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CAPSTONE PROJECT: Parts of a Capstone Project

What a Table of Contents Could Contain

I      Introduction
       A     Statement Of Problem/Opportunity (Research Question)
       B     Background, Context, And Significance Of Study
       C     Project Researcher Identification
II     Literature Review
       A     Subheadings (Themes Discovered In Review)
       B     Notice Of Gaps In Knowledge
III    Methods
       A     Subjects/Participants
       B     Data Collection Approaches/Strategies
             1     Advantage Of Strategy
             2     Limitation Of Strategy
             3     Potential Risk
             4     Ethical Issues About Collection Upon The Subjects/Participants
       C     Data Analysis Approaches And/Or Software (NOT The Results Themselves, Just How You Are Going To Analyze The Data – Coding Method, Analysis Of Interviews/Recordings, Mathematics And Stats Analysis)
IV     Results, Findings, Interpretation, And Discussion
V      Recommendations, Application, And Conclusion
VI     Reference Pages

What Goes Into Each Section

I   INTRODUCTION
The Introduction is not a summary of the paper. You do not discuss the outcomes of your work here. This is entirely about introduction of the context, intro the problem, the methods used, and a brief, 2-line, introduction of yourself in relationship to the problem.
 
While you discuss the problem tell the reader the major question. What assumptions have been made? Tell what limitation have been placed on the problem; you cannot solve all related problems, just the one.
 
II   LITERATURE REVIEW
The literature review is the summary of the findings. This is not where you state what you got from them or how they relate to problem. Here you note the themes of the articles and their common conclusions, NOT your conclusion. This is not a statement about a partial solution, but a summary of information about your problem. This is a fact-based section of the paper. You aren’t writing out the solution to the problem here; that comes later.
 
Also, you note if there is a gap in knowledge – what is not covered in these articles. You are being critical of the literature. It answered this and this, but no one has research or thought of this…
Include quotes if they are helpful. As a general idea, quotes should only be used when the other person stated it so well that your paraphrase doesn’t capture enough of their idea. Most ideas can be paraphrased easily. Quotations are used because the language, the expression of the idea, is so much better than you could paraphrase.
 
III   METHODS
Methods is not where you tell us what you discovered. This is an analysis of the process (strengths and weakness of the process). DO NOT give the results of any of your research here.
Discuss all aspects of data collection – who, what, when, where, and HOW. “How” is a big issue.
Discuss why you choose one form of data collection over another. What were the strengths and weaknesses of one format over another.
 
Discuss any ethical issues about the collection of data, the questions themselves, any sort of ethical issues involved.
 
You must also discuss the methods of analysis. Go into detail about how you coded interviews and how you did the statistics. You must describe this. It is not just drawing conclusions based on interpretation of a comment, but how did you go about reaching the conclusion. You must analyze your methods.
 
You are NOT telling us what you discovered in method section.
 
IV   RESULTS, FINDINGS, INTERPRETATION AND DISCUSSION
In this section of the paper you will tell the readers the results of your research, what did the data say. Here you lay out the statistics and their interpretation. This is not the conclusion (how the research relates to your problem), but what does the research say. If needed, include a graph with your interpretation. Graphs, charts, and survey results are appendices.
 
Interpret the data –not just the raw numbers, but themes that come up from the numbers. Are there multiple interpretations possible? Multiple ideas/themes present? As part of the interpretation, spend time with how the method/format of research produced these results.
 
V   RECOMMENDATIONS, CONCLUSIONS, AND APPLICATIONS
Here is where all the conclusions are stated. Here you state the conclusions from the lit review. Here you describe the conclusions drawn from your surveys and interviews. In this section you connect the results of your research to your initial problem. Now you tell us how it all relates AND how to move forward.
 
Here you state recommendations for future application from your research. In other words, now what will you do with your problem. If done properly, this conclusion is driven entirely from the research you did, both lit review and other data collection.
 
This application points to what you are going to do/are doing now that you know WHAT to do.

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