Capstone Style and Format

Style of the Capstone

  • Audiences for the Capstone may consist of academics or professionals who are doing research work in same area or may be a particular partner organization. The style and format of the manuscript should be tailored to the audience you and your advisor have identified. See format section below.
  • APA (American Psychological Association) Style and Publication Manual are required for capstone manuscripts. 
  • Opt for simplicity, clarity, directness, and precision in presentation, and consistency in terminology.
  • Avoid personal or unsupported judgments. Make sure that all conclusions and recommendations are based on evidence presented in the capstone. Include only what you can prove, not what you “know.”
  • Identify and acknowledge in the manuscript the limitations of your data and analysis. 

Report Formats

Weimer and Vining (2017) distinguish four types of policy knowledge creation based on two underlying dimensions: audience and focus. They distinguish between studies for a specific client or partner and those for the broader academic (or epistemic) community. They also distinguish between studies that focus on the substance or content of policy (what) and those that focus on the process that produces policy (how). 

Creation and Application of Public Policy Knowledge (adapted from Weimer& Vining, 2017)

Primary Audience: Experts

Primary Audience: Clients

What (policy substance)

1. Policy Research

2. Policy Analysis/Evaluation

How (policy process)

3. Policy Process Research

4. Stakeholder Analysis

The capstone project may take any of these four modes and report formats will differ, especially between research reports and evaluation/analysis reports (left and right columns). Traditionally, MAPS capstones have followed the Policy Research mode and an academic report format. Capstone projects in which students partner with community or government agencies may be more likely to engage in Policy Analysis or perhaps Stakeholder Analysis, depending on the needs of the partner and students’ interests/expertise.

Before making a decision about format, students should consult with their faculty Capstone Advisor and, if applicable, internship supervisors. Provided they meet with the Capstone Advisor and second reader’s approval, formats such as PowerPoint presentations or videos that suit community or faculty partners’ needs can be appropriate. In general, however, Capstones will take the form of a written report.

Research Report Format

Policy Analysis or Evaluation Report Format