Nov 05, 2019
You’ve worked hard all the way through college, and now the time has come. You have to start on your capstone project, the most important thing you’ll do during your academic career. This process takes months and can seem incredibly overwhelming, so the trick is to take it one step at a time.
The first step in writing your capstone paper is to write a capstone proposal. Read on to learn how to write a proposal and how that will lead you into the rest of your capstone project.
Pick Your Type of Project
There are a few different types of capstone projects you can choose from. Depending on your major and your advisor, different styles may be better suited for you.
- Case studies analyze people, groups, events, periods, institutions, policies, decisions, and systems in order to research a certain question
- Outcome-based evaluations measure program effects in a target population
- Program evaluations are a systematic method for collecting, analyzing, and using the information to answer questions about policies, programs, and projects
- Focus groups use a small, diverse group of people to study reactions to new products or political policies
- Surveys examine and record areas and their features to construct a plan, description, or map
You may also want to use a different style of capstone paper, but these are the most common.
Focus on a Topic
Once you’ve decided on a project style, you need to focus in on a topic. A capstone paper is meant to be a deep dive on a specific question or idea, so you need to get specific. Something like “The effect of the #MeToo movement on political policy” is far too broad – think more along the lines of “The effect of the #MeToo movement on policies in the mayor’s office in Cincinnati in 2018.”
When you’re starting to hone in on a topic, think about the things that most interest you. What do you find yourself reading about during your free time or talking to relatives about during the holidays? You can also talk to your advisor about topic ideas in your field.
Write a Capstone Proposal
When you’ve settled on a topic, it’s time to write your capstone proposal. This will be a general overview of your capstone project that your committee can review before you begin work. It will help you nail down specifics about your paper and establish a timeline (which we’ll discuss more in a moment).
Your proposal will start with information about you, your project, and your mentor, as well as a personal statement about your personal interest and expectations with this project. You’ll then cover the objective of your project, the background and rationale for doing this project, and the specific aims of the project. From there, you’ll get into the logistics of how you’ll approach the project, including a timeline, budget, and literature review.
Make a Timeline
As part of your capstone proposal, you’ll need to make a timeline for your project. This will also help you stay on track with your deadline and will make the whole project more approachable.
Break down each step of your process starting from the proposal and moving forward. You may want to include things like research, a first draft, editing, getting feedback from your advisor, and preparing for your defense. Set a certain amount of time for each with the date of your defense at the end.
Once your timeline is in place, it’s time to jump in and get going on the project. While you’re writing your proposal, you should create a literature review. This is when you will take a look at existing literature on the subject you’re writing about and decide which sources you’re going to use.
With help from your advisor, pull a list of sources relevant to your research. Read through them, decide which ones will be helpful to your project, and write up summaries of those materials. Pull additional sources as needed and start forming the foundation for your project.
Set a Structure
Now that you’ve done some research, you should be able to start developing an idea of how you want to structure your capstone paper. You may want to draft an outline for the paper at this point, drawing from standard capstone paper templates and adding pieces as you need.
In general, capstone papers will have the same basic elements. You’ll have the title page and the introduction at the front, followed by your literature review. From there, you’ll include a discussion of the method you used to do your research and the results you found. Then you’ll draw conclusions from your research and recommend actions moving forward based on these findings, and finally, you’ll have your references.
Write and Edit
Once your structure is set and your research is done, it’s time to dive into writing out your capstone paper. This can seem overwhelming, so remember to take things one piece at a time. These writing services can also help you get your thoughts and research organized into a coherent paper.
Once you have your first draft done, you’ll need to do a lot of editing. Go back through yourself for the first couple of edits, and then get feedback from your advisor and edit based on that. You may also want to hire a professional copy editor to make sure your paper is clean and complete.
Get Started on a Great Capstone Project
Writing your capstone proposal and paper is the defining moment in your academic career. It’s the point where you get to dive in and do your own research and exploration. Remember to stick to your timeline, communicate with your advisor, and stay focused on your specific topic, and you’ll have a capstone paper that your committee will love.
If you’d like to take the next step on your path of success, check out the rest of our website. We can help you kickstart your career and find a project to give you real on-the-ground experience. Search our projects by category and get started on your promising career today.