Writing a Proposal

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

2. Choose type of presentation.

  • Individual: An oral presentation, often with PowerPoint, by one individual. Total time: 15 minutes: 12-minute presentation, three-minute Q&A.
  • Joint: An oral presentation, often with PowerPoint, 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 during the session to discuss posters and answer questions. See additional guidelines.
  • 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: Typically, a group of 4-6 students who present a single topic or theme in a forum-style setting. 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. 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 be notified of a submitted proposal by e-mail via the WUC online application system. The notice 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. Because your research might not be completed by the deadline for submissions, results aren't required in your proposal.

Write with a formal style. Describe your work and its significance. Begin with a general statement that puts your research question in context. Provide background (in brief, what is already known about the topic), explain what aspect of the topic you plan to study, and conclude with a summary of the significance 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. Your proposal in the online application system is a program note designed to attract a general audience.

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 (Perry, Abshire or Soden awards) 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 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 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 as you begin to plan your project. 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 midnight Dec. 16, 2016. Submit your application online through the WUC online application system: https://webapp.whitman.edu/ugradconf/index.cfm?event=home

Revisions to proposals, requested by your faculty sponsor and/or the WUC Organizing Committee, are due by 5:00 p.m. Jan. 30, 2017.

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 or request revisions.

You will receive an e-mail informing you of your sponsor's action. If necessary, make revisions and re-submit your proposal. Your sponsor will receive another e-mail and will either approve your proposal or request further revisions.

Deadlines are your responsibility. Check the status of your online application. Make revisions in a timely fashion. If you notice that your proposal has not been approved, contact your sponsor.

3. WUC Organizing Committee Approval and Revisions

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

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

Deadline for final revisions: 5:00 p.m. Jan. 30, 2017.

Next Steps

1. Final Editing

Soon after the deadline for final revisions, 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 changes 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 (Reid Campus Center, rooms 231 and 232) by 8:00 a.m. Feb. 6, 2017. (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. 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 student-organized group presentations.

4. Coaching and Technical Support Sessions

In mid-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 19th Annual Whitman Undergraduate Conference will take place on April 11, 2017.

The conference runs from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is divided into four panel sessions and a poster session. Panel sessions run approximately 75 minutes. The poster session occupies an hour (1:00-2:00) after lunch.

Presenters in panel sessions will be assigned a room and specific time slot within the session. Presentations are grouped by topic or discipline. All posters are displayed in the foyer of Cordiner Hall.

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