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WSU Undergraduate Education SURCA 2020

Undergraduate Presenters: Frequently Asked Questions

May I present two posters at SURCA? For example, I would like to have one on my own scholarly research, and the other would be on work I’ve done with a team doing a group project.

You can only formally present one poster to SURCA judges, but you can be listed as a joint-presenter on other work shown on a second poster, if you have joint-presenters who are willing to make the presentation to judges.

There is a difference between joint-presenters and co-authors, as explained on the SURCA website. Each and every joint-presenter must separately submit their own information to SURCA.

To represent your work on two projects:

  • Submit one abstract about your solo work and list yourself as the primary presenter.
  • Then submit the abstract that the team created about the group project and list yourself as a joint-presenter. Even though each of you will be submitting the same abstract, SURCA needs student information about each of the presenters. That way, SURCA officials can acknowledge all award winners if a joint-presented effort wins an award.
I just graduated from WSU this last December; can I still present the research, scholarship, or creative activity that I was working on before I graduated at SURCA?

Yes, you are welcome to present your work, and we encourage you to do so. You will be judged along with other students and receive feedback on your work from your judges. If you are selected as an award recipient, you will be formally recognized at our award ceremony. Please note, however, that since you are not still an undergraduate student, you will not be eligible to receive a monetary award. The reason for this is our monetary awards are disbursed to student accounts as scholarships for undergraduates. Unfortuantely, we cannot administer such a scholarship to someone who has already graduated.

What if I can’t be there to hang my poster between noon and 2 p.m. on the day of SURCA? I have classes that cut across those times and cannot miss them. But I submitted my abstract and was accepted to present this year, and I can be there in time for the start of judging at 2:45. Can I still participate?

You can still participate, but you will still have to make use of two options available for ensuring your poster is in place by 2 p.m. when judges will begin to look over the posters assigned to them. You may have a friend come by the CUB Sr. Ballroom between noon and 2 p.m. to hang the poster for you. Another option is to send an email to and make arrangements to drop off your poster the day before SURCA with event officials in CUE 519. Either way, you will be set up and prepared to present by 2:45. Keep the SURCA calendar in mind as you plan for that day.

What will the written feedback forms tell me about my presentation? I know I will receive them when I pick up my poster following the awards part of SURCA at 5:45 in CUB Auditorium.

We provide judges with feedback forms so they can leave you with constructive feedback on your work and presentation. You can expect these anonymous forms to provide you with insights from your judges that will help you make a better, or more clear, presentation on your work in the future. They might also share ideas about what you can do further in your research, scholarship, or creative activity. Some judges may also note what you did particularly well.

Ahead of SURCA, why should I look over the rubric that judges will use to evaluate my presentation?

The SURCA rubric tells you everything you need to know about what judges are looking for and how points will be assigned. Students with the highest points and overall ratings are more likely to win a SURCA award within their category. Hundreds of students have won awards at SURCA events since the first in 2012.

Judges typically visit three posters and listen to oral presentations from those students. They evaluate each presenter according to a common rubric that is designed to be applicable to all eight categories of SURCA presentations.

Examine the rubric and you’ll see that it is divided into poster, project, and presenter elements with criteria that can be rated “excellent” (worth 4 points) down to “absent” (for 0 points). Of the 16 criteria, two rate the poster, one the project, but 13 the presenter. Total points can range from 0 to 64, with most relating to your presentation! Plus, there is also a “judge’s overall rating” section that calls on the judge’s discretion as to the overall quality of your project and presentation.

I am curious about how detailed I can be in the abstract submitted to participate in SURCA. For example, I have included concentration data for a solution (i.e. 5mg/mL), but am not sure if this is too technical for the purposes of this abstract.

The level of technical detail that should be present in your abstract depends on your field. Your abstract should, however, be general enough that anyone can appreciate the significance of your research and get a sense for the work you accomplished through your project. Nevertheless, it should also be technical enough that an expert can evaluate the merit of your work.

This need for a balance between generality and technicality in abstract writing is why this question is best suited for your research mentor. Hopefully you have been in communication with her/him about your abstract, as she or he should review it before you submit it. To help you work more effectively with your mentor in writing your abstract, here are some abstract writing resources you can consult:

  • Elsewhere on our SURCA website is some general language about writing an abstract.
  • Also on the SURCA website are pdf versions of the abstract books from previous years. Take time to review them. You may want to review a few other abstracts from previous years to get an idea of what makes a good abstract and the level of detail needed.
  • Another great resource would be some of the journal articles you have read related to your own research. What level of detail do they have in their abstracts? Keep in mind that your research may not be “as far along” as a published journal article, so don’t let that discourage you.
  • The Office of Undergraduate Research offers information on “how to write an abstract” during the summer research program, and the PowerPoint slides are available on our website. Scroll to the summer research abstract session to view them.
  • If you can’t find the time to meet with your mentor, feel free to schedule an appointment with a research peer mentor and ask for some help from one of them.
For the section to choose my major on the abstract submission form, there is no option for my major. What should I enter?

Choose the major that is closest to what you are studying. For example, the first student that asked our office this question was studying linguistics. In this case, that student was advised to select “Humanities.”