the grammar of the passage.Discourse analysis: analysing the discourse features of a whole text.Source criticism: analysing the sources an author used.Redaction criticism: exploring the theological message of a text.Structural criticism: analysing the literary and semantic structure of a text.Rhetorical criticism: studying the literary artistry or rational argument of a text.
Questionnaire: a series of written questions a researcher supplies to subjects, requesting their response. Different kinds of questions solicit different types of data (e.g., open or closed questions, quantitative or qualitative questions).Interview: a series of questions a researcher addresses personally to respondents. The interview can be structured or unstructured. As with questionnaires, different questions solicit different kinds of data.Observation: in fieldwork, observation occurs when the researcher observes the subjects; in participant observation, a researcher systematically observes people while joining in their activities; in action research, a researcher observes without participating.Survey: a statistical study designed to provide a broad overview of a representative sample of a large population.Focus group: a group discussion to solicit views about a focus area.Case study: the collection and presentation of detailed information about a particular participant, looking intensely at an individual or small participant pool, drawing conclusions only about that participant or group and only in that specific context.
Out-dated works. The majority of entries should be from the last 10-15 years. The dates are among the first things I look at when I skim the bibliography in a research proposal. I do no want to see the majority of entries from the 1960s. Entries older than 25 years should be seminal works in the field.Popular works. A thesis is a piece of theological research. It needs to engage with academic literature, which is the product of research. Popular and devotional books (as opposed to academic sources) express the opinions and experiences of the author, but those views may not be well researched. The majority of works need to be academic resources.Irrelevant works. Students often fill up their bibliography by listing resources unrelated to the proposed research topic. If your thesis topic is ‘the work of the Holy Spirit in Luke’s gospel’, do not list Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People in the bibliography. When I see this, I immediately suspect the student has been too lazy to do a proper job and is listing works for the sake of reaching 20 entries.General works. Try to include as many specialised books and articles as possible. Although one-volume commentaries, Bible dictionaries or systematic theology textbooks may prove helpful during the study, specialised works are more valuable. For a thesis proposal on Psalm 3, Kselman’s article on the structure of Psalm 3 is more helpful than The New Bible Commentary.