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Human Personhood Research Paper Guidelines
Dr. Dennis Sullivan and Dr. Charles Dolph

Objectives for research papers:

  • To develop your ability to think citically from a theological, philosophical, or scientific perspective.
  • To express and defend your own conclusion based on your research.


This paper should compare and critique two different approaches to human personhood as discussed in this course.The specific choice of topic is your own. Try to choose as narrow a focus as possible, which helps to ensure good depth.


1. All papers must be typed and double-spaced.

2. There must be a minimum of 10 full pages, not counting title page and references.

3. Try not to exceed 12 pages, not counting title page and references.

4. The title page should include the title, student name, and course number (Hon 3140).


1. Please use the APA format for your in-text citations and end notes. CU has an excellent tutorial and reference guide at the Atomic Learning site. For samples of well-written papers in APA format, go to CedarEthics Online (see later comment as well).

2. Each term paper should have a minimum of 10 references, not counting scriptural references or popular-level sources (such as Time Magazine), though such are encouraged to add interest. Beyond the minimum, you may use as many references as you wish. Some of your references will come from the required readings for the course, but you may use your own as well (must be scholarly references).

4. References may include books, journal articles, or online sources. Unlike strictly scientific writing, we will not observe any distinction between “primary” and “secondary” sources.

Grading Criteria

We will use the following criteria to grade each paper:

  1. 40% -- Organization, flow, content
    • Is there a logical development of concepts?
    • Is the tone appropriate to the subject?
    • Does the paper read easily, and flow from one idea to the next?
  2. 40% -- Critical thinking, logic, and appropriate use of references
    • Do you give evidence that you really understand the topic?
    • Did you support your assertions with references?
    • Are your conclusions well reasoned and defensible? By the way, this does NOT necessarily mean that your instructor agrees with you, just that you have used sound reasoning.
  3. 20% -- Grammar and syntax
    • At the very least, we will expect spelling to be correct (hint: use a spell-checker, and look up technical terms).
    • Punctuation and grammar should be correct.
    • Keep your sentences short, but vary the length (improves readability). Paragraphs should have one main idea.
    • You should use the correct format (APA) for references.

Some comments on grammar and style:

  1. Try to avoid use of the passive voice.
    • A certain amount of passive voice is unavoidable.
    • However, extensive use of passive voice hurts the readability and flow of most writing.
    • Examples:
      • This theory was first introduced in 1948 by Dr. Smith (passive).
      • Dr. Smith first introduced this theory in 1948 (active – better).
  2. You may use the third person (impersonal style) or the first person (your opinion, based on reasoning). Avoid use of the second person (we use second person in this writing guide, which is appropriate here).
  3. Your paper is not just a survey of an issue or controversy (although it must include this). You must reach a conclusion as to your own position, and defend it.
  4. If you use abbreviations, always define them first.
  5. Use new paragraphs when you change the subject.
    • Be sure to have a good topic sentence for each paragraph.
    • Multiple short paragraphs are preferable to one long one.
  6. Make sure your sentences are complete – PROOFREAD your paper (have a friend or roommate help)!
  7. Always give a reference for any factual information. Short direct quotes are appropriate. The citation should include the page number ONLY if a direct quotation is used. Avoid excessive use of direct quotes (the paper should represent your own work, primarily in your own words).
  8. Plagiarism will result in a grade of zero (you have been warned).

CedarEthics Online

  1. Some truly outstanding papers may be published in our online bioethics journal (CedarEthics Online).
  2. This is by invitation only, and would involve editorial review.
  3. Hopefully, this will give you some incentive to “aim high” in your writing efforts, and may foster ongoing academic work in philosophy or ethics.

May the Lord bless you as you work on your papers. We are available to help!

Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Dolph


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Page Last Updated 08/20/2013