Applicant and Presenter FAQ

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Submission FAQ

What should I include in an abstract?

An abstract should include the problem you are trying to solve or question you are trying to answer, the methods and techniques you will use to find out helpful information, and (if known), a brief note about your results. Abstracts vary considerably depending on your discipline and the type of research you are doing. If you would like to see examples from fields similar to your own, you can search last year’s program. Click on the name of the project to see the full abstract.

For advice about writing an abstract or description, please see Advice on Writing Descriptions & Abstracts.

What special instructions do I need to follow when submitting my application?  

Make sure to keep your abstract under 1500 characters. Spaces are included in the character count. If your abstract is too long, you will receive an error message or your abstract will be cut off. Do not include separate paragraphs, bullets, or other specific formatting, as this will not be maintained when your abstract is submitted. Avoid special characters like superscript, subscript, and non-English characters. If your abstract MUST include a special character, please reply to your submission confirmation email with the necessary additions and we will add them manually to your listing.

How do I decide which theme my research fits? What if my research doesn’t fit one of the themes?

The topic areas are described here. They are designed to be broad enough to fit almost any topic; if you have trouble deciding, feel free to email for assistance and we will help you figure it out. Many research projects fit more than one topic area. If your project could fit more than one, pick the one that interests you most, as posters and panel presentations are grouped by these topics. As we review topics, we may move presentations to a different topic area if we feel that it is a better fit.

What if I haven’t finished my research before the application is due?

It is common for researchers to submit abstracts before they have finished analyzing their results, but you should make sure that you will be able to present your results by the time of the Celebration. Your abstract should describe what you are researching and how; it does not need to include your final results.

What if I have more than one research project to present? 

You may only submit one abstract to the Celebration in a given year. Since we ask that you stay with your project throughout your presentation time to answer questions, you may not present more than one. However, if you have been a part of a group project, another member of the project may submit and represent the entire group.

When will I find out whether I have been accepted or not, and when I will be presenting? 

We will send acceptances within a week of the submission deadline. This initial email will not include your exact time of presentation, but we will be in touch as soon as possible after that with your assignment. We will only assign you to a time slot you have selected. We try to accommodate everyone’s first request for a poster or a panel presentation, but we sometimes have too many panel presentation submissions and cannot always accept all that we receive.

What if my research changes or my results aren’t what I thought they would be?

This happens frequently in research! Don’t worry too much. If your research results are different from what you proposed in your abstract, email us as soon as you can to let us know, so that we can make changes to your listing in the program book and online. The program book is printed about two weeks before the Celebration, and we can make online changes until about three days before the Celebration.

I missed the deadline! Can I still present? 

We cannot accept late submissions. Please consider submitting an application for next year, and you can also look for other presentation opportunities through your department or at other conferences.

Presenter FAQ

What is the format for presentations at the Celebration?

For panel talks and performances: You will be assigned to a one-hour panel with other presenters who have researched similar topics. You will have 8 minutes to present your material. After all the presenters on your panel have presented, there will be a question & discussion time. We will provide a PC laptop on which you may show PowerPoint slides or video. You will be required to provide presentations or links to video ahead of time so that we can pre-load them on the laptop.

For poster presentations: You will be assigned a number. Come to the Great Hall at least 15 minutes before your assigned session time, bringing your poster with you. You may come as early as 11 am if your schedule does not allow you to come immediately before your presentation time. Your poster should be no larger than 48 inches (wide) by 36 inches (tall). It does not need to be mounted. We will provide an easel and a board with your number on it, as well as pushpins for you to hang your poster. You will remain by your poster to answer questions throughout your session time. You must pick up your poster by 4 pm; any posters that are left behind will be recycled.

How do I make an effective poster to display my research?

A poster should include enticing images as well as clearly stated short descriptions of your research subject or question, your methodology, your results, and the implications of your results including the next steps you or someone else could take to push the work further. For additional tips, there are a large number of online resources available:

How do I print a poster?

We cannot recommend specific vendors, but many students use Student Stores Print Stop. Other students have used PhD Posters, an on-line service with delivery to the Health Science Library. PosterSmith is another option. We recommend getting your poster printed at least ten days in advance in case you run into problems.

How do I do an oral presentation?

Your oral presentation should be 8 minutes long and should introduce the audience to the research topic, outline your research question and the methods or tactics you used, then present the results of your research. Make sure to discuss the implications of your research and what you or someone else might do next to take the research further.

Many people find that PowerPoint or video presentations can help make their research clearer or more engaging. This is a good way to include charts or graphs, photos, diagrams, and other support materials, but don’t use a PowerPoint just to write out your presentation!

Practice your presentation several times to make sure you are comfortable speaking and that your presentation is not too long. You can practice in front of your friends, with one of your instructors, or even your pet! The important thing is that you practice out loud.

There are many online resources that can give you more suggestions:

What if I can no longer participate in the Celebration?

If you can no longer participate at your assigned time, please let us know as soon as possible at Even if you get sick the day of the Celebration, it is helpful for us to know that you will not be there.
If you find that your research project has changed, please email us as soon as possible. If we know early enough, we may be able to accommodate your changed research in the program.

How should I acknowledge support I have received from OUR?

You should list any support from OUR, like Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships or travel grants, either by text on your poster or PowerPoint or verbally in your panel presentation. You can find full details, including suggestions for wording, here.