How to Write a Capstone Project
A capstone project is a very important paper for an undergraduate student, and serves as a culminating project. This research paper must be well-analyzed and properly structured, as it consists of a semester or two of the research that goes into a final project. It generally covers 30 pages. A capstone project gives students a chance to present what they have learned and prepares them for research work and graduation school. Many students do not know how to start writing capstone project paper. Fortunately, the brief paper writing tips below will assist every undergraduate in writing a capstone project.
Since a capstone project is far more lengthy that a typical essay or research paper, students often feel like it’s a lot harder to write. Well, from some perspective this is true, since you simply have to do more research and gather more information. Moreover, a capstone project is like the crown jewel of the course—no wonder it’s given so much value. However, you shouldn’t be misled by all this hysteria. You will easily do well if you follow these tips on how to write a capstone paper.
Capstone Project Writing Tips
Before you start writing, read this collection of tips that deal with all the different (and sometimes really annoying) details you wish you’d know before you started writing. You’re welcome.
- A capstone project is lengthy, so remember two important rules: save the file every time after you have written several paragraphs, and do not delete anything completely. Though we live in the age of technology, not so many people have a habit of saving everything they have written. And, take it from us, there aren’t many things that are more annoying than a half-finished project that you has just accidentally deleted.
The same applies to information in your paper. Even if your adviser said it’s not quite to the point or you think it’s unnecessary, cut it from the main document and keep in something like a “backup capstone project,” so you can easily find it in case it becomes relevant and necessary again.
- Track your changes. A typical capstone project consists of 30 to 45 pages, so when you are editing something, it’s a good idea to keep track of all the changes made. Some students have a written diary, and others use services online that can save text documents with an alterations record.
- Check the amount of information on your topic. This doesn’t mean you have to know your topic already, and just start conducting research. Let’s say, you are considering writing about symbols in love poetry—have a quick look at how much information you can find about love poetry and poem analysis offhand. If you have troubles at the very beginning, it’s better to change topics since the situation won’t get better, and you will spend weeks trying to find some reliable and relevant sources.
Steps in Capstone Project Writing
1. Find out about the capstone project’s requirements.
Ask your adviser or the chief of your department what you are expected to write. There are many different details about the writing and research process of a capstone paper that is necessary to know of in the early stage of the project. Do you need to submit a capstone proposal, or you can you just discuss the topic with your adviser? What kind of project is better to write for your particular topic—a case study, evaluation, survey, or something else?
2. Choose a topic.
Select a topic you are interested in and competent with. It will be more interesting to research and write a topic you are knowledgeable in. After choosing the title, submit an abstract of a capstone project to your adviser. You will receive detailed comments on your project and the instructions for the next steps you need to take.
3. Start researching a topic.
It’s more likely that you will have a full semester to research your topic. Remember that a capstone project is a critically important research paper on a discipline or even two, so spend the time for the research wisely. You should learn something new and specific about the topic you have chosen to be able to write the whole project.
The best way how to do a capstone project includes researching of both primary and secondary sources, and both of them need time. Secondary sources are mainly books and articles, so you need to take your time to read everything and analyze. But primary sources, such as poems (in case you have research on literature), human reactions and any other phenomenon of our life that can be studied take even more time to explore.
4. Use only reliable sources.
While writing a project, remember that you are expected to develop a topic considerably, so use the citations of reputable sources to make your work valuable. The number of sources you have to include in the bibliography depends on the length of the work. For example. if it’s 45 pages (which is about 20,000 words), you need to list from 12 to 15 sources you have used. Also, don’t forget about in-text citations and references.
5. Proofread your paper.
After writing a first draft, edit it scrupulously, then double check it after a short break. At this time, you can submit the final work to your adviser and correct it according to the adviser’s comments. If you completed all the steps attentively, then you will prepare a presentation of your project for faculty, a class or a group of peers.
Mistakes to Avoid While Writing a Capstone Project
– Do not write your project at the last moment. Remember that writing a capstone project requires a substantial amount of time.
– Do not forget to demonstrate your understanding of the topic in the work. If you are not concise enough, you may be asked to rewrite everything from scratch.
– Do not forget to develop your thesis statement.
– Do not avoid to include as many facts as you can to support your point.
– Do not forget to create an outline for your document, it will help you be coherent and to the point. Also, in case you forget something, you have a plan which you can check.
– Do not forget to check the report with “fresh eyes,” as it will be easier to find mistakes.
Most research papers as termed as being informative. However, a capstone project has to be connected to real-life situations. In a capstone project, students need to demonstrate that they have understood the concepts of the paper, and can implement them in real-life issues.
How to Choose Capstone Project Topics
Choosing a topic is crucial for your capstone project—it has to be interesting, engaging and at least be somehow connected with your interests or hobbies. If you are wondering why, just imagine you need to write 45 pages on a topic you feel deadly bored about. Is that convincing enough?
1) The difficulty with choosing a topic for your capstone project is that it actually can be related to two or even more disciplines, not only one. So take your time and think what has fascinated you during your studies the most. If you have some notes left from previous years, you can look them through (of course, if you have a habit of writing questions that come to your head during a lecture). This is still not a topic, but at least you will find the direction to move in.
2) Now it’s time to actually choose the topic. You have the field of studies – let’s lay, literature and language. What do you need to do here is have a quick look at what you have been studying the whole course and form a related topic. To make the task easier, ask your counselor to give you a list of topics or review the works written previously in your department. You can base your topic on those you’ve found or come up with a completely unique one, but remember that you need it to be confirmed by your project counselor.
3) Don’t be afraid of changes. In the process of the research, most students find that their topic doesn’t quite suit the scientific reality they encounter. For example, if your topic was “symbols in Celtic love poetry,” you initially find out that the Celts weren’t very fond of writing love poetry, and most of their poems were about battles, power and might. But don’t be afraid, as this doesn’t mean you have to conduct new research or something—simply adjust the topic. If you have found reasons why the Celts didn’t write about love, then your topic should include this important discovery. It will read like this “Main reasons for avoiding the love topic.”
Do you have a better idea on how to write a capstone project? Share your opinion in the comment section below. The best and most useful secrets will be added to the article.