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): 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): 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: Conference-style, large-format, printed poster. All posters are presented during a two-hour poster session in Cordiner Hall. Poster presenters must be on hand during the session to discuss posters and answer questions. See additional guidelines.
  • Performance (15 minutes): 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): 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.

3. Secure approval from a faculty sponsor.

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 program notes printed in the WUC program. 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).

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 should 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.

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. 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.

You may present one and only one oral presentation. You may give a poster presentation in addition to an oral presentation. 

Submitting a Proposal

1. Deadlines

Proposals are due by 8:00 a.m. on January 27, 2020. Submit your application online through the WUC online application system: https://webapp.whitman.edu/ugradconf/

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

2. Sponsor Approval and Revisions

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

You will receive an e-mail informing you of your sponsor's action. Make revisions and resubmit your proposal. Be sure to choose "Resubmitted by Presenter to Sponsor for Review" and then save your changes before exiting your revised proposal.  (If you fail to select "Resubmitted by Presenter to Sponsor for Review" 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 January 27th.  

3. WUC Organizing Committee Final Approval and Revisions

WUC Organizing Committee members charged with reviewing proposals 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. All revisions made for the reviewers must be completed by 8:00 a.m. on February 7, 2020.

Next Steps

1. Final Editing

Soon after proposals are accepted by the WUC Organizing Committee, you will receive through campus mail a hard-copy proof of your proposal. This is your final opportunity to proof your proposal for small errors. Minor corrections only may be made to your proof.

These proofs must be signed and returned -- whether or not changes are made -- to the Office of Fellowships and Grants (Hunter Conservatory, rooms 305 and 309) by 8:00 a.m. on February 14, 2020. You will receive an email reminding you of this deadline.  If returning the form outside of regular business hours, you may deliver it to the mailroom in Hunter Conservatory (room 201: look for the yellow tag marking the Office of Fellowships and Grants mailbox).

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

2. Work on Project

Continue to work on your project. 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 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. See instructions for poster presentations and instructions for group presentations.

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 and tech sessions designed to help you with your presentation.

Coaching and tech sessions occur in the days immediately preceding the conference. All presenters are required to attend a coaching session and a tech session.

Day of the Conference

The 22nd annual Whitman Undergraduate Conference will take place on April 7, 2020.

The conference runs from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is divided into three panel sessions and a poster session. Panel sessions run 75 minutes. The poster session occupies two hours (1:00-3:00) after lunch. All posters are displayed in the foyer of Cordiner Hall.

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

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

After the Conference

Consider sharing your research in ARMINDA, Whitman's institutional repository.  Doing so means that you have a link to your work that you can provide to employers or graduate schools, as well as family and friends.  Prospective Whitman students and prospective students in your major can see the kind of research that they, too, may want to do.  You can choose to share with the world, or just with the Whitman community.  Our distribution license is non-exclusive, so you keep your copyright and the right to share your research elsewhere.  You can see what other students have shared, and programs from previous conferences, in our Whitman College Undergraduate Conference collection.

If you would like Penrose Library to post your presentation slides, paper, or poster in the ARMINDA repository, here is what to do:

1. Tell your faculty sponsor that you'd like to share your research, and make sure that they also think that this is a good idea.

Both you and your faculty sponsor will need to sign a permission and licensing form that tells us how you want us to share your research.  Both of you will need to initial the form to either make the research available to everyone everywhere on the Internet, or to make the research available only to Whitman community members.  If you or your faculty sponsor have other plans for publishing your research and would like to put a 2-year embargo on your files, you can indicate that on the form as well.  We need signatures on the form from every student who contributed to the project, so if you have co-presenters, you will all need to agree on how to share your work.

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

The library provides detailed instructions on this process.  Once everything is formatted and ready to go, you will fill out an online form and attach the file to your presentation, paper or poster.

3. Turn in the permission form.

The permission form must be signed and initialed by your faculty sponsor, yourself and any other contributors, and submitted to Penrose Library room 213 by May 1st.

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