General Guidelines and Instructions

Writing a Proposal

1. Choose a topic. Read previous WUC programs to get an idea of the range of topics at a typical conference.

2. Choose type of presentation.

  • Individual: A single presentation, often PowerPoint, given by one individual. Total time: 15 minutes; 12-minute presentation, three-minute Q&A.
  • Joint: A single presentation, often PowerPoint, shared by two individuals. Total time: 15 minutes; 12-minute presentation (six minutes for each presenter, three-minute Q&A.
  • Poster: Typical conference-style large-format, printed poster. All posters are presented during a one-hour poster session. Presenters must be on hand to discuss posters and answer questions from attendees. Additional guidelines for posters can be found here.
  • Performance: A single presentation that typically combines research and demonstration. Total time: 15 minutes; 12-minute presentation, three-minute Q&A
  • Student-organized group presentation: A group of 4-6 students who present a single topic or theme.  Total time: 15 minutes for the entire group, including Q&A, if they are presenting on a single, specific project such as "blue moon" or "State of the State for Washington Latinos." If they are presenting with individual proposals/projects that have a common topic or theme, then typically, if there are 4 individuals each one will get about 3 minutes to speak, with 3 minutes afterwards for Q&A. Additional guidelines for group presentations can be found here.

3. Secure approval from a faculty sponsor.

All proposals must be sponsored by a faculty member. Sponsors will read proposals, provide feedback and help with revisions. Your sponsor may be someone other than your research supervisor.

Student-organized group presentations require only one sponsor for the entire group of presenters. Sponsors will receive email notices via the WUC online application system. The notices will instruct them about actions they need to take for the successful submission of your proposal. Remind your sponsor of these alerts.

4. Craft a proposal (150 words maximum).

Your proposal will become the program note printed in the WUC program. Write with a formal tone. Describe your work and its significance. Because your study might not be completed by the deadline for submissions, results aren't required in your proposal.

Begin with a general statement that puts your research question in a context. Briefly provide background (what is already known about the topic), explain what aspect of the topic you plan to study, and conclude by summarizing the significance of your results. (How does your research add to what's known about the topic? What is a recommended course of action based on your findings? Why should your reader care about your research?)

Keep in mind that your audience is the general Whitman community. Define highly specialized technical vocabulary. Do not use acronyms in first reference. Your presentation or poster rather than your proposal should include the highly technical vocabulary necessary to convey your meaning to a more knowledgeable audience, and is the appropriate place for you to present your formal scientific abstract. What you are submitting with your proposal in the online application system is a program note designed to attract a general audience to your presentation.

Proofread your proposal, and proofread it again. Review it with your sponsor.

There is a 150-word limit on proposals; the title is not included in this limit.

If your project received internal (Whitman) funding (Rall, Perry, Abshire, etc.) or external support, or is related to a study abroad program you participated in, you should acknowledge this in the text box provided for this purpose which is underneath the Abstract text box titled "Research Funding Source or OCS program." For example: "This project was funded by a Perry Summer Research Award from Whitman College."

All proposals involving human subjects must be approved by the Whitman's Institutional Review Board in advance of conducting your research, whether conducted on campus or abroad. You must have an IRB number in order to present your research at the conference. For information about the approval process contact the IRB directly at as soon as you begin to plan your project.

When you receive your IRB number, add it to your online proposal.

In general, the WUC Committee accepts one and only one submission per student. Students may participate in the poster session as well as giving an individual presentation. Refer to Guidelines for Panels.

Submitting a Proposal

1. Deadlines

Proposals are due by midnight Dec. 19, 2014. Submit your application online through the WUC Online Application System.

Revisions to proposals are due by 5:00 p.m., Jan. 30, 2015.

2. Sponsor Approval and Revisions

When you submit a proposal online, an email is automatically sent to your faculty sponsor. Your sponsor will approve your proposal or request revisions.

You will receive an email informing you of your sponsor's action. If necessary, return to your proposal online and make revisions. Submit your revised proposal. Your sponsor will receive another email and will either approve your proposal or request further revisions.

Deadlines are your responsibility. Check your email and the status of your online application. Make revisions as soon as possible. If you notice that your proposal has not been approved, email your sponsor.

3. WUC Committee Approval and Revisions

The WUC Committee begins its review process after all proposals are approved by sponsors and submitted by deadline.

Proposals will be marked "Accepted" or "Accepted with Revisions." The latter means that revisions to the proposal were made by the committee in accepting it. In rare cases, the committee will elect to reject a proposal. In each case your faculty sponsor will be notified. Proposals accepted with revisions do not require faculty re-approval.

Comments and decisions made by the Organizing Committee are based on a review of the written proposal, not on the substance of the project. Typically, requests for revisions are for reasons of an unclear description of the project; imprecise definitions of terms; insufficient methodology, or failure to note the significance of the project and the means by which research results will be reported.

Final revisions are due by 5:00 p.m., Jan. 30, 2015.

Next Steps

1. Final Editing for Printed Program

About a week after the deadline for final revisions, you will receive through campus mail a hard-copy proof of your proposal. This is the final opportunity for you to proof your proposal for any small errors. Minor changes only may be made to your proof.

These proofs must be signed and returned -- whether or not any changes are made -- to the Office of Fellowships and Grants (Reid Campus Center, rooms 231 and 232) by 5:00 p.m., Feb. 6, 2015. (You will receive an email reminding you of this deadline.)

If your proof is late, your proposal will not appear in the conference program.

2. Work on Project

Continue to work on your project. Post deadlines in bold print on your bulletin board.

In most cases, you will need images for your presentation, whichever type you choose. Take photos and collect images as you go. If you are working in a lab, take pictures of your set-up throughout the process. Important: Have someone take a picture of you at work. Don't wait until the project is finished.

Make a folder on your hard drive titled "WUC Information" and fill it with anything that might figure into your project or the conference in general. Save images as .jpg or .png at the highest possible resolution.

Save links to important references, snippets of information, relevant quotes and images. Make a Word document titled "Project Information" (within the "WUC Information" folder), and store all items in this document.

3. Preparation of Presentation

The next steps depend on the type of presentation you have chosen. Detailed instructions for poster presentations can be found here and instructions for student-organized group presentations are here.

4. Coaching and Technical Support Sessions

In late February the Undergraduate Conference schedule will be set. You will be informed of the time and location of your presentation.

You also will be notified of coaching sessions for tips on successful oral presentations and of tech sessions for assistance with equipment.

Coaching and tech sessions will occur in the days immediately preceding the conference and are mandatory.

All presenters are required to attend a coaching session and a tech session. (There will be separate sessions for poster presenters.)

Day of the Conference

The 17th Annual Whitman Undergraduate Conference will take place in April 7, 2015.

The conference runs from 9:00-5:00 and is divided into four general sessions and a poster session. General sessions run approximately 75 minutes. The poster session occupies an hour (1:00-2:00) after lunch. Presenters in each of the four general sessions will be assigned a room and time slot. Presentations are loosely grouped by topic or discipline. These groupings are necessarily broad and do not suggest a close connection between the individual presentations.

All posters are displayed in the foyer of Cordiner Hall.

Each 15-minute presentation comprises a 12-minute presentation and a three-minute question-and-answer period. In the case of student-organized group presentations, questions may be deferred until the end of the group's presentation.

Time limits will be strictly enforced by moderators selected by the WUC Committee.