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Kalamazoo College
Convocation-004

The Senior Individualized Project

Types of SIPs in Religion

Doing a SIP in Religion offers students the important opportunity to conduct independent and significant research into a question or topic of vital interest to you. The most common SIP in Religion is primary research into a specific question, author, or particularly influential work. This research consists of the careful reading, interpretation, and critical analysis of a body of literature that you select in consultation with your advisors. Such a research project requires the student to locate the study within the larger study of religions, linking the question the student has chosen to pursue to other related and relevant avenues of inquiry in the field-whether in theology, the study of Biblical literature, or in the history of religions. We call this type of research project "primary research," while recognizing that a great deal of a student's research may also involve secondary sources.

It is also possible, although not strongly recommended, to complete a SIP that involves field research. We have outlined three types below: field research in a particular institution or organization, of a specific event, or in a project of some kind. Research in an organization may be an extended internship of some type, but it can not simply be an internship. Research into a specific event or project is usually funded by grants (either within or outside Kalamazoo College), and is more properly to be considered as traditional fieldwork. To receive approval for a field research SIP that involves interviews as a primary source of data, students should complete "Methods in Anthropological Research" offered by the Sociology and Anthropology Departments; exceptions are considered only if the student is working on a joint faculty-student project with supervision.

Recommended Schedule for Completing a SIP

Summer/Fall: Research in the summer following the junior year, with the write-up in the fall for a two-unit SIP. The SIP is due on the first day of Winter term, without exception. This is the model we require in the department, and we do not sponsor one-unit SIPs.

Proposing a SIP and Completing a SIP Contract

First, submit an initial statement of your interests and questions to your advisors sometime before or during Week 5 of your Junior Spring term. Discuss your questions and concerns with your advisors before turning to the SIP contract itself. Second, submit your responses required for the SIP contract to your advisors by the end of eighth week. Third, revise your SIP contract on the basis of your advisors' recommendations and submit it for signatures by the end of Week Ten of Spring term. When you look at the requirements for the SIP contract, keep in mind that this is a provisional plan, and while we expect you to stick to your outline and schedule of research, we do recognize that your hypothesis and sources are a bit tentative. If your research takes a substantially different track than that proposed in the Contract, please contact one of your advisors immediately to get their advice.  Download the SIP contract from the Related Documents box on the right-hand side of the screen.

What Does a Completed SIP Look Like?

The final SIP in Religion is usually a minimum of 50 pages and (preferably) no longer than 70-80 pages, including bibliography and notes. The critical feature of a SIP in Religion is not length, but acuity of insight and keenness of observation. We expect each SIP to go through at least three and more often four drafts; SIP advisors will read the second draft carefully and offer their feedback at that point. It is expected that students be in consultation with their advisors during the writing process, so that no surprises will be in store for either the advisors or the students by the time the second draft is completed. The final draft, formatted according to the University of Chicago Manual of Style guidelines and according to the guidelines of the Kalamazoo College SIP Handbook, is due on the first day of the term following your write-up quarter. Students should check with advisors by the end of the third week to receive their grades.