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General Guidelines and Instructions

Writing a Proposal

1. Choose a topic.

Read previous WUC program booklets and digital programs to see the range of topics presented at the conference.

2. Choose type of presentation.

  • Individual Oral Presentation (15 minutes including Q&A):  An oral presentation, often with slides, by one individual. Total time 15 minutes: 12-minute presentation, three-minute Q&A.
  • Joint Oral Presentation (15 minutes including Q&A): An oral presentation, often with slides, by two or sometimes three individuals. Total time 15 minutes: 12-minute presentation (four or six minutes per presenter), three-minute Q&A. One presenter submits a proposal for the duo or trio and lists the other participants.
  • Poster Presentation (individual or joint): Conference-style, large-format, printed poster.  All posters are presented during a session held in the Cordiner Hall lobby.  Poster presenters must be on hand during the whole session to discuss posters and answer questions. See additional guidelines for posters.
  • Performance (15 minutes including Q&A): A presentation combining a summary of research and a demonstration, typically in the performing arts, by an individual in solo or group performance. Total time 15 minutes: 12-minute presentation, three-minute Q&A.
  • Group Presentation (60-75 minutes including Q&A): Typically, a group of four to six students who present a single topic or theme in a forum-style setting over the course of a full 75-minute session. One presenter submits a proposal for the entire group and lists the other participants.  See additional guidelines for group presentations (including a differing timeframe for Capstone groups presenting in Computer Science). 

You may present both oral and poster presentations. The same material should not be presented in both oral and poster format. Traditionally, a limit is set of one oral and one poster presentation per WUC presenter. For certain situations (Community Fellow flash talks, department capstone group presentations, etc.), presenters have the opportunity to give more than one oral presentation. The WUC Review Committee will consult with presenters and their sponsors to discuss and arrange for these exceptions.

3. Seek sponsorship from a faculty member.

All proposals must be sponsored by a faculty member. Sponsors will read proposals and suggest revisions as needed. A sponsor may be someone other than your research supervisor.

Group presentations require only one sponsor for the entire group of presenters. One presenter only submits the group proposal in the online application system.

The same applies to joint oral presentations and joint poster presentations. One presenter only submits for all presenters. 

Sponsors are notified of a submitted proposal by e-mail via the WUC online application system. The notice instructs them about actions required of them for the successful submission of your proposal. Remind your sponsor of these notices.

4. Craft a proposal (150 words maximum).

Your proposal also serves as the official program note for the WUC catalog. Because research often isn't completed by the deadline for submissions, results aren't required in proposals.

Write in a formal style. Describe your work and its significance. Begin with a general statement that puts your research question in context. Provide background (briefly, what already is known about the topic), explain what aspect of the topic you aimed to study, and conclude with a summary of the significance (or expectations) of your results. How does your research add to previous studies? What is a recommended course of action based on your findings? What impact might your research have in the field?

Keep in mind that your audience is the general Whitman community. Define highly specialized technical vocabulary. Do not use acronyms in first reference.

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

Proposals may not exceed 150 words (excluding title).  Titles should be capitalized, but not in all-caps.

NOTE: If your project received internal funding (e.g., Abshire, Faculty-Student Summer Research Award) or external support, or if it stems from study abroad, this information must be noted in the text box next to "Research Funding Source or OCS Program." For example: "This project was funded by a Faculty-Student Summer Research Award from Whitman College."  If you do not know the precise source or sources that funded your research, inquire with your faculty sponsor.

NOTE: All proposals involving human subjects must be approved by the Whitman's Institutional Review Board in advance of your research, whether conducted on campus or abroad. If your proposal involves human subjects, 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 IRB@whitman.edu . When you receive your IRB number, add it to your online proposal.

Submitting a Proposal

1. Submit the initial copy of your proposal.

Submit your application online through the WUC online application system.

Your username is the first part of your Whitman e-mail address (without @whitman.edu).

Submit your proposal in advance of the deadline (suggested: at least two weeks prior) to ensure sufficient time for your sponsor to review your proposal and, if needed, request revisions.  You must complete any sponsor-requested revisions prior to receiving sponsor approval within the application system.  The deadline for sponsor approval is Friday, February 17, 2023.

NOTE: The application system may "time out" for users who take longer to enter their information.  Compose your program note in a saved Word or Google document and transfer to the application system through copy/paste in order to avoid losing your work.

2. Receive sponsor revision requests, make revisions and secure approval.

When you submit a proposal online, an e-mail is automatically sent to your faculty sponsor. Your sponsor will have the opportunity to request revisions, and you will receive an e-mail informing you of your sponsor's action.

Make any requested revisions and resubmit your proposal. Choose "Resubmitted by Presenter to Sponsor for Review" and then save your changes before exiting your revised proposal.  If you fail to select this and save, your sponsor will not be made aware of your revisions.

Your sponsor will receive another e-mail and will either approve your proposal or request further revisions. Revise until you receive notice of approval by your faculty sponsor.  Sponsor approval (after all revisions have been made and reviewed) must occur by Friday, February 17, 2023.  

3. Receive WUC Review Committee final approval.

WUC Review Committee members charged with reviewing proposals will read proposals after they are approved by faculty sponsors.

Proposals will be marked "Approved by Review Committee" or "Returned to Presenter by Review Committee for Revisions." In rare cases, the committee will elect to reject a proposal. In each instance, the appropriate faculty sponsor is notified. Proposals do not require sponsor reapproval after revisions are requested by the review committee, unless otherwise noted. Typically, requests for revisions by the committee 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.

When making revisions requested by the WUC Review Committee, be sure to choose "Resubmitted to Review Committee" and then save your changes before exiting your revised proposal.  If you fail to select this and save, the Review Committee will not be made aware of your revisions.

Next Steps: Project and Presentation

1. Continue to work on your project.

Preparation for your presentation should begin simultaneously with submission of your proposal.  Continue to work on your project after the proposal is accepted.

In most cases, you will need images for your presentation. Take photos and collect images as you go. If you are working in a lab, take pictures of your setup throughout the process. Don't wait until the project is finished. Make a folder on your computer titled "WUC Information" and fill it with anything that might figure into your project. 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 or Google document titled "Project Information" (within the "WUC Information" folder) and store all items in this document.

2. Prepare for your presentation.

The next steps depend on the type of presentation you have chosen.  If relevant, see guidelines for poster presentations or  guidelines for group presentations.

For individual and joint oral presentations and performances, plan to create a 12-minute presentation.  In early March the Undergraduate Conference schedule will be set and your project will be assigned to a panel session alongside 2-4 other presentations.  Each presentation will be followed by 3-minute Q&A period wherein you will field questions from attendees.  You will be informed of the time and location of your presentation.

For group presentations, plan to create a presentation of at least 60 minutes, which will be followed by a Q&A period of up to 15 minutes wherein your entire group will field questions from attendees.  You will be informed of the time and location of your group's presentation in early March.

For Capstone group presentations in Computer Science, time slots are one-half of a full panel session, or about 38 minutes. Prepare content to fill approximately 30 minutes. A Q&A period will follow in whatever time you have left.

If creating slides for a panel presentation, ensure that they are accessible.  Microsoft has identified recommended accessible templates, and WebAIM has excellent general information regarding accessibility, including a color contrast checker.  Choose fonts and font sizes carefully; good recommendations on font choice and legibility have been compiled by a group at Penn State.

You may also find it helpful to view this YouTube video of Simple Rules for an Effective Research Presentation before or while working on your slides.

3. Attend coaching and technical support sessions. 

All presenters (both oral and poster) will work with trained student coaches to prepare for their presentations.  You will receive notice of your assigned coach in March, and they will reach out to you to arrange a time to meet.  You must meet with your coach at least once, but you may meet with them additionally, as many times as desired.

When the Undergraduate Conference schedule is set, you will be informed of the time of your presentation.  For panel presenters, required technical support sessions will be held to ready you for participation.  You will be notified about the details and timing of this session by a member of the WCTS staff.  Bring your presentation on a thumb drive or store it in Google Drive in order to be able to access it on the WCTS-provided laptop.

Day of the Conference

The 25th annual Whitman Undergraduate Conference will take place on Tuesday, April 11, 2023.

The conference spans the whole day and is divided into several panel sessions and a poster session. Panel sessions run 75 minutes and presentations therein are grouped by topic or discipline. Time limits will be strictly enforced by session moderators.  The poster session occupies at least one hour in the early afternoon.  All posters are displayed in the foyer of Cordiner Hall.

Archiving Your Presentation

1.  Talk with your faculty sponsor(s) about archiving your presentation in ARMINDA, Whitman's institutional repository at Penrose Library, and turn in an electronic copy of the submission agreement form (EZ version), which will be sent to you via SignRequest.

Archiving is not required but is strongly recommended if the material is not of a sensitive nature (i.e., if it does not contain critical unpublished data). Both open-access and limited-access options are available.

Archiving your presentation in ARMINDA creates a permanent link to your work that can be added to your resume or CV and provided to employers, graduate schools, family and friends.

For each presentation, student presenters and faculty sponsors must sign a submission agreement (EZ form) for permissions and licensing.  Your research can either be made available to the entire internet (open access) or only to Whitman community members (limited access).  Signatures are required from every student who contributed to the project, so any co-presenters must come to an agreement on how the work is to be made available.  If you have multiple sponsors, all must sign.  The associated distribution license is non-exclusive, so you keep your copyright and the right to share your research elsewhere.

You, your co-presenters, and your faculty sponsors will be sent an electronic copy of the EZ form via SignRequest unless you have already indicated to the Review Committee that you will not be archiving.  A sample of the EZ form can be viewed online (do not sign the sample).

Prior WUC participants' archived presentations can be seen in the ARMINDA Whitman Undergraduate Conference collection.

2.  Upload your presentation through the WUC library submission form after referring to the official guidelines on how to format your work for archiving.

Penrose Library has provided a WUC LibGuide with detailed instructions on formatting and submitting WUC presentations to ARMINDA. 

When ready, fill out the WUC library submission form and upload your presentation file as directed.

Please contact Amy Blau with any questions about submitting your WUC project to share in ARMINDA.

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