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Research Guides

Mariology: Define Your Topic

Supporting TH299 and TH401 with Prof. Patricia Sullivan

1. Choose a topic

The first stage in writing a research paper is deciding on a topic. Follow these steps:

  1. Understand the assignment.  What is required???
  2. Do some brainstorming to come up with a general topic that fits into the requirements of the assignment.
  3. Think of the ways you could approach this topic.  It may help to draw a concept map showing various aspects of your topic.  
  4. Try a preliminary search of online reference resources to get some basic info. See the Background Info. tab for places to look for good overview / background information on your topic.  (Wikipedia may be tempting, but it is not necessarily accurate or scholarly.)
  5. Based on what you've read, can the topic be narrowed or broadened???

2. Refine your topic

You may need to adjust the scope of your topic based on how much information you find in the early stages of your research.

If your topic is too broad:

If you find too much information, try focusing on one of the following:

  • a specific period of time
         (present, Civil War era, 20th Century)
  • a specific geographic location
         (city/town, state, world)
  • specific individuals, group, population
         (women, children, ethnic group)
  • a specific aspect of the subject
  • the viewpoint of a specific discipline
         (social, political, economic, religious)

If your topic is too narrow:

If you can't find enough information on which to base a paper, think about how you can expand the scope of your topic. Use the topic narrowing criteria above in reverse; for example, look at a larger group of people, a broader time period, or a wider range of situations.

3. Develop a search strategy

At this point, you should translate your topic into a search strategy that you can apply in the library's online catalog and journal databases:

  • State your topic as a question.
  • Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question.
  • Identify synonyms and other related words.

Put these keywords and synonyms into a chart like the one below:

Keywords that
express your
Similar terms for
the keywords in Column One

Example Topic:
Did Our Lady of Fatima apparitions have any effect on conversions to the Catholic faith?

Example Search strategy:
(Fatima OR Fátima) AND (Apparition OR Miracle OR Mary) AND (Converts OR Converted OR Conversions) AND Catholic

4. Begin Formulating What THESIS You Will Argue for or Shed Light On

Your thesis statement will give the focus of your paper in one or two sentences. It will convey your paper's purpose and also suggest your goals in relation to the topic(s).  So...your thesis statement both tells your reader what the paper is about and helps guide your writing so your arguments or explanations progress and stay on track.

If you have doubts about you paper's intended Thesis, it is always a good idea to consult your Professor.

Mariology Keywords / Concepts

(highlight those of interest to YOU)

Acts of Reparation
Ad Caeli Reginam
Ad Diem Illum
Annunciation (Mar 25)
Assumption of Mary
Bis Saeculari
Bridge Between Islam and Christianity
causa salutis
Cause of our Salvation
Centers for Mariological studies
Christian Culture
Classical Marian Excerpts
Common figures in Islam-Christianity-Judaism
Consecration to Mary
Council of Ephesus
Deiparae Virginis Mariae
Divine Feminine
Dogmas and Doctrines
Dogmatic teachings
Dormition of Mary
Eastern Catholic differences
Eastern Orthodox
Expressions of Marian devotion
Fifth Marian Dogma
Finding in the Temple 
First Fridays of Mary
First Saturdays of Mary

Flight into Egypt 
Fulgens Corona
Full of Grace
General Marian Devotions
Gratia plena
Hearts of Jesus & Mary
History and development
History of Mariology
Holy Mary
Holy Virgin
Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Heart
Impact on the Catholic Church
Ineffabilis Deus
Influence of apparitions
Ingruentium Malorum
Intercession of the saints
Irenaeus of Lyons
Key Marian apparitions
Key Marian Feast Days

Lady of All Nations apparitions
Laus, our Lady of
Legion of Mary
Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Luke 1:28
Luke 1:30-34
Lutheran view of Mary (or other denominations)
Marialis Cultus
Marian apologetics
Marian apparitions
Marian Consecration
Marian doctrines

Marian feasts
Marian hymns

Marian perspectives
Marian societies
Mariology and Christology
Mariology and Josephology
Mariology as theology of the people
Mariology of the popes
Mariology of the saints
Mary as Mediatrix
Mary centered Church music
Mary in Islam
Mary is Mother of all Christians
Mary the Blessed Mother of Islam
Mary-19th Sura (Koran of Islam)
Mediatrix of All Graces
Meter Theou
Miracle at Cana
Miraculous Medal
Miraculous Medal Apparitions
Most Blessed
Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mother of God (Jan 1st Feast day)
Munificentissimus Deus
Papal Apostolic Letters and other teachings
Papal Bulls
Papal encyclicals
Papal Marian Documents & Excerpts
Papal teachings on the Blessed Virgin Mary
Perpetual virginity of Mary
Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
Presentation of Mary in the Temple
Protestant views on Mary
Queenship of Mary
Redemptoris Mater
Reparations to the Virgin Mary
Roman Catholic
Rosarium Virginis Mariae
Saint Juan Diego
Saint Joseph
Saint Mary

Sancta Maria
semper virgo
Seven Joys
Seven Sorrows
Sura 19:14-21 (Koran)
The Blessed Virgin Mary
The Madonna
The multitude of perspectives
The Virgin
The Virgin Mary
tota Sancta
Traditional views
Veneration of the Blessed Virgin
Virgin Birth of Jesus
Virgin Mary and feminism
Virgin Mary of Islam

virginitas in partu
Virgo Parthenos
Votive Masses
Wisconsin apparitions

Names & Titles Attributed to Mary

(highlight those of interest to YOU)

Advocata Evæ
Advocate of Eve
Ark of the Covenant
Causa salutis
Cause of Our Joy
Cause of our Salvation
Comforter of the Afflicted
Dei genetrix
Destroyer of Heresy
Empress of the World
Full of Grace
Gate of Heaven
Gratia plena
Health of the Sick
Help of Christians
Holy Mary
Holy Mother of God
Holy Virgin
Holy Virgin of Virgins
Hope of All Nations
House of Gold
Immaculate Mary
Joy of the Just
Mary Untier of Knots
Mary, Favoured Daughter of the Father
Mary, Most Holy
Mary, Queen of All Saints
Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit
Mater Dei
Meter Theou
Mirror of Justice
Morning Star
Most Blessed
Most Pure
Mother Inviolate
Mother Mary
Mother Most Admirable
Mother Most Amiable
Mother Most Chaste
Mother Most Pure
Mother of Christ
Mother of Divine Grace
Mother of God
Mother of Good Counsel
Mother of Orphans
Mother of Our Creator
Mother of Our Redeemer
Mother of Perpetual Help
Mother of Sorrows
Mother of the Church
Mother of the Poor
Mother of the Son
Mother of the World
Mother Thrice Admirable
Mother Undefiled
Mystical Rose
Notre Dame
Nova Eva (the New Eve)
Nyina wa Jambo
Our Lady
Our Lady of America Apparitions
Our Lady of Akita
Our Lady of Banneux
Our Lady of Confidence
Our Lady of Czestochowa
Our Lady of Divine Providence
Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Good Counsel
Our Lady of Good Help
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Kazan
Our Lady of Knock
Our Lady of La Salette
Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Our Lady of Quito
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of the Rosary
Our Lady Undoer of Knots
Our Lady of Victory
Our Lady of Wisdom
Our Lady of Zeitoun
Queen Conceived Without Original Sin
Queen of All Saints
Queen of Angels
Queen of Apostles
Queen of Confessors
Queen of Heaven
Queen of Martyrs
Queen of Patriarchs
Queen of Peace
Queen of Prophets
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary
Queen of Virgins
Ravisher of Hearts
Refuge of Sinners
Regina Caeli
Regina Coeli
Saint Mary
Sancta Maria
Seat of Wisdom
Sedes sapientiae
semper virgo
Singular Vessel of Devotion
Spiritual Vessel
Star of the Sea
stella maris
Tabernacle of the Lord
Temple of the Most Holy Trinity
The Blessed Mother
The Blessed Virgin Mary
The Immaculate Heart
The Madonna
The New Eve
The Virgin
The Virgin Mary
tota Sancta
Tower of David
Tower of Ivory
Treasure House of God's Graces
Vessel of Honor
Virgin Most Faithful
Virgin Most Merciful
Virgin Most Powerful
Virgin Most Prudent
Virgin Most Renowned
Virgin Most Venerable
Virgin of Virgins
Virgo Parthenos

Credits for these lists

In appreciation...  These list of Topics and Titles are adapted from and inspired by the work of Librarian Curtis Le May, Director and Theological Librarian at the University of St. Thomas Libraries, Saint Paul, Minnesota.