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Center for Research Quality

Office of Research and Doctoral Services: Faculty:
Pre-Form-and-Style Review Checklist

Committee Faculty Pre-Form-and-Style Checklist

In the Form and Style Review, editors focus on the writing in capstone manuscripts: grammar, APA style, punctuation, cohesion, flow, tone, and clarity. Here is a checklist that may help you as you work with your mentees to proofread the document before sending it to committee review and ultimately Form and Style. This list is based on reoccurring areas that we see at the Form and Style Review. We have created a Form and Style Checklist for students but thought that faculty may also benefit from some guidelines to help prepare the document for the Writing Center editors’ Form and Style Review.

Feel free to share this list with your students. A full Form and Style Checklist for students is also located on the appropriate program page of our Doctoral Capstone Form and Style site.

Front Matter

  • Encourage students to use the appropriate template so that the document is properly formatted (e.g., correct pagination, margins, and headings).
  • Ensure the title is clear and meets Walden and APA guidelines
    • Focus on word economy and clarity.
    • The general maximum is 12 words.
    • Avoid beginning with a verb.
    • Avoid secondary titles introduced by a colon.
    • The study design/method is not necessary.
  • Make sure the abstract fulfills the Walden and APA guidelines and requirements, and that it is complete.

Body of the Document (Narrative Chapters or Sections)

  • Make sure the headings and subheadings match the program’s content checklist basic requirements.
  • Problem Statement and Purpose of the Study should be clear and aligned.
    • The reader should easily be able to locate a clear and concise articulation of the problem.
    • The reader should be able to do the same for the purpose of the study.
    • We often see the gap in the research identified as the problem.  We're hoping that faculty can also double check for this.
  • Research Questions and Hypotheses
    • Ensure that the research questions and hypotheses are presented in the same language, at each point in the study where they are presented.
  • Theoretical Basis/Conceptual Framework
    • Please be sure that the student has chosen the appropriate one for the study.
  • Methods and design should be articulated clearly and consistently throughout the document.
  • Definitions
    • Definitions may not be needed in the study. According to the program checklists, offer definitions only of concepts or variables, jargon, special uses of a word, or technical terms. The definitions need to be operational.
    • Do not include organizations, abbreviations, or software.
    • Do not offer definitions of words whose meaning is clear from a standard dictionary.
    • Any term defined earlier in the narrative text of the chapter/section should not be redefined here.
    • Be sure to make the definitions explicit, specific, and scholarly.
    • Definitions should include citations.
    • Set the term in italics, followed by a colon.
    • Use the paragraph indent. 
  • Assumptions, Scope/Delimitations, and Limitations 
    • Make sure that each are described accurately and that the appropriate discussion falls underneath each (e.g., we often see delimitations discussed as limitations).
    • Please also be sure that explanations are provided.  We often see sample size as a limitation, but the student has not explained why a smaller sample size is a limitation.
  • Significance of the Study
    • Ensure that the student has explained the significance of his or her work beyond the differences in how this study was conducted from how other studies were conducted.
  • Implications for social change
    • Students need to be clear about who, specifically (what population[s]), may benefit from these results and how, specifically, those individuals may benefit.
    • Emphasize language regarding how the study may be used as a tool for social change but does not cause social change.
  • Summary (and Transition) sections
    • These sections should include a summary of the main points of the chapter/section, beyond a list of the subsection headings.
    • Remember that the summary/conclusion should not contain new information and need not contain citations.
    • Include a preview of the next chapter.

Tables and Figures

  • Permission may be needed when reproducing or adapting a copyrighted table, figure, or data collection instrument.
    • Table or figure notes need to contain the full reference to the source. Indicate reprinted with permission, if appropriate, mentioning specific appendices where letters of permission appear.
    • In the case of a measurement tool or other instrument, permission to both use and reprint in the manuscript (if reprinted) need to be included in an appendix. Note that it is not necessary to reproduce a previously published measurement tool or instrument in the document, as there should already be citation and a reference entry for it.
    • It is up to the student to comply with U.S. copyright law and fair use law and determine whether permissions are required for materials used or reproduced in their capstone manuscript.


  • Make sure the CV and consent forms are deleted from appendices.
  • Ensure that the Letter of Cooperation/ Participation is deidentified/redacted if included.
  • Make sure that the IRB approval number is included somewhere in the document (generally in the methods chapter/section or an appendix).

Final Proofing

  • Students should conduct a final check for personal or identifying information and be sure all is removed or redacted. Check Dedication and Acknowledgments pages as well as the References section in addition to the narrative chapters/sections and appendices.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to check all references against citations for a 1:1 match.  Faculty may want to perform a spot check.
  • Be sure to run and examine the SafeAssign report. Avoid relying on the final score, but examine the document for matches.

Editor Role at the Form and Style Review

While the above areas cover items that we recommend students and faculty check before the Form and Style Review, the items listed below are some specific APA style rules that the editors will thoroughly cover in our reviews. Resources for all items are included as links.

  • Hyphenation and spelling (APA §6.12)
  • Line spacing (APA §2.21)
  • Lists (Seriation; APA §6.49-6.52)
  • Pagination and Margins (APA §2.18; 2.22)
  • Preliminary pages (APA §2.23-2.10)
  • Reference list (APA Chapter 10)
  • Tables and figures (APA Chapter 7)

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