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How to Write a Capstone Project – All You Will Ever Want to Know

November 13, 2015 - Posted toStudy

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How to Write a Capstone Project

You may do this only once in your life; you may do this three times in your life – for a Bachelor’s, a Master’s, or a Ph.D. But you will do this – a capstone project. If you have not produced such a project before, you are in for some work. But we have made the process easier for you with this guide. Read on!

A Definition

When you reach your final semester or year of a degree program, you may very well have to produce a capstone project. It may be called a thesis or a dissertation, or something else, but it all means the same thing. You will need to take one specific topic area of your coursework and produce an original research work on that topic area.

The other important aspect of a capstone project is that it will involve a research question – one that you devise and that your advisor approves. Your research will be a project that answers that research question.

Choosing a Topic

Choosing an appropriate topic will involve several questions:

  • In what area do you have a strong interest? You don’t want to choose a topic that will be boring for you.
  • What is the length of the project?
  • What is required by your department with respect to a suitable research question, the process, the format, and so forth? You will need to clear your topic with at least your advisor, and, especially in the case of a Ph.D., prepare a formal proposal for your research project, that is accepted by your dissertation committee.
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Steps in the Process

Once your topic has been approved, you will need to follow a very structured process.

  • Review of the Literature: What research has already been done on your research question? You will need to locate and summarize original research that has been conducted on your topic that you can include in your project.
  • What type of research project will you design? Sometimes, with a Bachelor’s capstone project, you will not be asked to do this. Instead, you will need to demonstrate that the research you have conducted has answered your question or proved our hypothesis. At the Master’s and Ph.D. levels, however, you will need to design a research project that will build upon the research already completed by others. You will implement the project and collect your data.
  • You will then need to analyze the data you have collected and determine that your research question has been answered.
  • You will then write up your project, being careful to maintain a scholarly approach and tone/style. Your project must contain a clear introduction in which you introduce your topic and your thesis statement/research question/hypothesis that will be addressed in the work.
  • Your sections/chapters must follow the required guidelines of your department, and it will be important to check with your advisor along the way to ensure that you are in compliance with all of the requirements.
  • Your conclusion will address our research question or hypothesis again. Did you answer the question or prove your hypothesis? What might others want to look at to enhance the work that you have done?
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Other Points to Consider

  1. Length:  A student capstone writing project will vary in length depending upon the academic level and departmental requirements. At the Bachelor’s level, it may run between 30-45 pages; at the Master’s level, it may be up to 100 pages; at the doctorate level, it will run beyond 100 pages.
  2. References: There is not specific resource number requirement. However, for a capstone project, the minimum would be about 12-14, the maximum probably 25.
  3. Formatting: Be certain that you follow your departmental guidelines regarding format style, table of contents, citations, and any abstract requirement. Using a software program that will convert your references into the correct style is really useful.
Do’s   Don'ts

Be certain that you stick precisely to the topic at hand. Determining in advance will prevent you from venturing into areas of research that are not really related.

Don’t leave this project to the last minute. There is no way it can be produced well unless you begin several months in advance, even more for a doctoral dissertation or thesis.

Meet with your advisor often. This is the one way that you can ensure your final draft is going to meet with approval.

Don’t take your focus off of the need for scholarly writing and tone. No capstone project will be acceptable without proper grammar and soundness of academic style.

If you should have any questions or concerns or are in any way unsure about how to write a capstone project, be certain that you get the assistance you need in advance of proceeding. There is nothing worse than completing a section or chapter only to find that it will not meet the standards of your department. It is critical to stay in close communication with your advisor throughout the process.

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