We've all been there. We know (sort of) on what we want to write, but we don't really know how to write it, how to organize our thoughts, or how to organize our research. It's fun to read, but it's another thing to articulate, analyze, and synthesize our thoughts.
Here are some ideas/resources that might help you along the way:
Here is some advice regarding Systematic 1, 2, or 3 class papers specifically:
Your paper should not look like your research. It's feasible that your actual paper will look something like this:
Remember, you are not done until you have edited your paper. Read through it again, editing as you go, and then have someone else read through it so you have another set of eyes looking at what will be the finished product.
It is often the case that when doing theological research, it will be important to examine Primary Sources. A primary source is an author's first-hand account of the event being studied. Examples include: diaries, letters, journals, memos, interviews, manuscripts, newspaper articles of current events, photographs, records of government agencies like birth or death certificates, and minutes of conferences or agencies. Secondary Sources interpret/analyze the event in question.
Here's a clarifying example from the ATLA website: "A letter from a Union soldier to his wife during the Civil War would be considered a primary document. A book written by a historian that discusses letters written by soldiers during the Civil War would be a secondary source, even if it includes those letters we consider primary sources. " The distinction is relevant for researchers because interpretations of primary sources may be incorrect. If you rely only on secondary sources, your own conclusions may be, consequently, skewed.
A primary source would be the original (or definitive) edition of a work. Examples (again from the ATLA site) would include:
A secondary source would be a later, non-definitive edition, a non-definitive translation, or an examination of a particular facet of the primary source. For example, Paul Helm's John Calvin's Ideas is a secondary source because it is an analysis of Calvin's works; Balthasar's The Theology of Karl Barth is a secondary source for the same reason.
If you're unsure what an author's primary works are, you can peruse the Enclopedia of Christian Theology by Lacoste or The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought to get an idea of particular theological thinkers and their primary works. These are helpful, but not comprehensive guides to theological research. If you ever have trouble finding primary literature, contact a research expert at the library or attempt to dialogue with a researcher in your field of interest.