Table of contents
Writing Style
Doctorates completed


In the autumn of 2019 I began moderating students writing their license dissertation or doctoral thesis. This page is intended to help with that process.

The first step is for a student to discern a topic of interest to the student, a topic that the student values and is willing to give time and energy to in researching, analysing and synthesising in a written text. As such, a student’s work is his or her own responsibility and initiative. I remain attentive to the students’ expressed needs and can help students avoid pitfalls, but the initiative rests with the student writing his or her own dissertation or thesis. The student is responsible for the content of the written work, while I as moderator can help guide him or her through the process of research, analysis and synthesising a final written work presented according to the norms of the PIL.

Please leave ample opportunity for the revision of your work, even numerous times before submitting it. Students are encouraged to manage their time well so that they meet the deadlines for submission of work.


I request students not to phone me. Rather, please contact me by email at: danielmccarthyosb AT mac DOT com.

I request that written work be submitted in printed form, rather than in electronic form. I can more easily make notes on the text if the text is double spaced or has at least 1.5 line spacing. When working on the bibliography, please provide a text that is double spaced and with larger font, such as 13 or 14 point font. This will help me make comments.

I prefer to work with students in person. This means that when I am not in Rome either I am not available. It is important to schedule our work so that we may work together in person when I am in Rome..


The student is to write the paper based on his or her findings, interpretation and chosen method of presenting an argument. The paper is to present the student’s own work, not the work of others.

Sometimes a reference to the work of another is warranted to present an authoritative source, such as a statement on the divine-human exchange given by Irenaeus of Lyon or Athanasius. Sometimes another author has presented some ideas with such clarity that they bear repeating, as for example the translations of the prayers published by the instructor. Sometimes the student wishes to present the argument of another as a basis for developing the student’s own argument. Sometimes the student wishes to contrast the writing of another with the student’s own ideas.

When making a direct citation of an another author for the first time, the student is to introduce the author and give the title of the work from which the citation is made. Thereafter the student may refer back to the author. Each direct quotation is followed by a footnote citation. My rule for direct citations is:

If I use three words or more in a row from another author, then I put them in quotation marks, either “…” or « … », and give a footnote citing the source of the text. If the citation is several lines long, then the entire text is indented, and no quotation marks are used, as for example this text is indented. A footnote citation is given at the end of the indented text.

Following the quotation, the student is to state in the student’s own words the elements from the quotation that are important to the student’s own argument. In this way the student will remain in charge of the argument presented in the student’s own paper. Thus, the quotation should be only as long as is necessary for the student to make the points needed for the student’s own argument.

If the student would like to take the work of another author and summarise it in the student’s own words, or to present it in the student’s own words, then, the student is to introduce the original author and source at the beginning. In this case, according to my rule, no three words in a row may be used directly from the original text. Rather, now the student is expressing the ideas in the student’s own words. The student must still give a footnote citation to the text of the original author.


Not citing the work of others correctly is considered plagiarism and, according to the policy of the Registrar (Segreteria), may result in dismissal of the student or the revocation of the student’s diploma.

Sometimes students have quoted long texts from other authors, without introducing the other author or the work and without giving a summary of the elements in the quotation that are important to the student’s own writing. Even if the text is properly quoted and cited in a footnote, the student is not to present the words of another author as if they were the student’s own presentation of the facts without any further critical reflection. This will not do in scientific writing. In short, the student is not to use a quotation of another person’s writing in place of the student’s own thought. Do not let the writing of others do your work for you.

Rather, this is your paper and you are presenting your own argument to the reader. Take charge of your own argument. By distinguishing the writing of other authors, the student will also come to the fore as a distinct voice and contribution.

In short, the student writing a paper is primarily in dialogue with the reader. Sometimes the student may wish to reflect critically on the writing of another author and to present this critical reflection to the reader.

Writing style

I have only begun to make a few notes about writing style, which can perhaps best be assertained from my own publications. I would make an initial comment.

When I use a Latin text in my writing, immediately following the Latin text I include a direct translation, usually my own.

I try my best not to use rounded parentheses ( … ) in prose writing because it is better to use my words to explain myself more fully than to leave my message to the interpretation of parentheses. In light of this, I prefer to use footnotes for references rather than integrating them into the text in rounded parentheses.

Doctorates completed with my moderation

FERNANDO, R., Deus, Auctor pacis et reconciliationis: A Eucharological and liturgico-theological analysis of peace and reconciliation in the Missale Romanum, PhD and STD doctoral dissertation KU Leuven Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, 2018. Read an article here.

Page in development.

© 07 March 2019, Daniel McCarthy