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  • Comments on the theme of the first week of class.
  • “ Research” is a basic activity of life for some people, including DMin students. It assumes a question that needs an answer, or on rare occasions, an answer that needs a question. However it is better to begin with one or the other—not both. Otherwise you risk thinking that your answer is the only answer or the best answer. This may be okay in some situations, but not in an academic setting. Why not? One goal of research in doctoral studies is to expand your knowledge and understanding. If you have both the question and the answer when you being your research, you risk learning nothing—a waste of time and money when you are enrolled in a degree program. There are many ways to conduct research. This course assume you will do most of research by reading. When you attend conferences as part of your study, you will do some research by listening to sermons or lectures and by conversing with others, including the speakers you have heard. Whether by reading or listening, you will be asking questions and looking for answers. When you have read or heard enough, you will write to let others know your answers, why you propose that one answer and not others, and the evidence you have found that will support that answer. Taking the next steps in learning this process of research is the purpose for this course. You are walking on carpet, not concrete. If you fall down, you get up. If you need help getting up, others are here to help.
  • As you read about research this week, be sure you understand the difference between topics, problems, and questions. Later you will read about sources, claims, reasons, evidence, acknowledgements, and assumptions. The first three circles can help you understand the first three concepts by linking them to reading. General reading is either everything you read (including, commentaries, reports, fiction, biography, newspapers, blogs, etc.) or just what you read that is not what you read because of work. This type of reading is what keeps you connected with the larger world of ideas. It can be based on the reporting or experiences of others (e.g., news), opinions (e.g., blogs), or imagination (mysteries or poetry). The next circle represents reading in your particular area of interest. While a student, this may be most of what you read, but the scope is narrower—and will become narrower as you get closer to your final project. All of you have a concentration for your studies: world view, leadership, pastoral ministries, etc. This is the first step in narrowing your field. As you read within your concentration, you will become aware of problems or issues within your field. One will attract your interest more than do others (at least for a time—sooner or later you may decide that you are no longer interested in this but in something else). Your reading become even more narrowly focused as you read to find what others are saying about this problem that also interests you. Mostly likely, you will learn background to the problem, whose ideas have had a lasting influence on the discussion of the problem, who is currently discussing the problem, what questions are they asking, and what reasons and evidence are they giving to support their proposed answers. After a time, you will decide to ask your own question or to provide your answer to a question you have identified. Your reading will become even narrower as you examine the evidence and test others’ claims and reasons. At some point you find an answer that you are willing to present as your own. You read less and write more. You re-read what you have read before (or your notes on what you have read before) while trying to remain current with what is being published as you write. Finally, you yourself are published. Others read what you have written, and the cycle continues.
  • Reading is important to research. Over the years, students have come to me at the end of their coursework asking for help or advice on finding “something to write about” for their dissertation. I have asked myself “why?” My tentative answer is only a hunch, and one I will probably not research in the ways outlined in this course. Students come to the end of their coursework without having identified a dissertation topic because they have not understood how reading and research intertwine. They have not been questioning what they have read. They have not been identifying issues as they have read. They have not understood that the reading they do in their course work can prepare them for dissertation research. Do not let this happen to you. Learn what research can be; develop the skills and habits to engage in effective research. You will occasionally stumble and fall, but do not stay down. You are on new phase of your Christian journey. The Spirit is still with you as are your brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.

Transcript

  • 1. Nature of Research D.Min. Graduate Writing Seminar
  • 2. Research as Inquiry
    • Research assumes a question
      • Who, What, When, Where, How, or Why?
      • Alone or in combination.
    • Research assumes an answer
      • Discovering someone else’s answer
      • Discovering your own answer
      • Discovering someone else’s answer for yourself
    • Research is reading and writing
      • Read to find questions and possible answers
      • Write to present to others what you have found
  • 3. Topics, Problems, Questions
    • Role of Reading
    General Reading Reading in “your field” Topical reading to find a question Research reading to answer a question
  • 4. Importance of Reading
    • To understand background of an issue
    • To be able to discuss issues intelligently
    • To recognize underlying presuppositions of those who work with an issue
    • To learn to ask good questions
      • and to recognize good answers
    • To look for gaps in the discussion of the issue
      • Unasked questions
      • Incomplete answers
      • Ineffective implementation
    • To prepare yourself to write about the issue