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Capstone & Thesis Research

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

Before you begin your research project

Make sure you understand what is required. Read your assignment carefully and talk with your instructor if you need clarification. Think about how much time and other resources you have and need to complete all parts of the research assignment within the course timetable.

Steps in doing a capstone paper or project

Step 1

Select a topic area. See the "Selecting and focusing your research topic" tab at left for suggestions on choosing a topic, narrowing your focus, and developing a thesis statement or research question.

Step 2

Do a literature review. The "Literature Review" tab will link you to helpful resources for planning a search and organizing your results. The "Start Searching" tab gives some examples for using article databases effectively.

Step 3

Doing primary research (for those students required to do so). Check the "Doing primary research" tab for resources on creating surveys, finding tests, designing studies, etc.

Step 4

Present your results. The "Writing & Citing" tab brings together resources for writing the paper, citing your sources, and avoiding plagiarism. The "Presentation skills" tab will help you create effective visual aids and deliver a professional presentation.

Graduate thesis and dissertation general guidelines

Here you will find everything you need to know about the purpose of a dissertation or thesis and the steps to complete and submit your work.

These guidelines were created by the Webster University Office of Academic Affairs and approved by Webster University Graduate Council. This current version is from 2018.

Academic writing & research video

Watch and learn with Webster U. Library online presentations

Visit our Library Training, Tutorials & Webinars page to see tutorials that will sharpen your research skills and offer helpful guidance in doing a capstone, thesis or advanced research project. Recorded webinars may be watched at your convenience. Live webinars offer an interactive experience with Webster U. librarians present to answer your questions.

The Research Cycle

The Research Cycle is a circular process with the goal of identifying relevant and useful results.  The pieces of the process are:

  1. Define task: What is your assignment, problem or question?
  2. Identify options: What kinds of information do you need and where do you look?
  3. Select your sources: How do you search for them and which do you choose?
  4. Analyze content: What di you discover and what does it mean?
  5. Present findings: How do you organize and communicate what you have learned?

When you complete these steps you will need to evaluate your results.  Depending on your assignment you may need to refine or change your question and begin the process again.

 CMST 101: Introduction to Communications, Marian Lyles: Intro to Research. Seattle Central College Library.  Seattle Central College. 10 Feb. 2016. Web. 16 Jun 2016.