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A Surname Project studies the Y-DNA Lineage of a particular surname.  Some may focus on a particular spelling of the surname, while others, like the Rutledge/Routledge Surname Project, are interested in any variation. There are also projects that study ethnic groups and historical locations. 

The Family Tree DNA blog has an excellent article on Big y-700 here: Why Big Y-700?

Autosomal DNA testing helped solve many questions about the first six generations of my Rutledge family as we moved them backward in time from Indiana, to Ohio and finally to Maryland in the 1600s.  But autosomal did not lead us to our immigrant ancestors.  

A male cousin agreed to upgrade his Y-DNA test to BigY-700 and I joined the Rutledge Surname Project. It still has not delivered that Immigrant Ancestor.  A sixth cousin tested, then others in the family... and we are slowly making progress. If you are a male Rutledge - please join the project and test! 

The science is fascinating, as what was once used for archaeology is being pushed and pulled to become genealogically significant.  Along the way, I have learned a great deal thanks to the Admins of the Project, some great Facebook groups, David Vance, and other genealogists who are working and blogging. 

I believe that there are two absolute MUSTS for a genealogist to achieve: 

I believe that EVERY Y-DNA tester should have a sourced lineage report.

I believe that EVERY lineage report should have DNA backup for each generation possible.