DNP Capstone Proposal Template

Appendix 3

DNP Capstone Proposal Template

Full Title of the Proposal

Author’s Name (no professional initials)

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, School of Nursing

Capstone Chair: Type your advisor’s name here

Capstone Committee Member: Type your committee member’s name here

Date of Submission: Month, Day, Year

Page 11 of 11

Table of Contents

Abstract 24

Introduction and Background 25

Problem Statement 25

Objectives and Aims 25

Review of Literature 26

Theoretical Model 27

Project and Study Design 27

Setting and Resources 28

Location of Group I 28

Location of Group II 28

Study Population 28

Sources of Data 28

Data Analysis 28

Quality 28

Ethics and Human Subjects Protection 29

Timeframes or Timeline 29

Budget 29

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Study 29

Conclusion 29

References 31

Appendix 32

Basic APA, 6 th ed., Citation Styles 32

This template is a guide to writing a capstone project proposal in APA Style, 6th edition; not for a systematic review proposal. It provides the necessary sections, headings, and subheadings required in a proposal, as well as the line and paragraph spacing, page breaks, page numbering, and referencing styles. It is formatted with one inch top, bottom, left, and right margins; Times New Roman font in 12 point; double-spaced; aligned flush left; and paragraphs indented 5-7 spaces. The page number appears one inch from the right edge on the first line of each page. There should be two spaces between sentences. Without changing the formatting, insert your own text into each template section. This section of the template provides an example of what an abstract would look like. An abstract is a brief (approximately 250 words) one-paragraph summary of the contents of the proposal. The abstract, typically written last, includes an overview of the proposed project’s background and review of literature, purpose, method, results, and conclusion. It is non-evaluative, that is, does not contain personal comments. It is not indented nor does it contain citations. Keywords, such as those below, are words you used to perform database searches for the proposal. For more information about APA Style, see the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.), the APA Style web site found at, and the Purdue Owl Writing Center website found at


Keywords : APA style, sixth edition, publication manual

Introduction and Background
In this introductory section, write a few paragraphs that give an overview of your topic and background information. Tell why the study problem is important. Build a case for the need for the project that you propose to perform. Support this with findings from the literature, include relevant statistics, and cite them according to APA Style, 6th ed. As O’Leary (2010) says, “the main job of this section is “to … convince your readers that the problem you want to address is significant and worth exploring” (p. 64).

All source material used in this proposal must be documented in the body of the paper by citing the authors and dates of the sources (See Appendix A for basic citation guidelines). The full reference to each citation must appear on a separate reference page(s) entitled ‘References’. The reference pages at the end of this template provide examples of types of references frequently used in academic papers. Reference entries are typed in hanging indent format, meaning that the first line of each reference is set flush left and subsequent lines are indented.

Problem Statement
Your introduction section should smoothly transition into your problem statement. It should flow logically from the information you provided. Include your inquiry question that will provide direction for your work. Explain your approach to the problem and how your approach will address it.

Objectives and Aims
Explain the aims and objectives of the project. According to O’Leary (2010), proposals have one overarching aim that captures what you hope to achieve through your project; whereas, a set of objectives, which are a set of more specific goals, supports that aim. Aims and objectives are often written in bullet points as ‘to’ statements, such as, ‘to’ develop, ‘to’ identify, ‘to’ measure, ‘to’ explain, ‘to’ compare.

Review of Literature
The goal of a review of literature is to present an in-depth, current state of knowledge about your particular topic. Rather than just summarizing and listing research studies performed on your topic, summarize and then synthesize the key concepts of the literature you have read. Identify any major trends, patterns, or gaps you may have found in the literature and identify any relationships among studies. In general, there is a five-year span from the present for the date of literature you should use except for an older, landmark study, which should be identified as such.

Think of a review of literature as a puzzle that you will put together with individual pieces from various sources of literature in order to reveal a whole picture of the state of knowledge about your topic. The review of literature for your proposal should provide the context for your proposal and your future capstone project.

When you begin to write your narrative, define your topic and provide relevant statistical information, followed by historical and current background information. Organize your main findings by using subheadings called Level 2 headings, which are typed in bold face type, in upper and lower case letters, and typed flush with the left side of the paper. Examples of Level 2 headings can be found in this paper under Project and Methods Design. Use Level 3 headings to further subdivide topics. Level 3 headings are indented, typed in lowercase letters, in boldface, indented, and followed by a period. The APA Manual or the Purdue Owl Writing Center website provides more information about all five levels of headings in APA Style, 6th edition.

Build a strong case for your topic’s importance and the need for a capstone project that will address the issues surrounding it. Explain how you propose to address these issues with your capstone project. Support your case with citations from the literature.

Next, write your findings from the literature central to your topic. Avoid describing a series of studies. Use quotes sparingly and only to emphasize or explain an important point. Also, do not make broad statements about the conclusiveness of research studies, either positive or negative. Be objective in your presentation of the facts. Each paragraph should begin with a thesis statement and describe only one key. The idea in the next paragraph should logically flow from the content of its predecessor.

Conclude the review of literature with a concise summary of your findings and provide a rationale for conducting your capstone, based on your findings.

Theoretical Model
In this section, name and define the theoretical or conceptual model that underpins your proposal and future capstone project. Place a diagram of the model at the end of the paper, after the Reference pages and refer to the diagram in this section.

Project and Study Design
In this section, clearly explain your project design (type of study) and the method you will use to obtain the desired outcomes of your project. Use the future tense to explain what you will do in your capstone. Convince the reader that your approach is practical and will lead to credible answers to your posed inquiry question. Write a paragraph describing each of the following subheadings as they apply to your project.

Setting and Resources
Describe where the project will take place and any resources necessary for the project. If you need to further subdivide any Level 2 Heading, use a Level 3 Heading as shown below.

Location of Group I
Location of Group II
Study Population
Describe the study participants, all people involved, and the role they will play, as well as the sampling, the sampling size, and selection of sample or recruitment strategies, if applicable. Report the eligibility and exclusion criteria. Describe the groups with emphasis on characteristics (variables) that may have bearing on the interpretation of results.

Sources of Data
Describe the sources and collection of data, its management and the instruments you will use.

Data Analysis
Fully address the statistical planning, if applicable, and the methods of collection such as surveys, interviews, or document analysis. Confer with your advisor as to whether you should construct a data collection/analysis table or a table of evidence. Refer to each table in the text, but put the table after the reference pages.

Discuss the mechanisms you will use to assure the quality of the study, for example, the control of bias or the safe storage of data.

Ethics and Human Subjects Protection
Discuss ethical considerations and use of the Institutional Review Board, as well as any risks and benefits, if applicable.

Timeframes or Timeline
Discuss the timetable for completion of the project.

Provide a full account of costs and who will bear them, if applicable.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Study
Confer with your chair as to whether you should include your thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of the study.

Write your conclusions here. Once you complete the entire proposal, the Table of Contents will be created automatically if you format all your headings with Microsoft Word Heading Levels 1, 2, or 3 Styles, using the formatting toolbar. Each version of Microsoft Word is different; therefore, you need to familiarize yourself with the Microsoft Styles on your computer in order to create heading levels which automatically format into a table of contents in this document. DO NOT simply center and embolden your text to create a Level 1 heading. To view the current state of the Table of Contents and then make changes and update it, first select all text with keystroke Ctrl-A, then press the F9 key. Then, click on “Update the entire table” and view the table.

[As previously mentioned, all literature cited in the proposal must be referenced in APA Style, 6th edition, on a separate reference page(s). The following list shows the more commonly used references. For more information on how to reference, refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.), the APA Style web site found at, and the Purdue Owl Writing Center website found at

Note that appendices appear after the reference page(s). They are used to present detailed information that adds to the body of the paper, for example, sample questionnaires, tables, or figures. Tables usually show numerical values or textual information arranged in an orderly display of columns and rows. Any type of illustration other than a table is a figure. Figures present data in the forms of graphs, charts, maps, drawings, and photographs.

If your manuscript has only one appendix, label it Appendix in italics. If it has more than one, label each appendix with a capital letter, for example, Appendix A, Appendix B, according to the order in which you refer to it in your text. Label each appendix with a title, but refer to it in the text by its label, for example, (see the Appendix for basic APA, 6th edition, citation styles.

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Anderson, A.K., Christoff, K., Panitz, D., DeRosa, E., & Gabrieli, J.D.E. (2003). Neural correlates of the automatic processing of threat facial signals. Journal of Neuroscience, 23(2), 5267-5633.

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (1991). Title of book chapter or entry. In A. Editor, B. Editor, & C. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (pp. xxx-xxx). St. Louis: Mosby.

Chinn, P.L., & Kramer, M.K. (2004). Integrated knowledge development in nursing (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Clay, R. (2008, June). Science vs. ideology: Psychologists fight back about the misuse of research. Monitor on Psychology, 39(6). Retrieved from

New child vaccine gets funding boost. (2001). Retrieved March 21, 2001, from

O’Leary, Z. (2010). The Essential Guide to Doing Your Research Project. Los Angeles: Sage.

Ross, D.L. & Hvizdash, S. (2002). Integrating religious practices in home health care: A case study of collaborative between the health care system and the Orthodox Jew. Home Health Care Management & Practice, 14(6), 457-460. 10.1177/108482202236699

Schiraldi, G. R. (2003). The post-traumatic stress disorder sourcebook: A guide to healing. (Adobe Digital Edition version). Doi: 10.1036/10071393722

Smith, M. (2001). Writing a successful paper. The Trey Research Monthly, 53(1), 149-150.

Basic APA, 6th ed., Citation Styles
Type of Citation

Appearance: Beginning of sentence; first mention in text

Appearance: Beginning of sentence; subsequent mention in text


End of sentence; first mention in text


End of sentence; subsequent mention in text

One work/ one author

Jones (2007)

Jones (2007)

(Jones, 2007)

(Jones, 2007)

One work/

two authors

Jones and Allen (1999)

Jones and Allen (1999)

(Jones & Allen, 1999)

(Jones & Allen, 1999)

One work/ three authors

Jones, Stutz, and Zay (1999)

Jones et al. (1999)

(Jones, Ramirez, & Zay, 1999)

(Jones et al., 1999)

One work/

four authors

Jones, Stutz, Zay, and Walsh (2006)

Jones et al. (2006)

(Jones, Stutz, Zay, & Walsh, 2006)

(Jones et al., 2006)

One work/

five authors

Jones, Allen, Stutz, Ramirez, and Zay, (2008)

Jones et al. (2008)

(Jones, Allen, Stutz, Ramirez, & Zay, 2008)

(Jones et al., 2008)

One work/

six authors

Stutz et al. (2005)

Stutz et al. (2005)

(Stutz et al., 2005)

(Stutz et al., 005)

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