Gender equality in Religion
PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION.
RESEARCH PAPER ASSIGNMENT AND INSTRUCTIONS
Overall Paper Grade: 50 points
Length of Paper: 5-7 pages (2200-3000 words), typescript and double-spaced
Due Date: Wednesday May 17 by 1:00 p.m.
I—Topics and Nature of the Paper: A Comparative Paper
a)—Paper’s Topic and Nature of the Paper: The student is encouraged to develop
a personal research project on one of the philosophical issues raised in philosophy of
religion in general and in this course in particular—issues brought up either in class or in
course materials. The research paper must compare the perspectives or viewpoints of two
writers or groups of writers on a specific issue or on two belief systems. Papers can be
related to such issues as religion and society/politics, religion and science, belief and
unbelief (or theism and atheism), pantheism and monotheism, etc. The paper can also deal
with issues at the intersection of religion and philosophy. But the issue being considered
must be analyzed mainly from the vantage point of philosophy or critical thinking.
The comparative analysis at work in the paper entails showing the differences and/or
similarities between the two thinkers or groups of thinkers on the issue/topic or belief
systems being examined in the works of these thinkers.
The student can also choose to write on a single thinker or religious belief system or
religious group. But they must use secondary sources which allow them critically assess the
views of the thinker or belief system or religious group being analyzed.
b)—The instructor must be informed of the topic being chosen before the student
starts developing her/his writing.
c)—Nature and Structure of the Research Paper: The research paper must include
both an analytical exposition of writers’ respective views on the issue under consideration as
well as a critical discussion and assessment of these writers’ perspectives on the issue under
consideration. But the paper must be more analytical and evaluative (i.e., reflective and
critical) than expository.
II—The Nature of the Sources used for the paper:
a)—Primary and Secondary Sources: This comparative analysis of the viewpoints of two
writers must be based on at least one writing of each of the two writers (two writings total).
The two writings make up the primary sources or main sources of the paper. Consequently,
these two primary sources must be of high quality. Each one of the primary sources must be
at least 8 page long.
In addition to the above primary sources, the student must find at least two
secondary sources. Secondary sources differ from primary sources, which are original
writings from either the thinkers or cultures or belief systems under consideration.
Secondary sources are supporting sources; they are commentaries or critiques on either the
main thinkers or on the issue being analyzed in the paper. All in all, the secondary sources
must correspond to the issue dealt with in the primary sources. Each secondary source
must deal with either one or both thinkers or belief systems being considered in the paper;
each secondary source must also deal with the main topic of the paper.
b)—Restrictions on the Paper’s Sources:
(1)–The paper’s sources (primary or secondary) cannot be directly taken from the textbook
used in class. The paper’s primary and secondary sources must result from the student’s
own research. However, at most one article or essay from the textbook can be located to its
original source and used as a secondary source (having been read not from the textbook but
from this original source). The student can also cite an essay from the textbook on top of the
four required primary and secondary sources.
(2)–The paper’s secondary sources must all come from scholarly or peer-reviewed
publications— such as journals or magazines of philosophy, journals of religion, journals of
politics, or journals of related fields, such as psychology, history, literature, cultural studies,
or social studies. They can also come from books (mainly as book chapters), institutional or
organizational documents (namely documents of the official teachings/views of wellestablished
organizations or groups, such as documents of the American Philosophical
Association or of an association of theologians, or of the United Nations, UNESCO, or of
the Vatican. One of the secondary sources can be a documentary film (such as a You-tube
(3)–Texts or essays just taken from any website and which did not result from peerreviewed
publications or did not come from official texts from well-established
organizations will not be accepted as valuable sources, unless they are cited on top of the
four required sources. But the main content of the paper must not depend on such sources.
c)—Where to find scholarly or peer-reviewed publications?
You can use Google Scholar to search for such publications.
III—The Threefold Structure of the Paper:
The paper must include:
(1)—An Introduction to the paper, which is an opening statement that announces
the different steps or the procedure of the paper and states the main point(s) of the paper or
your own thesis (if any). In the introduction, you inform the reader of the topic or
issue/issues dealt with in the paper, conveying the topic’s importance. The introduction must
be concise: no longer than two long paragraphs, ideally one long paragraph.
(2)—The Main Body of the paper includes multiple parts or sections: this is where
all the comparative analysis and discussion take place. Try to limit your comparative
analysis to 3-5 specific aspects of the topic or issue being considered, and be thorough in
your examination or analysis of these different aspects of the topic. Your own positions
must be stated at the end of the analysis of each aspect of the topic; but you can also state
your entire position at the end of the entire analysis. Try to break down the main ideas into
separate paragraphs, preferably with the inclusion of subtitles for each main idea or aspect
of the paper. This will improve the physical presentation of your paper, making it easily
accessible and legible.
(3)—And a Conclusion, which is a summation or recapitulation of the main points
made or positions stated, as well as of the main differences and similarities, and of your own
IV—Essential Features of the Main Body of the Paper:
The following are the essential features of the main body of the research paper:
(1)—You must start the analysis of each aspect of the topic or issue by clearly stating
the writers’ positions and arguments. Then, these positions and arguments must be
thoroughly explained and analyzed as you proceed with the comparative analysis.
(2)—A clear statement of the contrasts between these writers on a given aspect of the
topic under consideration must follow.
(3)—The student must then develop her/his analysis of the respective positions and
arguments of each of the writers, then must devote sufficient time in comparing and
contrasting these writers’ positions and arguments, drawing mainly from each of the
primary sources and secondarily from the secondary sources as well.
(4)—Then, the student must discuss or critically assess (from her/his vantage point)
the positions and arguments of the two writers as they are expressed in the primary sources
as well as the supporting arguments or views spelled out in the secondary sources.
(5)—The student should be willing to take side for or against any of the views
expressed by either one of the two parties. In addition, s/he must clearly state the arguments
in support of her/his position. This critical discussion or assessment will testify for the
student’s grasp of the issue(s) under consideration as well her/his mastery of the topic.
V—Steps to be followed in researching for and writing the Paper:
(1)— Start by consulting reference sources such as encyclopedias of philosophy or
religion, cultural studies or of related disciplines (in print or in electronic form), online
sources, or the textbooks to find out what is said about the views of any of the thinkers,
belief systems, or issues you intend to write on. Encyclopedias and any of the above tools
will list a certain number of bibliographical references or sources on your topic that can be
helpful to you and can serve as primary or/and secondary sources.
(2)—Look for commentaries and critiques listed in the reference sources you have
just consulted and start reading some of these commentaries on the thinkers and/or the topic
of your paper. Such writings constitute secondary sources. In other words, you are best
served by starting your research on a specific philosopher or thinker with secondary sources
instead of with primary sources. These secondary sources will guide you in choosing the
right primary sources from these thinkers’ original writings, and will very likely make
the primary sources more accessible to you.
(3)—Construct a bibliography consisting of books, essays, or articles of the thinkers
or belief systems under consideration (primary sources) and of commentaries or critiques
around these thinkers or belief systems (secondary sources). Make use of electronic
databases such as the Philosopher’s Index, Humanities International Complete, Literature
Resource Center, Project Muse, Web of Knowledge or Google Scholar for the construction
of your bibliography, or databases of the same nature. Select only those writings that you
consider as strong and intellectually sound and enriching. Identify the primary sources,
distinguishing them from commentaries or critical essays (which make up the secondary
sources). You can also group these writings in two categories: those used in the writing of
your paper and those that you briefly consulted but which are not being retained in the
development of your paper.
(4)—Take the time to read and to familiarize yourself with the sources/writings
selected from your research, sources which make up your bibliography.
(5)—Start writing by presenting the viewpoints of the thinkers or belief systems
under consideration according to the features listed in part IV.
(6)—Make an effort to use mainly your own words in explaining to the reader the
two perspectives on the issue or belief systems being analyzed. When using direct
quotations, do so sparingly and make sure that your quotations are short. Quote only when
absolutely necessary, and mainly to illustrate or emphasize a crucial point made by any of
(7)—Use footnotes or endnotes to cite documents or writings where your ideas or
main concepts are taken from; in that way, you will avoid taking ownership of ideas that are
not yours (not citing such sources would amount to plagiarism). Be precise in citing your
sources. Avoid vague attributions and sweeping generalizations.
(8)—Once the main body of the paper is complete, write the final version of your
conclusion in one extended paragraph or in multiple paragraphs to reflect your analysis
made in the body of the paper.
(9)—Then write the final version of your introduction. Your introduction must reflect
the conclusion arrived at in the paper.
(10)—Once your paper is completed, double check the paper title to make sure that
it reflects the content of your paper and that it clearly expresses the message you would like
to convey to the reader about your paper. Make sure that the title is narrow but explicit
enough to reflect the content of your paper.
(11)—Then, carefully proofread your paper before submitting it.
VI—Citing your Sources: All sources used must be correctly cited. In other words, you
need to include a bibliography using the Chicago Documentation Style which consists in the
use of footnotes or endnotes. Please consult The Chicago Manual of Style for this
documentation style. The student can choose to quote using either footnotes or endnotes, but
must do so consistently. The Chicago Documentation Style can be found in a variety of
handbooks and internet websites. The latter website from the University of Minnesota gives
you an abbreviated description of this documentation style:
The student will lose points if sources are not correctly documented.
VII—The Assessment of your Paper is principally on the basis of content—i.e., depth of
your analysis, depth of understanding of concepts, the adequacy and coherence of your
supporting line of reasoning—and on the quality of your secondary sources, but also, to a
great extent, on the quality of your writing.