Three Credits' Worth of Research: The Librarian as Research Advisor for MA Candidates

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James Humble


In addition to the MDiv degree, granted after three years of graduate study, students at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, can complete their requirements for the MA degree in Theology in their fourth and final year by writing a thesis paper. Several years ago, in an effort to ensure that the candidates were performing an acceptable level of research before beginning writing, academic administrators enjoined the librarian to supervise them during the fall semester of that fourth year, when their courseload is lighter. The students now earn three credits for the research they do. Thus, without the framework of regular class meetings, the librarian had not only to advise each student individually on the best sources and research techniques suited to his subject, but to encourage the students to work consistently, without the structural benefits that traditional courses provide, in the hope that the students will produce academically satisfactory work. The author will relate the trial-and-error course he took to bring this enterprise to its current form, and share some of the methods that he uses to keep on top of all the students throughout their research journey.

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