Centennial Honors College

URD Guidelines for Participation

Participation in the Undergraduate Research Day poster, podium, and performance sessions is open to all Western Illinois University undergraduate students. Participants must submit an abstract and participation information, which also confirms that they have read and understood these guidelines.

Students are invited to submit a photo of themselves working on their research (with their faculty mentor if possible). These can be sent to honors@wiu.edu with "URD photo" in the subject line. Please include the names of everyone in the photo.



To be eligible to participate in Undergraduate Research Day, your research, project, or creative work must fall into one of the two categories: In-Progress OR Completed Projects/Papers. Projects/papers may be the product of a single student or a collaborative effort involving no more than three student participants, with one identified as the principal author. All participants must have a faculty research mentor. Participants will be notified of submission by return e-mail.


An in-progress Project is a mentored research/project endeavor or creative activity that is conceived and developed according to the standards of the discipline and that proposes a plan for completing the intended project. The in-progress project/paper contains some combination of the following elements or appropriate adaptation thereof: a statement of the project/paper objective; the project/paper proposed significance; key questions related to the research, scholarship, or creative activity; relevant literature or contextual background; and appropriate theoretical or methodological considerations.


A completed project is a mentored research/scholarly endeavor or creative activity that extends knowledge, understanding, or interpretive ability. It contains the elements of the in-progress project/paper as indicated above. In addition, the abstract for a completed project should include a discussion of procedure and any significant results/conclusions/interpretation.

Required Elements

Undergraduate Research Day provides three forums for showcasing students’ research, projects and creative activities:


  • Only three presenters per Poster Presentation

This method makes use of the poster format as the primary means for presenting your work. The presenters are asked to check poster presentation content conventions in their disciplines, but including the following elements generally ensure clarity: an abstract; an introduction; a discussion of methodology/steps of the argument or a description of the project; a results/conclusion statement; and an indication of the project’s actual or potential contribution to knowledge, understanding, or appreciation. All supplemental materials must be approved by the Centennial Honors College.


  • Each Podium Presentation will be allotted 10 minutes
  • Only one presenter per Podium Presentation

Students communicate their ideas, research findings or projects verbally, much like a professor in a classroom. Podium presentations may be supplemented by audio/visual expressions or multimedia aids. Presentations are given in a group setting. Presenters should provide an introduction to the project, a discussion of methodology/ procedure/steps or history and context of the project, a results/conclusion statement, and an indication of the project's actual or potential contribution to knowledge, understanding, or appreciation. The question and answer portion for each presentation will be held at the end of each session. Therefore, participants should be prepared to attend all presentations within their session period and stay for the duration in order to answer questions at the end of their session. Judging criteria is included below.


  • Each Performance Presentation will be allotted 20 minutes

Performance Presentations are forums for oral and creative expression and may be supplemented with multimedia. Performances are given in a group setting. Performers should provide an introduction to the creative work, a discussion of the history and context of a creative work, the performance, and a description the works contribution to knowledge, understanding, or appreciation. Judges may ask performers questions at the end of their performance. The judging criteria is included below.

Poster Presentation Guidelines

Poster Presentation Judging Criteria

Note: Quality in content, construction, and overall appearance is paramount. Poster presentations will vary in format, style, and substance according to the academic discpline of the presenter. Whether you are in the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, or arts, consult your faculty mentor for direction in preparing your poster presentation. The following, however, are general guidelines and may be adapted to your particular purpose.

  1. Title: At the top of your poster, you should have a title that is both short and descriptive of the project. As a rule, the title should be easily readable at a distance of 4-6 feet (words are approximately 2/3 to 1 inch or 1.5 to 2.5 cm in height.)
  2. Name and Affiliation: Directly under the title, you should include your name or names (if more than one participant), the name of the faculty research mentor, and the name of the relevant academic department. The name and affiliation section is usually 20%-30% smaller than the title.
  3. Body of the Poster: The body of your poster must fit on a 3’ x 4’ tri-fold display board. The display board will be supplied on the day of the event and will have your assigned number in the upper left-hand corner. The following elements are recommended for the body of the poster:
    • Abstract: The abstract is a brief synopsis of the entire project described in the poster. The abstract (about 20 copies, no more than 250 words) should be printed for distribution at the time of the poster presentation. Most abstracts are one paragraph in length. The abstract should be understandable without reading the entire poster, and readers should be able to decide if they would like to read the entire poster based on the abstract. The abstract should contain the following elements: the purpose and significance of the research, scholarship, or creative activity; the steps taken to complete the project or activity; and the major findings and conclusions.
    • Introduction: The purpose of the introduction is to present the hypothesis, thesis, or argument explored by your project. Keep in mind that this is your opportunity to orient and interest your audience. Provide them with context and background and some indication of the rationale, significance, or importance of your study.
    • Methods, Argument, or Interpretive Approach: Depending on the nature of your presentation, you should describe the methods or procedures or steps that you used in arriving at your results, or the interpretive approach that you employed, or the arguments that you marshal in establishing your point. Keep in mind that your audience is not expected to know as much as you and your faculty mentor know about your topic, and so make every effort to be concise, clear, and complete in your explanation.
    • Results or Conclusions: In this section you are to summarize the data or conclusions. Where relevant, report the results of any statistical tests, examinations, or studies. Also where relevant, present all your results, whether positive or negative. A table or figure may be useful in some instances in presenting your summary, but it is incumbent on the presenter to explain or interpret the table or figure.
    • Literature Cited: This section is optional in the poster, unless citations are used in the text; you may use a unit smaller than 6 3/4" by 8" (17.5 cm by 20.5 cm). Include only those works cited in the text. Do not cite a work unless you have read it yourself. Cite all of your references in the text and list them in the literature cited section using a format from a journal within your discipline.
    • Graphics, Tables, Photos, and Other Visuals: Illustrations, tables, figures, photographs and diagrams need to have unique identification numbers and legends. In the text, use the numbers to refer to specific graphics or pictures. In your legends, include a full explanation and, where appropriate, include color keys, scale, etc. Individual items for your poster presentation should not exceed 11" x 14" in size.

Example Display Board

Example Display Board

  • Supplies: You will be provided with a 3' x 4' display board, a table, and push-pins to attach items to the display board. Your poster should be brought to the event in a form that is ready to be attached, and you will need to provide any other necessary supplies that your presentation requires.
  • Electronic Device Use: The use of laptops/tablets for enhancement of visual displays is encouraged; however, the employment of electronic devices should not replace the trifold poster. Supplemental project-relevant visual information may be presented with an electronic device positioned on the poster table. The visuals should be programmed to keep presenters free to discuss their projects with visitors. Audio should not be used as a courtesy to nearby poster presenters. Devices should be brought fully charged to Undergraduate Research Day as access to outlets may not be available.
Podium Presentation Guidelines

Podium Presentation Judging Criteria

Podium presentations will vary in format, style, and substance according to the academic discipline of the presenter. Consult your faculty mentor for direction in preparing your oral presentation. The following, however, are general guidelines and may be adapted to your particular purpose. Podium Presentations will be judged by a panel of interdisciplinary faculty. A guideline of judging components can be accessed by viewing the judging form included below.

Abstract: The abstract (about 20 copies, no more than 250 words) should be printed for distribution at the time of the presentation. The abstract is a brief synopsis of the entire work described in your presentation. Most abstracts are usually one paragraph in length. The abstract should be understandable without seeing the presentation and readers should be able to decide if they would like to watch the presentation based on what they read in the abstract. The abstract should contain the following elements: the purpose of the research or project, a brief statement about what you did, a concise statement of the major findings, and the major conclusions. Do not include details of the method or approach used to research or prepare your area of study. The abstract should be available as a handout.

PowerPoint or Slide Presentation:

See the above formatting directions for the poster presentation.

  1. A laptop computer, a projector, and a screen will be provided. Presenters with other special equipment needs must make arrangements well in advance of Research Day and must indicate the nature of the equipment needs at the time when the proposal is submitted.
  2. PowerPoint (PP) presenters need to load their presentation materials into computers before the Opening Remarks are given and podium presentations begin.
  3. Presenters should bring their own PP files with thumb drives at the time of their podium sessions as back up.

Paper Presentation:

All oral presentation of papers will conform to the standards and practices of the student's academic discipline, and presenters should consult with their faculty mentors for guidance. A podium will be supplied.

Performance Presentation Guidelines

Performance Presentation Judging Criteria

Performance Presentations must conform to the standards of the relevant discipline. Presenters should consult with their faculty mentors for guidance. All should begin with an introduction by the artist(s) that contextualizes the performance to follow. Presentations with a performance element will be allotted 20 minutes with a 10-minute set up.

Presenters must arrange for their own equipment or instrument needs, including transportation. A podium and piano will be supplied. Please contact the Honors College for other special requirements.

On Research Day

  1. Submit a participation letter (available at the Honors College) to your professors for classes you will miss due to Undergraduate Research Day participation. Arrangements must be made in advance.
  2. Be prepared to answer questions about your presentation.
  3. Business casual attire is appropriate for this event.
  4. Be prepared to have your photograph taken for newspapers, websites, etc.
  5. Certificates of Participation will be presented to participants.

Important Note: Arrangements for class absence must be made in advance of Research Day— Please notify your instructors and make arrangements for missed classes or other obligations.

Ethical Authorship

Faculty mentors: Please keep the following modified statement from the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics in mind as you work with students:

"Professional publications or presentations that are based on a student's Honor's or other research project should only be used with the student's permission and list the student as an author, as appropriate."

Human or Animal Research

If you have questions about your compliance under federal guidelines regarding human, animal, or radiological research, please contact the IRB Administrator, at 309-298-1191 or IRB@wiu.edu .

Submit Abstract

We look forward to seeing you and the results of your work at Undergraduate Research Day. Should you have any questions or comments regarding presentation, please contact your faculty research mentor.