What Are Capstone Papers?

A capstone project is a research paper that you will write at the end of a course to show that you can apply the knowledge that you have acquired during the rest of your learning. Often the capstone must be passed in order for you to pass your course so it is vital that you do your best work. This means that you have to select your capstone project ideas very carefully to ensure that you have a good starting point for your project.

Your capstone is independent research on a question of your choosing. Its purpose is to show that you have learned from the course and to demonstrate your ability to apply critical thinking and communicate effectively through your scientific writing. Typically it will take you a full semester or more to research and write your research papers.

As with any other form of research paper your culminating work must be structured and formatted in a very precise manner. Your tutor or supervisor will provide you with clear guidance as to how your paper should be laid out and formatted and this information must be followed to the letter. Typically a capstone paper will follow the structure outlined below:

  • Capstone project title page
  • Abstract – a summary of the capstone
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction – this should set the stage for your project
  • Description of the problem – outline the problem and how you will tackle it
  • Literature review – set the background for your research and show what is already known
  • Description of the project – what methods you used and how you conducted your research
  • Conclusions / Lessons learned – What were the outcomes from your research and what do they mean
  • References
  • Appendices

What Subjects Require a Capstone Project?

Capstone projects are becoming more and more common at all levels. They are usually required in subjects in which you have an opportunity in which you will be able to apply your learning in a practical situation. Typical subject areas in which you may be required to submit a capstone project are:

  • Information Technology
  • Business studies / MBA
  • Nursing
  • Engineering
  • Dentistry
  • Marketing
  • Teaching

How to Select Capstone Project Ideas

Selecting the right capstone project topics is very important if you want to be sure of finishing your work on time and having a successful project that will impress your supervisor. Often a larger capstone project will require you to submit a formal proposal so that your supervisor will be able to carefully review your research project topics to make sure that it is suitable. They will want to see that your ideas for capstone project topics are:

  • Relevant to your subject area
  • Will cover your areas of learning sufficiently
  • Of importance to your subject and current
  • Defined well enough for you to conduct your research
  • Something that you have a good chance of successfully achieving with your available time and resources

So how do you come up with capstone project ideas that will satisfy those requirements as well as being of interest to you? The following guidance will help you with finding and selecting a list of capstone project titles that will be suitable for your research:

  • Look back over your class work and identify issues that were covered there that may interest you.
  • Review your work experience and practical training to identify any areas of frustration that may offer project possibilities.
  • Look at your future educational and career goals and see if there are areas that you need to discover more about.
  • Read extensively within your particular areas of interest; many papers will highlight areas for new research or research that may be weak in some way.

3 Killer Mistakes When Choosing a Capstone Topic

Your topics for capstone project writing must be carefully chosen if you are going to be able to complete your work with any chance of success. The following are some of the things that you must avoid when you select your ideas if you are going to get the results that you need:

  • Selecting a topic that is too broad: you must have a research question or idea that will focus what you will do. Without a clear idea of what your research is about you could end up simply going in circle and never reaching a clear conclusion.
  • Too narrow a topic: just as having a question that is too broad can leave you going in circles a question that is too precise can cause your project to simply be too short and will not give you the opportunity to showcase your knowledge and skills.
  • Beyond your resources: investigating the impact of management styles for your MBA may sound like a great idea but if you only have access to one company and a single manager you are unlikely to be able to conduct a project that is going to impress anyone.

If you are struggling with coming up with the right capstone project ideas for your research keep in touch with our site for professional advice and subject related topics lists to help you.