Welcome to AIIAS Academic Writing Center


AIIAS Writing Center provides exclusive services for AIIAS students with the  ultimate goal of raising their writing skills. Click below to access writing resources.

APA Style

The Graduate School and Applied Theology Department follow APA Style in their research and writing requirements. Click below to access APA style resources.

Theses &

AIIAS standards for Theses & Dissertations take precedence over any other writing and formatting style. Click below to access AIIAS standards for Theses & Dissertations.


“Thou shalt not steal” Exodus 20:15 (KJV). AIIAS Academic Policy takes a stand against Plagiarism. Click below for resources on working ethically with multiple sources.

Writing Resources

Here are some general guidelines on finding and selecting higher quality work for your research:

  1. Choose more recent sources (unless your study is for historical purposes),
  2. Choose refereed sources over those which are personally produced,
  3. Prefer primary studies to secondary ones,
  4. Choose recent journals over books (especially textbooks) as they are newer and contain primary data,
  5. Choose sources that cite others rather than those without any references or footnotes,
  6. Prefer academic, exploratory writing over hard-sell sources trying to convince you or sell you something,
  7. Look for data included in text that supports the conclusions drawn,
  8. Consider the author’s credentials – choose a professor rather than a student,
  9. Prefer academic sources over popular ones – choose a journal article over a Time or Newsweek article.
  1. Active Verbs: Use the active rather than passive voice: e.g., Passive: A study was conducted by Johnson (2004). Active: Johnson (2004) conducted a study.
  2. Maintaining Tense: Generally, one should maintain the tense unless there is a good reason to change it. Choose a tense and stick with it for at least an entire paragraph. Do not alternate between past and present unless there is a specific reason to do so. Exceptions to this rule are common, but they are exceptions. 
  3. Reporting Results: Research results of a specific study (including yours) are reported in the past: e.g., “Jones determined that . . .” “Table 5 shows that most people liked oranges.” The discussion that interprets data presented, extending the results beyond the sample and identifying principles, however, is usually in the present tense: e.g., “Jones (1963) found that children do not like interacting with hostile parents.” 
  4. Reporting Ideas: Ideas are often considered living, or timeless, and therefore are referred to in the present tense: e.g., “Collins suggests that . . .” For that reason present tense is often used when discussing ideas, or generally accepted facts in the literature review. This is not always the case, however. Sometimes the idea has been replaced by something else, or the researcher has at some point changed opinions. If you discuss an idea that is dated, there is a need to use past tense: e.g., “In 1885 Baker concluded that . . .” Present, present perfect, or past tense are all possible for discussing ideas, depending on situation, and the sense that the writer wishes to convey. 
  5. Keeping the Historical Perspective: When you are writing, keep in mind your reader who will be reading your work in the future. For example, if you write “Today’s educators promote . . . ,” consider how your statement may be understood in the year 2050. It is better to clarify such a statement with “Educators in 2009 promote . . .”. Consider carefully the historical perspective of your subject, especially in the literature review. Comparisons, agreements, or disagreements should be thought out very carefully. For example, it would be misleading to say that Brown, who died in 1920, disagreed with Smith, who wrote in 1965. It would be permissible, however, for Smith, in 1965, to express an opinion that disagrees with what Brown wrote in 1915. Also, because of the disparity of the dates, Brown and Smith can hardly concur with one another. It would be possible for Smith to concur with Brown’s opinion, however.

Summarizing: cannot take place without calling to mind the facts and details in a reading report or discussion. It is stating in a few words the key concepts or main ideas of that discussion. When writing, it always involves the skill of paraphrasing, which is to rephrase the author’s original words without losing the author’s original idea. A good summary will recognize the original author, present the content in fewer words and maintain objectivity. Here, the writer displays the learning levels of remembering and comprehending.


Analyzing: is a process that results in better explanations or even creative interpretations. It involves separating the whole into parts to display its structure, to reveal the relationship of each part to the other parts, and the relationship of each part to the whole. Analysis provides a room for opinion and critique when interpreting the author’s content in their isolated parts. When writing an analysis, one takes the time and effort to expose the structure and the substance of each of the underlying material that give strength to the structure.


Synthesizing: is the skill of identifying and bringing together a variety of perspectives within a subject area with commonalities to form a new viable picture. It involves building a new structure and is the process of generating new knowledge. Here the skilled writer blends different ideas with common threads into a new single idea. Synthesizing happens when two or more studies that are related by the broad subject matter or their immediate context are connected for their extent of harmonies. Literature reviews are good examples of extensive synthesis of scholarly works put together to enable one to see the missing gap in research.


Evaluating: is done by taking a stand or employing the writer’s voice. It involves making value judgments based on internal and external criteria. The internal criteria are the writer’s own interest, or expertise, while the external criteria, judges by sources of information availability, relevance, research ability, novelty, importance or urgency, and other factors. Evaluating seeks to respond to the question: how valuable is the content based on the writer’s own understanding and based on a set of external criteria that has been pre-established for decision-making?

Comparing and contrasting quotes is necessary to make connections between the studies you are looking at.

After you have carefully gleaned out the information you require from each of the studies to produce a literature matrix, you need a tool to make connections between the studies. This is a way of comparing each study against each other, to reveal how they agree, disagree, or give new knowledge. For this purpose, you may use a comparison worksheet on Excel. This is done by labeling each of the study – A, B, C, … AA, AB, etc. and then using a worksheet to compare and contrast your major findings against each other. 

Organize your notes from research into a simple outline and here is an age-old format you simply cannot go wrong with:


A. Introduction:

      a. Main Idea.

            i. Make quick reference to Supporting Ideas 1, 2, and 3.

B. Body:

      a. Relate Main Idea and Supporting Idea 1.

            i. Refer to Supporting Evidence for Supporting Idea 1.

      b. Relate Main Idea and Supporting Idea 2.

            i. Refer to Supporting Evidence for Supporting Idea 2.

      c. Relate Main Idea and Supporting Idea 3.

            i. Refer to Supporting Evidence for Supporting Idea 3.

C. Conclusion:

      a. Reiterate the Main Idea.

            i. Remind Supporting Ideas that Strengthen the Case.

The title can be a working title as you create an outline. The introduction must carry the main idea of the source material. What was the purpose of the source material? Try to jot that down in just a phrase or a simple sentence into your outline. You then give opportunity to transition from introduction to the body of the text via mention of the supporting ideas that give strength to the main idea. These are not your own content but are entirely gleaned out of your source material. Again, jot these down in your outline using a simple phrase or sentence. Your body of the text is an elaboration of each of the supporting ideas you have mentioned with reference to a supporting evidence for each of the ideas that you have gathered from the original source material. Jot these down into your outline.

Once you have a workable outline you are ready to begin writing. This is when you coin together the broad ideas into a condensed format without giving the details.

Once you have got an outline, writing structurally can become more fluid and easier to do. Building on each of the points of the outline into a paragraph can be a goal that you then seek out. Now, even though I recommend a set pattern for writing paragraphs, it is only a method to guide your thoughts further into writing more collectedly, that is, this pattern is not dogmatic in any sense. Writers, many a times, break these rules, and yet, get away with it. However, if religiously followed, the recommended style of writing here can make reading your work more logical with well-planned transitions.

So, how does it work? Simply as follows:

First sentence is the topic sentence. It introduces what the paragraph will discuss at large. This is usually, one main idea. It is followed by evidence statement/s. Here, a single statement or a plethora of statements could be used to support the topic sentence. Evidence statements ought to be well cited with in-text references. Next, comes the evaluative voice of the writer. This is where a synthesis of the evidence presented is taken together or collectively and restated within the perspective of the author. Finally, the conclusion links back to the topic sentence but is also a transitioning tool.

The introduction must establish the mode of transition throughout the essay or paper. If I were to write an essay on the American bald eagles using the outline shown in Table 1, my introduction will conclude with what is coming up next, that is, over the body of the essay. Conclusion must link back to the first sentence also called topic sentence. I may say something like: “Nature preserves some ideals of Edenic family values through at least one species of fascinating birds, that lead a monogamous life and makes an investment of time and effort in building a comfortable home for its immediate family”. The body of the essay will then elaborate the two points I am trying to make, into two separate paragraphs.

Table 1.


              The American bald eagles commit to a “till death do us part”!


1.       Introduction – The American bald eagle is an object lesson for today’s family.

  a.       Fast facts: 

   i. Description of its features: White head, dark brown body and a yellow beak.

   ii. Size: a massive wingspread that can reach 7 feet, and also up to 4 feet tall. 

   iii. Bird of prey: carnivorous diet.

  b.       Main points to be elaborated: It is a monogamous bird and makes an investment of time and effort in building its home.

2.       Body A – Monogamy.

  a.       “Till death do us part”.

   i. Other birds & animals reflect such long-term relationships.

   ii. Quick facts: vultures, owls, geese, swans, wolves, French angelfish… stick to their partners.

     iii. Fascinating mating ritual of the bald eye eagles.

  b.       More monogamous than humans.

   i. Birds and animals who are monogamous are less likely to cheat on their spouses than humans.

     ii. Human statistics on affairs and divorces.

3.       Body B – Building a home to live out their lives.

  a.       Time and effort invested.

   i. Bald eagle habitat: North America.

   ii. Biggest bald eagle habitat discovered in Florida: 9.5 feet diameter and 20 feet deep, weighing 2 metric tons.

4.       Conclusion – These are fascinating birds.

  a.       They offer us some moral object lessons.

   i. God’s 7th commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery”.

     ii. We ought to invest time and effort in building up our marriages and raising our children.


And so, my introduction, following through with some of the writing principles introduced above, may look as basic as below:

The American bald eagle is an object lesson for today’s family. The birds bear a unique name due to their dark brown colored bodies which are differentiated from their white heads, which can in some light make them look bald (Eagles.org). These are beautiful creatures that come in sizable proportions, with wingspreads that may reach approximately seven feet and also gain up to 4 feet in height (LiveScience.com). According to NatGEO TV (July 31, 2019) broadcast, these remarkable birds are carnivorous and are largely fish eaters. These facts are impressive, but they are incomparable to the reality of their human-like properties. Nature preserves some ideals of Edenic family values through at least one species of fascinating birds, that lead a monogamous life and makes an investment of time and effort in building a comfortable home for its immediate family.

Paraphrasing is a must-have skill for writing research and other academic papers. Often, research and academic papers require you to build up your case on a topic, or provide background information, which is done by referring to researchers and experts who have already published in the field and on the given topic area. Here you are likely to be confronted with the dilemma, “Should I quote or paraphrase?”.

Ideally, you should not overly quote a resource unless it conveys everything you want to say in a few words. Quoting a resource is valid:

  • if the quotation is from an authority on the subject area, or
  • if the words are much clearer and expressive than you could yourself produce, or
  • if the words are technical/ industry/ medical etc. terminologies.

When you do quote, remember to name the source, use quotation marks if it is under 40 words or indent the passage if it is over 40 words, and cite the resource using the appropriate in-text and end of paper reference list formats. However, in most cases, you are more likely to paraphrase than quote. Paraphrasing is the process of restating someone’s words in your own words without losing the original thought. So how do you do it?

First, let’s look at an incorrect method of paraphrasing. The following example results in plagiarism rather than an acceptable paraphrase:

Original text


Incorrect paraphrase

This study examines the definition of theory and the implications it has for the theory-building research. By definition, theory must have four basic criteria: conceptual definitions, domain limitations, relationship-building, and predictions.

Source: Wacker, J. G. (1998). A definition of theory: research guidelines for different theory-building research methods in operations management. Journal of Operations Management, 16, 361–385. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ article/pii/S0272696398000199

Wacker (1998) in his study looks at the proper definition of theory which must include the four basic criteria: conceptual definitions, domain limitations, relationship-building, and predictions.


Why is this plagiarism?

1.     Even though the writer has given credit to the actual source and has not lost the author’s original thought, much of the writing language is borrowed directly from the original text and there are no quotation marks (Notice the bolded words above).

2.     The writer has taken three or more words in a row from the original text.

3.     All the writer has done is used linking words to connect the two sentences.

Okay, so how is it done? Here are a few strategies that can simplify the paraphrasing process:

  1. Always give credit to the original source.
  2. Apply synonyms wherever needed but keep the keywords intact.
  3. Rewrite in a different sentence structure.
  4. Employ active voice or passive voice to sound different from the original.
  5. Use phrases or alter the parts of speech to bring in the variation.

Notice below how the paraphrase for the above passage could have been written:

Original text


An acceptable paraphrase

This study examines the definition of theory and the implications it has for the theory-building research. By definition, theory must have four basic criteria: conceptual definitions, domain limitations, relationship-building, and predictions.

Source: Wacker, J. G. (1998). A definition of theory: research guidelines for different theory-building research methods in operations management. Journal of Operations Management, 16, 361–385. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ article/pii/S0272696398000199

In seeking to share the broad perspective and guidelines on theory-building research, Wacker (1998) offers a four phased definitional framework from previous academic literature on what a theory is. It must be understood conceptually, disclose its boundaries, reveal its relationships, and make reliable predictions (Wacker, 1998, p. 363).

Alternatively, the second statement could have kept the author’s original words by stating:

He summarizes that it must include “conceptual definitions, domain limitations, relationship-building, and predictions” (Wacker, 1998, p. 363).

What makes this an acceptable paraphrase?

1.     Cited the original source.

2.     Maintained the author’s original thought.

3.     Kept the keywords intact.

4.     Changed the sentence structure.

5.     Used passive voice.

6.     Attempted to use phrases.

7.     Changed parts of speech.

The magic with paraphrase is that while you are in fact referring to a published source, if you do it right, your finished product can fit into the domain of an original work. Paraphrasing can look quite taxing at first, but this is a skill that writers can improve over time. It needs practice and the more you do it, the better you get at it. So, keep writing, keep paraphrasing.


MIT.edu. (N.D.). Avoiding plagiarism – paraphrasing. Academic Integrity at MIT: A Handbook for      Students. Retrieved from https://integrity.mit.edu/handbook/academic-writing/avoiding- plagiarism-paraphrasing

APA Style Resources

Margins. For theses and dissertations, the left-hand margin must be 1.5 inches. All other margins must be 1.0 inch (the page number can be slightly below this—see page numbers, below). For term papers, margins are 1.0 inch on all sides. 


Justification. Use a left justified, ragged right margin rather than a justified margin. 


Font. A proportional, serif font is required for research like Times New Roman. Proportional means that a narrow letter like l takes up less space on a line than a wider letter, like m. Serif means that the letters have little lines added, like at the base and the top of the N or the bottom of the p. While not helpful for projection, these lines make printed text easier to read. 


Page numbers. All pages are numbered at the bottom center of the page, approximately 0.75 inch from the bottom edge of the paper. Placement of numbers must be consistent. Pages that have landscape material have the page number in the same position and direction as all other pages. Pages in the appendix that already carry numbers, such as tests or instruments, are also numbered in accordance with the paging of your paper, but this number is placed just inside the margin in the bottom right-hand corner, within square brackets. 


Line spacing. Research text is double spaced, and indented five spaces (0.5 inch) at the beginning of each paragraph, with no additional space between paragraphs. Numbered lists and tables can be single spaced if it improves readability. Further details relating to spacing are found in Chapter 8. 


Block quotations. A block quotation is a direct quote of five or more lines (Turabian) or 40 or more words (APA). Block quotations are single spaced (Turabian) or double spaced (APA). Block quotations are indented 0.5 inch from the left, the same as the first lines of paragraphs. Indent the first line 0.5 inch further if more than one paragraph. No blank line is added before or after (or between paragraphs of) a block quotation. Block quotations do not carry quotation marks before and after the quotation. If there are materials in double quotation marks in the original, put them in single quotation marks to show they were quoted in the original. If the quotation is in the middle of a paragraph, do not indent the first line of the text following the block quotation.

Headings. A heading should not be longer than half the page width (or 3 inches). If it cannot be trimmed, the heading should be divided at a logical grammatical point into two or more lines of similar proportions. An inverted pyramid shape should be attained.


Word division. In general, words at the ends of lines should be divided only when absolutely necessary, and then according to syllabication as shown in the dictionary.


Widows/orphans. The first or last line of a paragraph should not appear alone at the bottom or top of a page (widow/orphan). A subheading at the bottom of a page must have at least two lines of text below it, otherwise, the subheading should begin at the top of the next page. You may allow more than 1.0 inch at the bottom of a page in order to avoid “widow” and “orphan” lines.

Parallel construction. Use parallel grammatical construction for items in a list. Punctuation. In an enumeration within a sentence, use a comma to separate items unless items in the list contain commas; in that case, use semicolons. An identifying element (letter or number) should always be on the same line as the item. 


Bullets. Numbers are commonly used for vertical lists, but if you wish to avoid the appearance of order in a truly unranked list, using bullet points is acceptable to most professors. 



Numbering format. To identify enumerated items in separate paragraphs, use arabic numbers followed by a period (if enumeration is part of a direct quotation, the original identifying element should be used); the numbers should be indented one tab position (or 0.5 inch) and run-over lines aligned with the first word (hanging indentation). The periods after numerals must be aligned. To identify enumerated items within a paragraph, use arabic numerals enclosed in parentheses (lowercase letters may be used, but numbering format must be consistent). If the items are complete sentences, capitalize the first letter and end each item with a period. 



Spacing. Enumerations in separate paragraphs, just like the body text, are usually double-spaced; they may be single spaced, if this would enhance readability, but aim for consistency.

Write out small numbers. The general rule is to use figures to express numbers 10 and above (APA) or 20 and above (Turabian). Use words to express numbers smaller than these (there are exceptions). 


Figures. Use figures for exact numbers for time (8:15) and measurements of time (3 days), dates (May 14), ages (2-year-olds), weights or measures (2.5 kilos, 5 cm), mathematical/ statistical functions (divided by 6, 5 times as many), and items in a numbered series (Level 2, Grade 5). Also, use numerals in the abstract of a paper, in tables, and in parentheses. For decades or other plurals, the correct form does not require an apostrophe (1970s, 10s, fifteens, sixes). 


Words. Use words for estimates of time (about four months ago), common fractions (one fourth), and any number that begins a sentence, title, or heading. 


Statistics and Metrication. Statistics can be presented in text, in tables, and in figures. A general rule is that if you have three or fewer numbers, use a sentence; if you have from 4 to 20 numbers, use a table; and if you
have more than 20 numbers, consider using a graph or figure rather than a table.
– Do not give a reference or a formula for statistics in common use.
– In tables and parenthetical elements, use a capital, italicized N to specify the number of members in a total sample; use lowercase, italicized n to specify the number of members in a limited portion of the total sample. Do not use the statistical symbol of the term in the text; use the spelled-out form.
– Use lowercase Greek letters (not italicized) to represent population statistics; use italicized Latin to express sample statistics.
– Use the percent symbol (%) only when preceded by a number (APA) or in tables. For Turabian, write out the word unless it is in a table or in parentheses.

Acronyms should be used sparingly. Do not switch between an abbreviation and the spelled-out form. 

Introducing an abbreviation. Explain the term on its first appearance, with the acronym/ abbreviation in parentheses. Do not introduce an abbreviation if it will not be used at least three times. Add the abbreviation to the list at the beginning of the paper. An exception to this rule would be biblical books, which should follow the list in Table 2, and statistical symbols. 

Plural forms. To form the plural of an abbreviation, add s without an apostrophe (SDs, vols.). 

Latin abbreviations. The abbreviations etc., e.g., i.e., viz., and vs. may be used inside parenthetical information or in footnotes or in tables/figures, but not in the text. Ibid. is not used at all in APA style, but is common in Turabian. Et al. is acceptable for use in parentheses or in text. Note that e.g., i.e., and viz. are followed by a comma, and et al. is followed by a period. 

Restrictions. Never begin a sentence with a lowercase abbreviation, statistical symbol, or a numeral. Never use abbreviations in headings/main titles or as entries in a bibliography/reference list. Never abbreviate the term “United States” when it is used as a noun. 

Abbreviations without punctuation. State names, books of the Bible, statistical symbols, academic degrees (MA, PhD), and all caps abbreviations (AD, BCE) do not require punctuation after them. Titles (Mr., Dr., etc.) do, and most other abbreviations do, as well.

Abbreviating state names. Use the two-letter postal abbreviations (no periods) for U.S. state names in reference/ bibliography entries (for a complete list of the correct abbreviations, see Table 1). If the state name is part of the text, write the whole word.

State Abbreviations for the United States. In footnotes and reference lists/bibliographies, the names of the states in the United States are always abbreviated. Table 1 below contains the two-letter abbreviations for each state. 

Table 1.


Alabama AL

Alaska AK

American Samoa AS

Arizona AZ

Arkansas AR

California CA

Canal Zone CZ

Colorado CO

Connecticut CT

Delaware DE

District of Columbia DC

Florida FL

Georgia GA

Guam GU

Hawaii HI

Idaho ID

Illinois IL

Indiana IN

Iowa IA

Kansas KS

Kentucky KY

Louisiana LA

Maine ME

Maryland MD

Massachusetts MA

Michigan MI

Minnesota MN

Mississippi MS

Missouri MO

Montana MT

Nebraska NE

Nevada NV

New Hampshire NH

New Jersey NJ

New Mexico NM

New York NY

North Carolina NC

North Dakota ND

Ohio OH

Oklahoma OK

Oregon OR

Pennsylvania PA

Puerto Rico PR

Rhode Island RI

South Carolina SC

South Dakota SD

Tennessee TN

Texas TX
Utah UT

Vermont VT

Virginia VA

Virgin Islands VI

Washington WA

West Virginia WV

Wisconsin WI

Wyoming WY

Biblical Book Abbreviations. Both the Seminary and the Graduate School should use the biblical book abbreviations found in Table 2. They are written with no periods. Abbreviations are used when specific chapter or
chapter-and-verse references are given, not when the Bible book name alone is used. Do not use these abbreviations to begin a sentence, or within a title.

Table 2.









1 Sam

2 Sam

1 Kgs

2 Kgs

1 Chr

2 Chr





Ps (Pss)



























1 Cor

2 Cor





1 Thess

2 Thess

1 Tim

2 Tim





1 Pet

2 Pet

1 John

2 John

3 John



As an AIIAS student, I would like to receive assistance from the Writing Center.