Capstone Project: a Complete Guide

As Process:

As a verb, the literature review is a continuous activity which begins as soon as you have selected a topic and begun your research (Ridley, 2008, pg. 3). While reading and collecting data, you will keep track of your findings in some sort of a research log or citation management system of your choice.

As Product:

As a noun, the literature review is part of the final draft of your stand alone document or part of your larger thesis or dissertation. It is the the piece of writing that allows the reader to know that you have engaged in deep research of your topic.

It also allows you to build a dialogued with the research performed before yours, by offering an analysis of those works in relation to your own. This piece of writing will allow you to identify ideas, theories, terminology, or the timeline of thought about the topic as it has developed over time (Ridley, 2008, pg. 2). This piece of writing is where you are headed as you embark on the literature review process.

Example Of A Capstone Project Outline

A capstone project is more demanding than any work you’ll write, or have written, in college. It’s based
on independent research, and is probably one of the most valuable and rewarding academic works available
to a student.

The first step always seems to be: “choose a topic.” Getting a little tiresome, right? But as with all
big projects, once you register for a research course, they give you the independence to show your
knowledge, skill, and creativity. Moreover: you register for a capstone project because you have
interest in a topic, not because you were forced to do so.

Each college and university has a registration process mapped out for you, either on the university’s
website or in hard copy form at the office. So, we won’t delve into technical details that may differ
slightly. Instead we’ll focus on writing (and assume you’ve already registered for the course and
completed your proposal).

You should know that the structure of a Capstone Project can be different, depending on the university, the subject, and the goals of writing. That is why you need to develop a proper structure for your outline before completing the task and ask your instructor if needed. You can also find a sample capstone project outline on the Internet.

It’s hard to show an example that would be useful for students of all subjects and universities. However, we can describe the most common elements of such papers and how to write them properly.

To learn how to write a capstone project, you can include the following chapters:

  1. A brief overview of your Senior work – It should be short, a few sentences long and it serves as the introduction to other sections of the paper;
  2. Research that was necessary for your work – you can tell about the historical background of the subject you studied, you can present it as a table or a list, it depends what would be more convenient for readers;
  3. The summary of your study – what is the goal of the study, why do you do it, what do you need for it;
  4. Information and requirements from your instructor;
  5. Description of the work – A more detailed overall description of your work and the steps you took for it;
  6. The summary of your presentation.

This is an approximate example of such work. However, it can vary depending on the purpose or topic.

A typical capstone project outline is given below:

  1. The Project Title. This is simply an essential part of your project; you begin writing your project with a title.
  2. Brief abstract. The abstract gives an overall summary of the reason for your project, contains the methodology with the expected results and the conclusions which are expected to be drawn from your work, all given in 100-150 words.
  3. Problem Statement. Your problem statement is best written succinctly, in at least a paragraph.
  4. Research. Here, you discuss the problem of the research and clearly explain the basis of your project.
  5. Creative Project. This part of the capstone project outline template discusses your creative idea, the project as well as the product you are required to develop and the logic behind all of these.
  6. Literature Review. Your capstone sample outline has to contain a short literature review that is related to your chosen topic. You should bear in mind that your literature review should include minimal citations, that could be at least up to five scholarly or professional sources. You can use this literature review from your proposal in your final project submission.
  7. Methodology. This cuts out the details of the steps, as well as procedures that you will follow when carrying out your project. It is a systematic report of what you will do, how and where you will do it, the people who will be involved as participants, how the analysis of your result would be carried out, and if yours is a creative project, it will contain what you wish to learn or achieve at the end of the process. Your methodology also must contain a description of the end products at the end of the process of your essay, a CMU capstone guide could show the format which the outcome will take and the things which would be evaluated for credit at the end of all processes.
    • Length and Style. You will be required to write the expected length and style of your paper and the actual format of the documentation that will support your work when you are proposing a creative adventure. Also, it is required that you explain how your advisor will supervise, evaluate as well as determine the scores for the project by assigning specific percentages to each grading category. You are expected to also share the medium in which you hope to share the results of your project on completion in addition to your results being reviewed by your faculty advisor. The various media available to share your results include exhibitions, national conferences, journals, on-campus and even SCREE.
    • Budget and Funding. Remember to include a comprehensive budget which also includes the funding source. Perhaps you wish to request for funds from the Honors Program, you have to fill up a Student Reimbursement Form, and this must be submitted with your proposal and budget.
    • Finally, never forget to include a list containing the reference to the citations which you made in your proposal.

    When you’re looking for a capstone paper outline example, make sure that examples you find are appropriate for you. There are different styles of such papers for different subjects so many samples may not meet your requirements. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to such details. Otherwise, you risk failing it.

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    Many students find it difficult to write such papers, especially if they need to write big project outlines. Some give up on the initial stage simply because they doubt their abilities. However, luckily, if you already have examples of capstone projects but can’t write this paper well, you can use the help of a company, which provides a capstone project service for students. Such a company will help you reach success with ease. They will prepare a top-notch project for you within the shortest time and guaranty high-quality.

A capstone project is another way to sum up skills and competencies the student has gained during the course. This kind of paper may be presented in various forms: case studies, research papers, surveys, outcome-based evaluation, focus groups, and more.

The type and complexity will depend on the tutor’s requirements and course. The student needs to pick one of capstone project ideas related to the course or specialization and write a paper.

How long is a capstone project? This will depend on the tutor’s requirements and usually is approximately forty pages long or more. You will be given plenty of time to write it.

Along with the writing process, students are frequently required to make a presentation (also known as a defense) of their project. The aim of such presentation is to improve public speaking skills and help students clearly express their thoughts.

Along with a presentation, you will need to create a portfolio of your project that will accompany your presentation with additional materials and help the listener understand how you have come to your conclusions.

Here you can read one of our capstone project examples for nursing. We have commented on this paper with essential notes that you need to consider while writing. The paper was written in APA style and can serve as a great example to follow, especially if you are writing a capstone project for the first time.

Please, note that the capstone project sample may differ from your requirements; we are giving you only a general view on how a written capstone project looks. Also, check out other capstone paper examples on our website.

Click the images to see their full size.

Common Mistakes

  • Rushing the work, or squeezing all researching and writing into a short period.
  • Repetitive work. Never cut and paste from your previous papers or projects.
  • Lack of focus. Sometimes students include so much material in their capstone that the project lacks emphasis on the main elements learned during the course.
  • Forgetting the importance of the project. Your capstone project will be retained by the college or university and it bears your name—so it must present your best work.
  • Not gathering data in a systemic manner. If you are scattered and disorganized, the result will be chaotic and jumbled.
  • Lack of analysis. Describing what you have read in the primary sources is not enough. You must interpret and analyze what you read and apply critical thinking.
  • Not presenting a planned project. You need to answer your capstone question by reading, summarizing, and synthesizing the research materials properly. It is essentially analyzing the work of others to create an original work of your own.

Developing your thesis statement/research question

  • Think back to the beginning of your freshman year and make a list of all the papers and essays you wrote, projects you presented, exams and courses you took.
  • Flesh out the list by writing a brief description of each examination, quiz, test, essay, and paper.
  • Understand that a capstone project is similar to a research paper. Seek out the research papers you have already done and keep them handy.
  • Choose a topic and get it approved by your instructor: it must be cleverly worded to include as much of the work you have covered as possible.
  • Collect a solid number of up-to-date references in the form of books, articles, journal entries, websites, and other scholarly material.
  • Set aside a generous period of time to do necessary reading: this will cover familiar ground and some of the references will be books you have already read and used as sources.
  • Take notes and start to draft the capstone project using revised material with a fresh slant and taking new perspectives on covered ground.
  • Write the conclusion and the introduction last: this gives you an opportunity to announce the gist of your work in an appropriate way and devise an effective thesis statement.
  1. Research how to write outlines, how to develop their structures, what outlines are mostly used for such tasks – you may already have such an experience with other types of papers.
  2. Decide which number format you prefer to use. If your tutor doesn’t give you requirements for it, you can choose a format that is most appropriate for you. Make sure it would be convenient for your readers.
  3. Select the template for your essay outline – you can find capstone outline templates on the Internet or in the library.
  4. Start building the structure for headings and subheadings – the number of such elements can be different.
  5. Include the smaller sections to subheadings if needed and take note that you can add more sections later if necessary.
  6. Note down the content of each section and fill it with text, figures, and other elements and do not forget to use appropriate formatting and citation styles. There are different styles so your instructor can provide the necessary information on what to use for your project.
  7. When the work is completed, read it several times and rewrite fragments that don’t sound well, you can also find logical and other mistakes during the revision.
  8. Check for grammar errors and fix them, you can also check your text for plagiarism if you have access to checking systems.

Specialists recommend to start writing your outline for a capstone project from making a list of essays and papers you wrote, and you should also include exams you took and projects that were presented by you. Each of these categories should be provided with a description.

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