City College: How to Write a Good Capstone Project

What is a Capstone Project

One of the most important tasks that a student needs to complete in the final year of a degree course is a capstone project. Also called a dissertation or thesis, a capstone project requires students to produce an original and independent research work on a chosen topic area. A typical capstone project involves a research question and a project that answers the research question.

Size and Structure of a Capstone Project

The capstone is a serious and detailed research body of work and should be anywhere between 25 to 50 pages in length, accompanied by appropriate references and citations.

A capstone project has a defined structure in the following sequence:

  1. Title
  2. Abstract
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Introduction
  5. Problem Description
  6. Literature Review
  7. Methodology
  8. Findings and Recommendations
  9. References
  10. Appendices

Points to Consider While Writing a Capstone Project

Choosing a Topic

Selecting a topic is the first step in writing a capstone project. Usually, students have the liberty of choosing any subject that is of practical and scientific use and which they feel passionate about. It is highly advisable, even necessary, to get your topic approved by your instructor.

Specifying a Citation Style

Typically, a particular citation style is specified for a project and must be followed throughout the work. Knowing the nuances of the citation style is important. Common citation styles are MLA, APA, Harvard, Chicago, Turabian and others.

Checking the Grading Rubric

Keeping this list handy makes sense as your project needs to include all these requirements and will be graded accordingly.

Combining Primary and Secondary Sources

Since a capstone project is meant to showcase the skills, knowledge and creativity of a student, it is better to emphasize your own primary research and interpretation of data rather than rely heavily on secondary research. A good capstone project will combine and present both types of materials in the most useful analytical manner.

Editing your Work

Using terminology that is appropriate to the topic is important. A medical and engineering project will differ in their style of writing. Regardless of the subject, grammatical and language errors must be weeded out in any case, and expert, 3rd person proofreading may prove helpful.

Planning

A practical plan of action is needed to accomplish a successful research project, but what is more important is to stick to the plan. A good plan will include a breakdown of three major tasks: researching, writing and resting. It is highly advisable to keep track of all the decisions and changes you make during the course of writing.

Despite its obvious challenges, a capstone project is one of the most valuable and rewarding academic endeavors in a student’s education process as it shows what the student is capable of and what he or she has learned.

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