Research and capstone projects in chemistry are meant to provide an in-depth experience in which
students draw on and build upon the various segments of their education. It can be one of the most
rewarding aspects of the degree as students grow both professionally and personally in ways not possible
in traditional classroom and laboratory courses. Students learn to design their own experiments and
make observations when the outcome is not already known. The student and professor work together to
discover new knowledge. Extensive hands-on use of research-quality equipment further develops students’
experimental skills and techniques. Students learn how to interpret results and draw conclusions from
their own experiments. Finally, presenting the results of their research completes the cycle of
science and permits others to build on their efforts. All USNA chemistry majors in the Class of 2004
and later are required to complete a capstone project (SC476) or a research course equivalent
(SC495 / 496).
The typical chemistry major will complete the 3-credit Capstone Project (SC476) in the spring semester
of his or her 1/C year. This course is preceded in the 1/C fall semester by the 1-credit Capstone
Preparation (SC471), in which students do the background literature search, learn to use the required
instrumentation and write the proposal for their project.
Alternatively students may replace SC476 with 3 credits of Research (SC495 / 496). This option allows
students to start a project sooner and the possibility of fulfilling a chemistry elective with a second
semester of Research. All midshipmen enrolling in Research must find a faculty member willing to act
as a project advisor and prepare a written proposal in consultation with the advisor. Once the advisor
and the reader have endorsed the proposal, it will be submitted to the Chemistry Department chair.
Midshipmen are required to submit an approved research proposal prior to registering for a Research course.
Submission of an approved research proposal will result in the SC471 requirement being waived.
General guidelines for the proposal and a recommended format are available at:
Writing a Proposal
An example of a student proposal in chemistry is available at the following website:
Each proposal should include a proposed budget. Once the research proposal has been approved, this budget will
be forwarded to the Departmental Financial Officer. If ONR midshipman research funds are being requested, the
budget will be forwarded to the Deputy Director of Research.
A written report is required for each semester of research. Information on writing a research report is available at:
A sample report cover page can be found at:
The report should include the following information: title, abstract, introduction, experimental details or theoretical
analysis, results, discussion, conclusions and summary. The research advisor will determine the exact format for the
report since preferences in formatting differ by subdiscipline in chemistry. The references should follow ACS formatting
guidelines as found in “The ACS Style Guide.”
The research advisor and faculty reader must endorse the report before forwarding the final version to the department chair.
The department chair must endorse this report before the last day of classes for that semester. Two copies of the report,
with endorsements, will be delivered to the Naval Academy Research Office prior to the first day of final examinations,
along with an electronic version in Microsoft Word on a 3.5” disk or CD.
A presentation is required for each semester of research. These presentations will be open to all faculty, staff and
midshipmen, as well as to invited guests from outside the Academy. Several formats for these are possible and the
advisor and the department will determine the exact requirement and scheduling. This information will be given to
the midshipman as early as possible in the semester. One possible format is the poster. A midshipman giving a poster
would produce a high quality visual presentation using resources readily available at the Academy, such as PowerPoint
and MSC. A twenty-minute oral summary of the research is also acceptable. Again, this type of presentation should
include high quality graphics. A question and answer period will be included for all presentations.
The faculty mentor will determine grades for a research project course. This mentor should seek outside input in
this decision. All required aspects of the course should be considered, including the final report and oral presentation.
Input from other faculty may be useful in evaluating these, particularly from the faculty reader.