Writing a Proposal

1. Choose a topic.

Read previous WUC 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 PowerPoint, 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 PowerPoint, 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 poster in PDF format. All posters are displayed as PDFs on the Undergraduate Conference website.  A virtual poster session will be held during the conference day via Gather.Town. Poster presenters must be on hand during the session to discuss posters and answer questions. See additional guidelines.
  • 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 (including differing parameters for groups presenting in Computer Science). 

You may present one and only one oral presentation (individual, joint, or performance). You may give a poster presentation in addition to an oral presentation. 

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).

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 which 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: https://webapp2.whitman.edu/ugradconf/

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 1-2 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 26, 2021.

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 26, 2021.  

3. Receive WUC Organizing Committee final approval.

WUC Organizing 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 Organizing 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 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 hard drive 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 instructions for poster presentations and instructions for group presentations.

For individual and joint oral presentations and performances, plan to record a 12-minute video.  Your video will be played during a live, moderated online panel session along with 2-4 other video presentations, each followed by 3-minute Q&A period wherein you will field questions from attendees.  Your video cannot exceed 12 minutes.

For group presentations, plan to record a video of at least 60 minutes.  The video will be played during a live online panel session, followed by a Q&A period of up to 15 minutes wherein your entire group will field questions from attendees.

For 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.

PowerPoints/Slides: It is essential that the information you share in your presentation is offered in both written and spoken formats. This can be done by including all relevant information on slides or by including text in the Notes section underneath each slide. Microsoft has identified recommended accessible templates, and WebAIM has excellent general information regarding accessibility, including a color contrast checker

  • Slides and PowerPoint have built-in live captioning capability.  All videos will be captioned by the Office of Communications before they are posted.

Font: Font size varies, depending on the font itself. This page from Penn State has good recommendations.

Video and poster files must be submitted in advance of the conference.  The submission deadline for videos and posters is Monday, April 5th.

Plan to send your video as a .mp4, .mov, or .mkv file.  Do NOT upload your video to YouTube, Vimeo, or the like; your submission must be received as a downloadable file.  Files can be stored in Google Drive and should be e-mailed to WUC Organizing Committee member Jenny Stratton at strattjm@whitman.edu.

Plan to send your poster PDF to the e-mail address listed above as a high-quality .pdf file.  Large files may be stored in Google Drive for transfer.  If desired, you may create a short video (up to 5 minutes) to accompany your poster.

3. Attend coaching and technical support sessions. 

All oral presenters will work with student coaches directed by Devon Wootten (wootedc@whitman.edu), manager of the Language Learning Center, to prepare and record videos of their presentations. To facilitate this process, the PowerPoint element of your presentation should be finished and delivered to your coach before your coaching session. 

Your coach will contact you to set up a time for an appointment within the video production window. 

When the Undergraduate Conference schedule is set, you will be informed of the time of your presentation.  Required technical support sessions will be held to ready you for participation in the virtual conference environment (panel and/or poster sessions).

Day of the Conference

The 23rd annual Whitman Undergraduate Conference will take place on April 13, 2021.

The conference is divided into three panel sessions and a one-hour poster session. Panel sessions run 75 minutes.

Posters will be displayed as PDFs on the Undergraduate Conference website several days in advance of the conference.  The virtual conference space Gather.Town will be utilized for an online poster session to enable discussions between poster presenters and attendees on the day of the conference.

Presenters in panel sessions will be assigned a virtual room and specific time slot within the session. Presentations are grouped by topic or discipline.

Time limits will be strictly enforced by session moderators.

After the Conference

1. Consider sharing your research in ARMINDA, Whitman's institutional repository at Penrose Library.

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

Upon submitting to ARMINDA, you may choose either to make your presentation available publicly or solely with the Whitman community.  The associated distribution license is non-exclusive, so you keep your copyright and the right to share your research elsewhere.  Prior WUC participants' archived presentations can be seen in the ARMINDA Whitman College Undergraduate Conference collection.

2. Discuss archiving your presentation with your faculty sponsor.

Both you and your faculty sponsor will need to sign a permission and licensing form.  Each person initials the form to either make the research available to the entire Internet, or only to Whitman community members.  If you or your faculty sponsor have other plans for publishing your research, it is possible to put a 2-year embargo on your files.  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.  The library has introduced an e-signature form which will be emailed to presenters and their faculty sponsors when you submit your presentation.

3. Get information from the library website on how to format your work and submit it.

The library provides detailed instructions on formatting and submitting WUC presentations to ARMINDA.  When ready, fill out an online submission form and upload your presentation file.

3. Turn in the permission form.

The ARMINDA permission and licensing form must be signed and initialed by you, your faculty sponsor and any other contributors.  Look for the e-signature form in your inbox after you submit your presentation.

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