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Identify Your Capstone Research Problem: Harnessing Your Motivation to Bypass Writer’s Block

Tap into your motivation, access what you already know, and consider where you might need more information. Finalizing your research problem is an important step in your doctoral journey, and this tutorial will help you get there.
Identify Your Capstone Research Problem

Strategies for the Doctoral Capstone


Interactive Module on Doctoral Writing: Developing Longer Writing Projects

As you progress through your program, you will take on longer and more complex writing projects, which will require more thoughtful planning, greater collaboration with your faculty, and more revision than you may be used to.
Developing Longer Writing Projects

Reviewing the Literature

The Role of the Literature Review

Your literature review gives readers an understanding of the scholarly research on your topic.

In your literature review you will:

  • demonstrate that you are a well-informed scholar with expertise and knowledge in the field by giving an overview of the current state of the literature
  • find a gap in the literature, or address a business or professional issue, depending on your doctoral study program; the literature review will illustrate how your research contributes to the scholarly conversation
  • provide a synthesis of the issues, trends, and concepts surrounding your research

We want to help you maintain the vision of the big picture. It’s easy to lose sight of this when you’re doing your research, following various threads of interest, sometimes getting bogged down in the details. The literature review is not a comprehensive history of your topic, but a way to provide context to your reader about research that has preceded your study. 

Be aware that the literature review is an iterative process. As you read and write initial drafts, you will find new threads and complementary themes, at which point you will return to search, find out about these new themes, and incorporate them into your review.

The purpose of this guide is to help you through the literature review process. Take some time to look over the resources in order to become familiar with them. The tabs on the left side of this page have additional information.

Library guide to Capstone Literature Reviews

More Resources:

Writing the Premise and Prospectus

Part of becoming an independent academic writer means knowing the skills you need to develop in your writing process as well as the resources available to help you develop them. The time you spend working with faculty to develop your preproposal document(s) is also a perfect opportunity to reflect on your writing skills and what further work you need to do to prepare yourself to write the proposal and final study.

Preproposal Starter Kit

Writing the Proposal

Working on the proposal means that students have a solid topic approved by their committee and can move on to developing the details of their study. This kit focuses on writing the introduction, reviewing the literature, and proposing research design and method for the study. All Walden proposals, whether from professional doctorate degrees or PhD degrees, cover three main areas: introduction to the study, literature review, and discussion of the research design and method.

Proposal Writing Kit

Interactive Module to Doctoral Writing: Synthesizing the Literature

As you develop your research proposal, you'll read the scholarship surrounding the focus of your research, and you'll need to synthesize what you find in a literature review.
Synthesizing the Literature

Writing the Final Study

Working on the final study means that the committee has approved a doctoral student’s proposal, Walden IRB has approved the application to conduct the study, and the student has collected data. At this stage, students are ready to begin writing the final chapters/sections of the capstone. All Walden capstones, whether from professional programs or PhD programs, cover five main areas: introduction, literature review (or the background and context, for students doing a DNP project), research method/design, analysis/findings, and conclusions/applications/implications for social change. Every student should check his or her program checklist or rubric for specific content guidance, as different programs vary in the required number of chapters or sections in the final capstone document.

This kit will help students more specifically with how to describe the results, format tables and figures to display findings, discuss social change, and reflect on the research process and conclusions.

Final Study Kit

Preparing for the Form and Style Review

These resources are for doctoral students who have completed their final doctoral capstone documents and are preparing them for final approval prior to graduation.

This kit focuses on what doctoral students need as they prepare for the form and style (F&S) review. It includes information on what the editors check for at the F&S stage, common errors and how to revise them, the checklists and how to use them, and resources for double-checking references and citations.

Form and Style Review Kit: