( Note: On the cover page you actually use the words “running head:” You do not on all the rest of the pages ) ( Note page number position )











The Capstone Guidebook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Capstone Design and Writing












Douglas L. Blakemore, Ph.D. Full Professor

Accounting, Finance, and Information Systems Department Ferris State University

( Running head: CAPSTONE GUIDEBOOK ) ( 1 )


























Copyright: 2012, Douglas L. Blakemore, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved




Table of Contents



Note, page numbers are right aligned





Chapter 1: Getting Started 4

An Overview of What Needs to be Accomplished 4

Selecting a Topic 5

Generating ideas for a research topic or a project 5

Types of research studies 6

Descriptive studies 6

Relational studies 7

Causal studies 7

Exploratory studies 7

Hypothesis 7

Is it feasible 8

Completing the Topic Selection Process 8

Progress Towards your Goal 10

Chapter 2: The Five-Chapter Approach to the Capstone 11

Chapter 1 design 11

Introduction 12

Background 12

Statement of the problem 12

Purpose of the study 13

Rationale 14


Research questions 14 Nature of the study 15 Significance of the study 15 Definition of terms 15 Assumptions and limitations 15 Chapter 2 Design 16 Chapter 3 Design 17 Description of Methodology 17 Design of the study 17 Data analysis 18 Chapter 4 Design 18 Chapter 5 Design 18 Chapter 3: Organizing the Presentation of Your Study/Project 17 APA Headings 20 Tables and Figures 21 Abstract 24 Citations and References 25 Appendix 26 Formatting the Running Head 26 Chapter 4: A Few Basics for Writing the Capstone 27 Three Basic Writing Principles 27 Clarity 27 Simplicity 28 Brevity 29 Common Writing Errors 29 Course Specific Guidelines 30 Reference 33 Appendix A – APA Essentials 34 Appendix B – Links To Websites with Additional APA Information 38 Appendix C – Template 39


( CAPSTONE GUIDEBOOK 6 See Ch 3 for required format for headings. APA has a required format to follow. Do not accept Word formatting without reviewing even if it says it is APA. Note, running head Chapter 1: Getting Started )





For this class you will be conducting a research study or completing a project which demonstrates the skills and knowledge you have obtained in your field. The

completed study/project will not only demonstrate depth of knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge, but it may also allow opportunities to show prospective employers how your acquired skills might be utilized in the workplace. This is your opportunity to showcase your abilities. Therefore, you will want to give careful thought to your goals for the research you are conducting or the project you will complete and how you will accomplish those goals. This chapter is intended to help you consider what needs to happen before this course is finished and to give you some guidance in selecting an appropriate research study or project.

An Overview of What Needs to be Accomplished


Okay, so the basic goal is to do some research or complete a project and write a paper about it. You have probably done a short version of this at some point in time during your college career or in the workplace. For this class, however, it is not a short version and it cannot be put together at the last minute. Start today. Continue on a regular schedule. Devote enough time to selecting a topic that will allow you to demonstrate your talents and abilities. On the other hand don’t spend so much time selecting a topic that you sacrifice the time you need to complete the work. Plan how you will accomplish your goals. Methodology matters. Once the work on the research/project is done, don’t be surprised by the fact that you are far from being finished. Presentation is crucial. All the knowledge in the world is worth little if you can’t share what you have discovered. You will need time to develop tables and figures. You will need time to write and edit and continue to write and edit until the final work is presented in a clear, understandable, and organized format that follows APA current standards and the five-chapter




approach presented in this manual. A lot of work? Definitely! Remember, however, the final result reflects your abilities and the image you want to present to those around you—one of whom may be a future employer.

Selecting a Topic


The first step then is to select a topic. A list of possible approaches is given below. You may have additional ideas. You can talk with your instructor about those possibilities. Read through the suggestions below and then brainstorm ideas. Remember, there will be a lot of time spent on this project before the semester is finished; one of the keys to making the course satisfying is to select a topic that interests you. Even better if it not just interests you, but fascinates you.

Generating ideas for a research topic or a project. There are various types of research studies and projects that may be completed. A discussion of some of the types of research methodology is given in later sections, if you need help in that area. One approach for generating ideas might be to:

1. Read through possible approaches


2. Review prior textbooks, websites, magazine articles, etc. to compile a list of questions or topics that are of particular interest to you

3. Consider workplace applications or situations that could benefit from additional research or application projects

4. Consider what additional information you would like to know about topics of interest

5. Review the questions in the subsection entitled “Is it feasible”

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