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OCLS Tutorials: Doctor of Ministry Research Project Guide








Welcome to the Doctor of Ministry (DMIN) Research Project Guide! 


To navigate to the different sections use the tabs above. 


You can bookmark this page for quick access.



Getting Started


The Research Paper Process: Step-by-Step

Forming a Research Question

An Open-Ended Thoughtful Question Drives Good Research

Examples of Keyword and Subject Searches

Save Yourself Time. Schedule a Research Appointment with an OCLS Librarian

Resources (Researching, Writing, and Defending Your Research Project)




Why Use Reference Books?

Reference Databases 


Religion Data & Statistics


Governmental Data

Research-Based Organizations and Think-Tanks




Why Search for Ministry Projects and Dissertations?

Ministry Project and Dissertation Databases


APA Style


Link to the OCLS APA Style Guide

Link to the OCLS Academic Writer Guide


Chicago Style


Link to the OCLS Chicago Style Guide


Research Help


How to contact OCLS for research help.




DMIN Advisor Resources

Books and Journal Articles





The Research Paper Process: Step by Step


1. Develop your Research Question.  You may want to think about:

What research is and what research is not and the kind of research paper you will write.
Ways you can choose a topic for your research paper.
Your paper's audience: Who you are writing to and why you are writing to them.
Whether or not you understand the assignment.

2. Decide what type of information you will use in your research.  

Will you need print or e-books?
Academic Journal articles?
Magazine or Newspaper articles?

Web sites or other multimedia?

3. Determine the kinds information you will need.  

Are you looking for current or past (historical) information?  
Will you need Primary Sources or Secondary Sources?  
Should you use Popular, Trade, or Scholarly Journals?
How will you evaluate the information you find for accuracy, audience, bias, or purpose? 

4. Start the process of writing your paper. 

Pre-Writing: Get your paper off to a good start.
Think about the entire Writing Process.

Write your Thesis Statement.
Develop an Outline.
Start your First Draft.
Proofread your First Draft.
Revise your Draft using the Revising Process.
Proofread and Revise again.

5. Avoid Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism by citing and referencing the sources you use.  

Academic papers need to be align with your required writing and citation style, APA Style, or Chicago Manual of Style.

The Chicago Style Guide includes helpful information, example citations and references, and step-by-step directions for working with Chicago Style format.

The APA Style Guide includes helpful information, example citations and references, and step-by-step directions for working with APA Style format and a paper template. 

The Academic Writer Guide includes helpful information on getting started and using APA Academic Writer.




Forming a Research Question





An Open-Ended Thoughtful Question Drives Good Research


Good research explores a question without an easy answer. Narrowing a topic to a primary question will get your research off to the right start.
Questions require answers.
A topic is too broad to cover thoroughly, but a question has an answer.



The Influence of Drugs on Crime

Could the legalization of less harmful drugs like marijuana reduce crime in the U.S.?


Are laws requiring waiting, counseling or sonograms effective in reducing abortions?

Sports Injuries

Why do heat exhaustion deaths occur and how can they best be avoided? 

Working Women

In what fields have women achieved the greatest equality and through what means?

A question is a way of evaluating the evidence. 
A clearly stated question helps you decide what information is needed in your paper and what is not relevant.
An open-ended question calls for real research and thinking.
A question with no easy answer makes research and writing more meaningful to both you and your audience. Your research may then solve a problem or contribute to the field of knowledge.



Examples of Keyword and Subject Searches


Click Here for examples of keyword and subject searches for the following research questions:

  • What effect does divorce have on children?
  • What effect does birth order have on academic achievement?
  • Are children who play video games more likely to be violent?



Save Yourself Time. Schedule a Research Appointment with an OCLS Librarian!


Make a Research Appointment with an OCLS Librarian.  
Options include In-Person (Face to Face), phone appointments, and Zoom calls. 
For more information, call Off Campus Library Services at 1-800-521-1848






Reference Resources


Why Use Reference Books?

Reference Databases




Why Use Reference Books?


Start your research by scanning a reference book to generate ideas about how to narrow or search for your topic.

You'll find keywords and related topics for your search strategy. You might even create an initial outline.

Reference articles usually offer additional resources in a bibliography you can use to track down more info.



Reference Databases


Use the links below to access these reference databases.


Links with a IWU Logo require an IWU login. Other links may require you to create a separate account to access the material.


CREDO Reference  IWU login required. Usable by IWU students, staff and faculty only.

A database of 600 reference books and encyclopedias, as well as hundreds of topic summaries with links to further resources.


Gale Virtual Reference Library  IWU login required. Usable by IWU students, staff and faculty only.

A database of electronic encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research. The eBooks are trusted and authoritative and fully searchable online.


HathiTrust Digital Library Open Access

A repository with over ten million public domain books and journals digitized through a cooperative university project. Books are searchable by title, author, subject, keyword, or full text.


Oxford Biblical Studies Online  IWU login required. Usable by IWU students, staff and faculty only.

Provides a wealth of Bible text and commentary, including the New Oxford Annotated Bible and five other Oxford Study Bibles. The Bible content is supplemented by major apocryphal Old and New Testament texts in translation, as well as 5,000 A-Z entries from the Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Oxford Companion to the Bible, and many other Oxford reference works.


Oxford  Reference Online  IWU login required. Usable by IWU students, staff and faculty only.

A core foundation of 135+ academic subject, language, and quotations dictionaries providing carefully vetted and trusted short-entry content.


Project Gutenberg Open Access

A database of over 40,000 electronic books and texts, including historically important documents and classic authors such as Shakespeare and Dickens. Offers editions for on-screen reading or download.





Religion Data & Statistics 


Governmental Data

Research-Based Organizations and Think-Tanks





Governmental Data


Statistical Abstracts of the United States  Open Access

The Statistical Abstract of the United States, published from 1878 to 2012, is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. It includes religion data such as religious identification, religious bodies, church membership and attendance.


United Nations Data  Open Access

United Nations Data is a new internet-based data service for the global user community. It brings UN statistical databases within easy reach of users through a single entry point. Users can now search and download a variety of statistical resources of the UN system.



Research-Based Organizations and Think-Tanks


The Association of Religion Data Archives  Open Access

The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) strives to democratize access to the best data on religion. Founded as the American Religion Data Archive in 1997 and going online in 1998, the initial archive was targeted at researchers interested in American religion. The targeted audience and the data collection have both greatly expanded since 1998, now including American and international collections and developing features for educators, journalists, religious congregations, and researchers. Data included in the ARDA are submitted by the foremost religion scholars and research centers in the world.


Berman Jewish Databank  Open Access

The Berman Jewish Databank at the Jewish Federations of North America acquires, archives and provides open access to quantitative studies and related materials on North American Jews and Jewish communities; promotes the use of its resources by its stakeholders, and encourages transparency in the public release and reporting of research on North American Jewry.


General Social Survey  Open Access

The GSS gathers data on contemporary American society in order to monitor and explain trends and constants in attitudes, behaviors, and attributes. The GSS contains a standard core of demographic, behavioral, and attitudinal questions, plus topics of special interest. Among the topics covered are civil liberties, crime and violence, intergroup tolerance, morality, national spending priorities, psychological well-being, social mobility, and stress and traumatic events. The GSS is considered one of the single best sources for sociological and attitudinal trend data covering the United States.


The National Congregations Study  Open Access

The National Congregations Study surveys a representative sample of America's churches, synagogues, mosques and other local places of worship. Initiated in 1998, and repeated in 2006 and 2012, the NCS is based on in-depth interviews of congregational leaders. The study documents information about worship, programs, staffing, and other characteristics of American congregations. Wave IV of the NCS will happen in 2018.


Pew Research Center - Religion & Public Life  Open Access

The Pew Research Center seek to promote a deeper understanding of issues at the intersection of religion and public affairs in the U.S. and around the world. Through public opinion surveys, demographic studies and other social science research, they examine the religious composition of countries, the influence of religion on politics, the extent of government and social restrictions on religion, and views on abortion, same-sex marriage, stem cell research and many other topics. Their U.S. Religious Landscape Survey is a benchmark for understanding religion in the United States. The Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures research analyzes religious change and its impact on societies around the world.


US Religion Census 1952-2010  Open Access

The U.S. Religion Census offers religious data at the county level. It reports the number of congregations in every U.S. county equivalent for each of 236 faith groups. This is an update of the 1952, 1971, 1980, 1990, and 2000 studies originally done by the National Council of Churches and the Glenmary Research Center. Since 1990, the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) has sponsored the studies.






Why Search for Ministry Projects and Dissertations?


Recently published dissertations and theses offer the most current research. 

If you find a dissertation with a similar topic, you can use the bibliography to inspire your own research.

Reading dissertations gives you a good idea of what a dissertation should look like. 



Ministry Project and Dissertation Databases


Use the links below to access databases where you can find dissertations and theses. If a PDF is not available, it may be possible to get all or part of it through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). 


Links with a IWU Logo require an IWU login. Other links may require you to create a separate account to access the material.


American Doctoral Dissertations Open Access

The newly enhanced database includes more than 172,000 theses and dissertations in total, including 80,000 new citations for theses and dissertations from 1902 to the present. The new citations include a link to access the full text when available.


Open Thesis Open Access

OpenThesis is a free repository of theses, dissertations, and other academic documents, coupled with powerful search, organization, and collaboration tools.


ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global  IWU login required. Usable by IWU students, staff and faculty only.

Contains citations, abstracts, and full-text dissertations from a wide variety of disciplines. 


ProQuest Dissertations & Theses - Indiana Wesleyan University IWU login required. Usable by IWU students, staff and faculty only.

Full-text leadership dissertations from IWU from 1997 - present. 


ProQuest Dissertations & Theses - Open Access Open Access

PQDT Open provides full-text of open access dissertations and theses free of charge. 


Theological Research Exchange Network (TREN)  IWU login required. Usable by IWU students, staff and faculty only.

Tren indexes over 10,000 theological theses/dissertations representing research from as many as 70 different institutions. TREN also makes available conference papers presented at annual meetings of several academic societies including the Evangelical Theological Society, the American Society of Church History, and the Society for Pentecostal Studies. This link brings up the IWU Jackson Library catalog. Tip: To sort items by publication date click on the System Sorted drop-down, select Year-Newest First and click Sort. 


Research in Ministry Open Access

Research in Ministry(RIM) indexes and abstracts projects and theses from over 100 Doctor of Ministry (DMin), Doctor of Missiology (DMiss) and Doctor of Educational Ministry (DEdMin)programs accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).RIM is a searchable database with entries for authors, titles, thesis/project advisors, schools, and ATLA subject headings. Abstracts can be searched by keyword. The database also supports Boolean and proximity searches as well as nested searches and wildcards. Links have also been added to records for schools that also participate in the Theological Research Exchange Network. Please contact OCLS if you would like access to a particular project or thesis. RIM is not a full-text database. 



Searching ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global


This video shows viewers how to search the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database to locate doctoral dissertations. The video demonstrates a search for full text English language church revitalization dissertations. 




Locating TREN Documents in the Jackson Library Catalog


This video shows viewers how to locate TREN (Theological Research Exchange Network) documents in the Jackson Library Catalog. TREN documents include dissertations, theses, and other graduate ministry projects. These resources may be helpful for Wesley Seminary Doctor of Ministry Research Projects.




APA Style and Academic Writer





Chicago Manual of Style





Research Help


Do you need help with a specific research topic?  Contact Off Campus Library Services and request a Personalized Search Plan!


Personalized Search Plans (PSPs) tell you where to go, what to do, and how to do it. Your PSP will suggest the best online database(s) and search term(s) to use. Depending on what kinds of information you need, your PSP might help you to find appropriate print books, e-books, or journal articles.

Each PSP includes step-by-step directions to find trusted sources for your assignments and customized to your needs.


To request your Personalized Search Plan, fill out an Online Request for Services Form and let us know your topic and what kinds of information you need – books, e-books, journal articles, websites; or, if you need peer reviewed or research-based information. 


PSP requests are answered within one (1) business daynot including weekends. Requests that are received by noon on Friday will be answered that same day.  


OCLS provides limited service on Saturday and is closed Sunday and all university holidays and holiday weekends, so we encourage you to ask for your Personalized Search Plan early in your workshop weeks whenever possible.


DMIN Advisor Resources

Links with a IWU Logo require an IWU login. Other links may require you to create a separate account to access the material.



Journal Articles








Journal Articles


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Friday: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm (ET)
Saturday: 9:30 am - 2:00 pm (ET)
Sunday: Closed

Librarians may not be available all open hours, but will answer ASAP.