MLIS Capstone Option Guidelines

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER>> MLIS Capstone Registration Form

Student Guidelines for the Master of Library and Information Science Capstone Project (pdf)

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

The capstone project is offered in the Fall, Spring, or Summer terms in 12-week sections and, like the former proficiency exam, is taken on a pass/fail basis, and repeatable one time if not completed satisfactorily in the first attempt.  

Students register by the first day of instruction for the term in which they desire to complete the capstone project, the dates of which are found on the University Calendar.  First days of instruction for the relevant 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 terms are listed below:

  2014-2015 2015-2016
Fall 9/2/14 9/2/15
Spring 1/26/15 1/25/16
Summer 5/26/15 5/31/16

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 twelve-week 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.


Upon registration, D2L sites (for the first administration of the capstone project) and ultimately PAWS sections (linked to D2L sites) will be activated for each capstone project section.  SOIS 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.

The twelve-week structure is designed so that students will have completed their work in time to submit their projects to the SOIS Research Day, which will be held toward the end of the Fall and Spring terms.  Students completing the capstone project in Summer may submit their projects for the Fall Research Day.

Each capstone project phase is graded with either a pass or needs improvement. All of the landmark 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 any phase or revision within the timeframe will result in an automatic removal of the student from that terms’ 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.

Fall 2014:  For this registration only, students will register manually by completing the registration form.  In subsequent terms registration will be completed through PAWS.

Students will choose disciplinary areas and not instructor sections as there will be variation in instructor availability from term to term and some disciplinary areas can logically be assessed by any one of several instructors.

If a student did not pass the proficiency exam during the 2013-2014 or earlier academic years, there is one opportunity to re-take the exam in the Fall of 2014.  Subsequently, students who did not pass either the proficiency exam or the capstone project will have one opportunity to pass the capstone project, starting with the Spring 2015 term.

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

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.