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The Submissions

Information on content and formatting specifications


Sub One

Sub one has two parts, the topic analysis and annotated bibliography. The purpose of these two components together is to establish that your topic is appropriate for the Capstone requirements and that there is enough library research on it to support your project.


Annotated Bibliography

I am assuming that, as English Writing, Literature, or Journalism specialists, you've done annotated bibliographies before. However, if you have not, please do not hesitate to ask me for help. Use MLA formatting guidelines. Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL) is a helpful resource. A good guideline for length is that approximately two entries per page. I am looking for the following information: what is this source? Who wrote it? Why should I listen to the author/s? What is the thesis and what are the main points? How will you use this source?


Note: Your handbook, on page 36, gives you a list of required types of sources. I am not strict about this. I'd prefer that you use the most relevant sources. If you have a question about evaluating sources, please let me know.


Topic Analysis

Use the "Sample Foundational Research Outline" that begins on page 38 in the handbook and fill in the blanks.


Sub Two

Sub two is the part where you translate the components--the topic, the context, the research, etc.--into a preliminary narrative. Where sub one simply reproduced the information that you found in your research, sub two interprets the information. This is not necessarily the structure that your final narrative will take, but it will help you develop the story as it is emerging.

This is one of the areas in which our section differs pretty dramatically from the traditional Capstone format. I recommend that you use your handbook chapter on sub two backwards. Start with page 55's list of tasks. Then, if you need more explanation or clarification, look back at the earlier pages with the individual headings. There is no mandatory page count. Just make sure that you've explained the debate clearly, so that a non-expert can understand it. This should work as an answer to your friends' question "what is your Capstone about." Your handbook says


"Interpret the research data, i.e., tell what they mean rather than reproducing them."  [although, sic, I'd have referred to the mass of data as a collective singular here despite the fact that the word "data" is plural.]


Your sub two should include each of the following. These are headings and will correspond to a paragraph or more.

  • Introduction: This four to five sentence-ish paragraph should double as an abstract and should include the social problem, the proposed policy, the opposing sides, and a forecasting sentence that begins something like "This Capstone project will investigate the question of (your normative question)."

  • Exigence: Explain why this topic is important to discuss at this time (Kairos = occasion) and provide factual evidence to support this claim.

  • Key Terms (list): Write a list of key terms and definitions (dictionary, other source, or your own) that your reader will need to understand to comprehend your narrative.

  • Scope: What will and will not be covered in this project.

  • Narrative: Using your topic analysis outline as a guide, write a narrative description of the debate over this policy. This component will be the longest part of Sub Two.

  • Plan of Work: Explain what you plan to do for the rest of the semester to produce your final Capstone paper. Divide your work into individual units and compare them to the time period. An example of this would be to write that your project could be divided into four parts--research, interviews, writing, and editing--and that you planned to do each over the course of two weeks. (That's totally fiction, btw.) *Plan of work format appears below.*

  • Works Cited: You will acknowledge your source material at this time, mainly just so that you remember where the information you are using originated. Use standard in-text and parenthetical citations and write a Works Cited list (MLA style).

*How to write a Plan of Work*

A work plan is a detailed accounting of how an individual or group proposes going about accomplishing a specific task, approaching a project or pitching a new business concept. Sometimes referred to as a “statement of work,” a work plan generally includes an introduction or overview of a project or job, a breakdown of how individual project-related tasks will be accomplished, a timeline for completion and cost projections for implementation.


For Capstone, you will be planning how you'll accomplish the necessary tasks over the course of the rest of the semester. First, make a list of everything you need to do to complete the entire project. Then make a list of the days/weeks left in the semester with landmarks like when each submission is due. I handwrite mine on opposite pages of a legal pad (with several revisions): tasks on the left and timeline on the right. Once you feel like you've got the work distributed evenly over the time period, you have the content for your Plan of Work.

Your Plan of Work should be informal, which means that it will be written like a letter from you to me. It should follow roughly this template.


Dear Beth,


Paragraph 1. State your purpose: something along the lines of "I am writing to present an overview of my plan of work to complete my Capstone project for the summer semester of 2015. I will need to accomplish X, X, and X (tasks) over the course of X (time/weeks/days) and feel that I have the resources to complete the project well and on time. This is a formality and doesn't need to be fancy--just the facts, most of which I already know.


Paragraph 2. Bold Heading "Project Overview." This explains very briefly what your Capstone is about and will look very much like your abstract.


Paragraph 3. Bold Heading "Tasks" or "Objectives." Just like it says, this is a list of everything you need to do, eg, research, contact interview subjects, upload files to, etc.

Paragraph 4. Bold Heading "Work Completed." What have you already done?


Paragraph 5. Bold Heading "Work Remaining." Everything else


Paragraph 6. Bold Heading "Discussion." You may conclude one of three options: you are on schedule, behind schedule, or ahead of schedule. If you are on schedule, tell me how you plan to stay that way. If you are behind, tell me how you plan to catch up. If you are ahead, convince me that you aren't skipping any steps and how you'll continue to stay on schedule. All of these conclusions will discuss the use of resources such as The Writing Center, Reference Librarians, interview subjects, etc, and any obstacles, current or foreseeable, that you are dealing with or may encounter.


Paragraph 7. Bold Heading "Conclusion." Like your opening paragraph, this is largely a formality, restating things with both already know. Again, something like "I am confident that with my resources and time management strategies I will complete this task on time...." You always want to leave your reader feeling confident in your ability to approach the rest of the project with realistic and achieveable goals. Close with "sincerely" or something otherwise standard.


Because we are already a couple of weeks into the semester, this Plan of Work is very much like a Progress Report. Both of these are very common business documents. Having these as writing samples will enhance your portfolio. Also, I have found that forcing my students to do them increases the odds that they'll finish on time without having a nervous breakdown.


Sub 3

So far you have only reported the facts. Sub 3 is your opportunity to analyze the arguments on both sides. You will evaluate the arguments critically and ethically. Our section will differ from the traditional Capstone sections in that ours will be in worksheet format and will not include a tentative revised position.


Here's the template. Just copy, paste, and fill in the blanks.


Sub 4

Sub 4 is what Capstone calls your "experiential component." This means that you will conduct original, primary research through first person interviews with experts and stakeholders and you'll act in support of your conclusion. While the standard Capstone format requires students to interview at least one person representing each side of the controversy, I encourage you to interview more in order to flesh out an engaging narrative. The two required interviews must be with people who have the ability to affect change--think legislators, activists, lobbyists, etc--rather than just "stakeholders," by which we mean people who are affected by the policy in question.


Examples of civic engagement, the acting in support of your conclusion, include presenting testimony, volunteering with a group, or informing an appropriate audience. I encourage you, as writers, to use your skill set. Students in this section have written brochures and information sheets, created and shared video and audio recordings, and built websites. As ENGW and ENGL majors, you have the advantage of training in appeals to audience, purpose, and occasion.


What to turn in


Each interview should have around six questions (not including follow-ups) and questions should be open-ended so that your answers are not just yes and no. Record your interview; most people use their phones for this. Be sure that your subject understands that she or he will be recorded, but only for your reference. Write a narrative essay about your experience of talking with your subject rather than just a Q and A.


Civic Engagement

Go. Do your thing. Write about it, in particular how the experience affects or changes your understanding of the topic. I encourage you to document this experience as extensively as possible in as many modes as possible--audio, video, photos, flyers--anything you could include in your final project to illustrate what action on this topic looks like.


Sub 5

Good news: you get to do this piece twice. First, you'll submit a rough/first draft, which I will then return with my comments, which comments we will discuss in person at individual conferences before you write your final revision. Then, you'll write your final revision, compile the components into a single document using your previous submissions as appendices, upload a version to, and submit a hard copy to me.


Here are the specifications for the final submission. Use the typeface Cambria or a similar serif type throughout. Use 12-point type for body text, bold for headings if you use them, and 18-point bold for titles. Spacing is 1.5, margins standard (1"), text is standard alignment (left justified with ragged right margins, not fully justified), and paragraph breaks are indicated with white space; just hit enter and don't add an extra vertical space. The text you are reading right now is an example of this kind of paragraphing. 


Save the following components to a single document.

1. Cover Sheet. Your cover sheet should have the title centered at the top of the page (bold 18-point font). It will be your fully developed normative question. Drop down four lines and write (still centered) Prepared by [your name], next line Submitted to [my name], next line CAPS 4360.12, next line Summer 2015. At the bottom of the page, your abstract should appear, standard left aligned. Type the word ABSTRACT (all caps, left aligned) on the line above it and place a horizontal line between ABSTRACT and the text. See notes below on how to write your abstract.*

2. Table of contents (TOC) with page numbers should appear on the right facing page (hint: do this after you've got everything else on the correct pages. Word will do this for you. Google how-to if you don't know how.) Note: in order to start all new components on the right facing page, like chapters in a novel, you'll need to insert a blank page in between your cover and your TOC.

3. Cover sheet for final submission. At the top of the page center your title (same as on cover), skip a line, and write Capstone Final Submission. It should look something like this:

Should the Texas Legislature Adopt House Bill #XXX, in Order to Protect Citizens from Illegal Search and Seizure of Assets?

Capstone Final Submission


4. Notes: This is your end notes page. The notes should correspond to the superscript numerals you've inserted in your Sub 5 that explain where the information you've just referenced came from and should lead your reader to bibliographic entries or earlier submissions for more information. Make a parenthetical notation like (see Johnson in Works Cited for the data on the number of women incarcerated for drug use in the 1990s) or your can explain "My extended Kantian analysis of the ethical implications of this policy appear in Sub 3, page 42." If it's just a quote, you can do "Smith 543."

5. Works Cited. These are only the sources that you reference in your notes.

6. Bibliography. This is everything you've read on the subject. It's your Works Cited plus everything else. These become really important in grad school to demonstrate that you are sufficiently familiar with the academic conversation about the topic. You may have, for example, used things in your Annotated Bib that you didn't use in your final submission, but that informed the way you think about the topic. Those go here.

7. Cover sheet "Previous Submissions."

8. Cover sheet "Submission One."

9. Sub One.

10. Cover sheet "Submission Two."

11. Sub Two.

12. you get the idea--cover sheet and sub. In order. Through sub 5, rev 1. You don't have to redo it, just put it in there.

13: Cover sheet: "Appendices."

14. Appendices. Appendices are anything else and each one should get its own cover sheet. Appendices will include transcripts or notes from interviews that you didn't include in your formal sub 4, evidence of your Civic Engagement, images, or documents. These might include memos, blue prints, policy statements, official documents, etc. Anything your reader might want to know more about.