Skip to Main Content
live chat

Capstone & Thesis Research

This guide walks you through steps you might take to complete your major paper or project.

Choosing a topic

Choose a topic that you find interesting! Select something that will hold your interest for the nine weeks that you will work on this project. For a capstone or thesis topic consider:

  • Issues that are relevant to your workplace, classroom experience, or career goals.
  • A topic that has caught your eye in your textbook, a journal article, or an issue that you explored for previous classwork or projects and would like to pursue further.
  • A topic should be manageable in scale. If a topic is too broad, you will have difficulty covering all of the necessary material. If the topic is too narrow, you may have difficulty finding material published on your topic and struggle to stretch the material to meet your project length requirement.
  • If your assignment requires you to do primary research (surveys, interviews, empirical research study), allow time to complete the process.
  • Be flexible. If your topic is too narrow or broad, you may still be able to incorporate the aspects of it that interest you. 
  • Try to have a few options in mind, in case you find out that your first choice is not feasible after exploring available literature. 
  • Always check to make sure that your topic meets your instructor's assignment guidelines. If in doubt, it is best to ask early in the process.

Developing your thesis statement/research question

Many students start with a general topic and then narrow the focus. For example, you may be interested in social media and decide to examine its use by employees in the workplace. You could be even more specific, limiting your scope to a particular geographical location, a specific type of company, an age group, etc.

For most papers, you will want to write a thesis statement expressing the argument you want to make. The statement will guide you as you search for information. In this case, you may decide that you want to find research on the pros and cons of social media use in the workplace. A sample thesis statement is Do the benefits to companies whose employees use social media at work outweigh the negatives? 

If you plan to conduct actual research, you will need to establish a research question or questions that your study will attempt to answer. For example, we may ask Does the size of a company make a significant difference in the degree to which companies benefit from social media use among their employees? To address this question, you could do a survey of various companies and compare the responses of large, medium and small companies.  Ideally this study would cover new ground and not exactly replicate previous studies. 

Forming a research question

We find it helps many students to think strategically about their topic if they ask it in the form of a question. Here's how.:

  • Think of a broad topic that interests you.  Human Resources is a popular area of research, so lets start there, and focus in on the area of training.
  • We will then narrow that topic to orientating or onboarding.
  • A sample research question on this topic may be "How does employee onboarding improve retention?"  This search can focus on a particular action taken by employers, which is onboarding, and a specific result, improving employee retention.
  • If you plan to conduct original research, you could create a survey with original questions and submit it to a variety of companies and compare the responses.  Ideally your study would cover new ground and not exactly replicate previous studies. 


Watch and learn with Webster U. Library online presentations: