MLIS Capstone Option Guidelines

The Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) capstone project is a non-credit structured assessment that satisfies the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Graduate School requirement for a culminating experience for MLIS students in the School of Information Studies.  One of two possible culminating experiences, the other being a thesis, the capstone project is designed to provide an opportunity for a student to demonstrate mastery of research methods, analysis, problem-solving, critical thinking in research, project production, or the creation of a technical application.  The capstone project is completed at or toward the end of the MLIS program.

Capstone Project Structure

Upon registering, students select one of several primary professional or disciplinary areas within Library and Information Science.  While some of the possible focus areas are relatively specific, others are so broad that they may accommodate topics that do not fall into more specific categories.  The areas include the following, but may change in subsequent terms, depending on the needs to clearly accommodate student interests:
•    Academic libraries
•    Archival studies
•    Children’s/YA services
•    Information policy
•    Information retrieval
•    Information services
•    Information technology
•    Information organization
•    Public libraries
•    School libraries

Instructors will provide feedback for each phase of the project at intervals within the term:

Phase 1. Research Problem and Outcome

The first phase is the identification of a research problem and an outcome, which could be an article, paper, conference poster, technical product, or other potential project, and a timeline:
a.    a formal problem statement;
b.    a description of an appropriate outcome, given the nature of the problem being addressed and the appropriateness of a specific deliverable; and
c.    a timeline that includes the 5 formal phases of the term and, to the extent that it is feasible, smaller demarcations within one or more of the phases.

Phase 2. Annotated Resource List:

The compilation and annotation of a list of relevant resources:
a.    Depending on the nature of the project, a list of relevant primary and secondary sources, including research or development guides appropriate to the task; and
b.    brief annotations that indicate to other researchers the nature of the resources and their relevance to the project, whether as information sources or guides to project development.

Phase 3. Method Description:

A description of the research approach, analysis, or other method of addressing the problem.

Phase 4. Impact Statement:

An impact or evaluation statement that includes the following:
a.    a. compact restatement of the issue or problem being addressed;
b.    an action statement outlining 1) why it is an issue or problem and 2) how the student’s research or project helps resolve the problem; and
c.    a statement addressing the “so what?” factor of the research or project, including possible quantitative impacts (increased circulation of a specialized collection, for instance) or qualitative results (increased sensitivity or awareness of gender bias in subject headings).

Phase 5. Outcome

A poster, article, website, application, or other deliverable.

Capstone Administration

Upon registration, D2L sites (for the first administration of the capstone project) will be activated for each capstone project section.  The Chair of the Proficiency Committee (currently Tom Walker) will communicate with the students in advance of the first instructional day of the term to orient them to the procedure, provide them with links to supporting documentary materials, and answer potential questions in advance of the term.

Each capstone project phase is graded "pass" or "needs improvement."  All phases must be completed by the deadlines assigned. If a student does not satisfactorily complete the capstone project, there is one additional opportunity to try, provided the second attempt does not replicate the topic of the first. At any time, academic decisions may be appealed according to SOIS and UWM policies.  The “Step 1” appeal would be considered by the Proficiency Committee.

If a student receives a needs improvement assessment on a project phase, feedback and guidance will be provided by the instructor within 72 hours. The student must submit a revised document within the next 72 hours timeframe. Failure to complete phases or revisions within the timeframe will result in the removal of the student from that term's capstone project.

Prerequisites: Before beginning the term of the capstone project, students shall have completed the four core courses and 60% of their MLIS coursework.

Students register by completing the registration form and will be prompted to choose disciplinary areas, which will be used to match students and instructors.  If a student would like to request a match with a specific faculty member, there will be a note field in which to indicate that request.  Unfortunately, it will not always be possible to match students with specific instructors.  Most faculty are conversant with a variety of research methods and professional specialties and should be able to provide helpful feedback through the phases.

If a student is registering for the capstone project in the student's final semester and not enrolled in any other courses, the student must enroll in INFOST 888, Candidate for Degree, in order to graduate. 

Capstone Project Schedule (Fall, 2015)

Sept. 02
Registration Deadline: Student initiates
contact with assigned faculty about potential topic

Sept. 09
Phase 1 due
Sept. 23
Phase 2 due
Oct. 07
Phase 3 due
Oct. 21
Phase 4 due
Nov. 11
Phase 5 due

MLIS Capstone Project - Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find information about the capstone project?

Current information will be maintained on the SOIS website

Can I do the capstone in the same term in which I take a core course?

Core courses are designed to be taken at the beginning of one’s degree and the capstone at the end.  In an exceptional case, and by appeal, a student may do the capstone in the same term as a core course if it is the student’s final semester.

I see that I have to register for the capstone. Is there a fee involved?

No, there is no fee for the capstone itself. However, if a student is doing the capstone without being enrolled in any other courses, it would be necessary to enroll in 888, “Candidate for Degree” (for one credit only) in order to have enrolled student status. Commencing with Spring, 2015, the enrollment for the capstone will be through PAWS (no-credit, no-tuition).

Can my disability be accommodated for the capstone project?

SOIS has worked very well with the Accessibility Resource Center (ARC): . It is a professional service unit that assists students with disabilities by identifying appropriate accommodations for a variety of situations, including coursework, exams, and other activities. Please contact that office to consult with them about the process. They, students, and SOIS will work together to identify ways in which potential accommodations could be made.

What happens if I don’t pass the capstone?

We have structured the five phases of the experience to provide feedback along the way so that the passing rate is maximized. If problems develop and it can’t be completed or if the final project is not satisfactory for some reason and the capstone is not passed, there is one opportunity to retake it in a subsequent term.

Whom may I contact with questions about the capstone or its procedure?

The Chair of the Proficiency Committee, currently Tom Walker (