Presentation Guidelines

What Constitutes Undergraduate Research?

The Winchell Undergraduate Research Symposium is designed to provide a venue for students to present research, which we define as “an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.” To make an original contribution, research needs to create new knowledge.

Undergraduate students can participate in the Winchell Undergraduate Research Symposium with a paper or oral presentation (or both, by special request).

See below for more information about presentation rules and guidelines.

Project Categories

Students may enter their projects into one of the following categories during the registration process. During oral presentations, some categories may be consolidated depending on the number of students presenting in each discipline.
Cellular and Molecular Biology
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Earth Science
Ecology and Environmental Science
Economics and Business
Math & Computer Science
Organismal and Physiological Sciences
Social Sciences

Abstract Guidelines

Students must submit abstracts during registration for both poster and oral presentations. Please follow the guidelines below for abstracts.
For team projects, each person must register separately though you will have the same project title, authors and abstract.

Length, Spacing, and Fonts:

Abstracts should be a maximum of 250 words.

Abstracts should be single-spaced and left-justified with no indentation.

Use Times New Roman or Arial size 12 font for abstracts and titles.

Titles should be in ALL CAPS, except for Latin names.

Latin names should be italicized and lowercase except for the first letter of the genus, which is capitalized.

Use Oxford commas for all lists, including authors (i.e. “a, b, and c” not “a, b and c”).

Authors and Institutions:

Authors’ names should take the form First M.I. Last.

Authors should be separated by a comma and the last author should be preceded by the word ‘and’.

Advisors should be listed as an author and be followed by the word “Advisor” in parentheses.

If authors represent different institutions, identify the different institutions with a superscript numeral.

The list of authors should include the department of the author and advisor.


For more information:

For examples of properly formatted abstracts, please see the 2018 Journal of Abstracts.

If you need help deciding what information to include in your abstract, we recommend How to write a good abstract for a scientific paper or conference presentation by Chittaranjan Andrade.

Poster Guidelines

Posters must not exceed the size of the backer boards provided:  4 ft. by 3 ft.

Check with your advisor to see if your college or university has branding guidelines to follow for your poster design or templates to follow. Your advisor may also know where you can get your poster printed on campus or nearby.

Oral Presentation Guidelines

Each presenter will be allotted 10 minutes for their presentation and no more than 2 - 3 minutes for questions.

Computer presentation stations will be available in every room. Students should be able to access their presentation online but are strongly encouraged to also bring their presentation on a flash drive as a back up. There will be some time to load student presentations and check for errors prior to the start of each session (during the end of the lunch break) but only a few minutes to transition between presentations. 

For tips about preparing your presentation structure and content, we recommend “Oral Presentation Structure” from Scitable. If you need help with the design of your presentation, the University of Northwestern CLIMB program put together a video on how to design slides for a scientific presentation.