Penn State Harrisburg Student Symposium Abstract/Proposal & Presentation Guidelines

Penn State Harrisburg Student Symposium Abstract/Proposal & Presentation Guidelines

The abstracts will be printed into a program booklet. We are requesting that the abstracts be written in a similar format to facilitate the program’s compilation.

Abstract Format

Please prepare your abstract in 12 pt. Times New Roman font and single-spaced. The abstract should contain the following components:

TITLE: The entire title should be in bold. Only the first letter of each word should be capitalized, unless a known acronym is used. Only scientific names should be italics. You need not add a period at the end of the title.
Example:  Improving the Efficiency of Mail Surveys Via Return Receipt Introductory Postcards

AUTHORS: Most likely you will have at least 2 authors, yourself and your academic advisor. The first author will be the student author who is presenting and for 2 or 3 authors, the last author is often the faculty mentor. For multiple author lists, the student presenting is listed first and the remaining authors may be in alphabetical order. Provide the name of the program of study for the authors at the end of the author list. For multiple programs, indicate each program with a superscript and provide the program list at the end of the author list. For artistic or creative presentations follow the same format listing the names of the performers.

Student X.Y.1, Bloggs F.2, and Smith, J.P.2
1Graduate Student, Communications;
2School of Humanities

Body of Abstract/Proposal

The body of the abstract/proposal is limited to 300 words. Do not include the title or authors in this section. Citations are not allowed in the body of the abstract/proposal. Depending on the nature of the research or project, the abstract/proposal will contain a brief statement of the problem, motivation or context within the field, experimental or theoretical methods used or proposed results or preliminary results if available, and a conclusion. The abstract/proposal should be written for a general audience, and you should consider defining any specialized terminology associated with your project. All acronyms should be defined.

Research Support

Please list all sources of financial support for the project.

Compliance Notations

(also see abstract cover page) There are federal regulations that require:

  • Prior IRB approval before presenting work about/with any living human subject.  If your work includes living human subjects in any way, please provide the IRB approval number for this project.
  • Prior approval for use of vertebrate animals.  If relevant, please include IACUC approval number.

Tips for Paper/Poster Presentations#

Oral Presentation

The oral presentation of a paper is usually limited to a 10-12 minute presentation of your research with an additional 3-5 minutes for questions and answers (Total 15 minutes). A computer, audiovisual equipment and an internet connection will be available for your use. 

To ensure that your presentation runs smoothly, it is important to:

  • Send your PowerPoint to Stephanie ( 2 days before the program so it can be uploaded and tested.
  • Arrange a time to “test” your PowerPoint on the Gallery Lounge computer ahead of time.
  • If you use anything other than a PC based PowerPoint presentation, check with Stephanie FAR AHEAD of time so we can resolve incompatibility issues.

Recognize the constraints imposed on your presentation:

  1. The short time of only 12 minutes (with an additional 3 minutes for questions) [NOTE: The actual time may vary somewhat depending on the number of presenters (i.e. reduced to 10 minutes for presentation, 2-3 minutes for questions) 
  2. The limits on attention and comprehension of your audience members who are listening to (not reading) many presentations each day, some of which are outside their area of expertise
  3. The context of the session in which people may enter and leave at any time causing distractions and a less than-ideal listening/learning situation
  4. The varied backgrounds of your audience so that your presentation is not too technical yet easy to understand.

Therefore, it is recommended that in preparing your talk you:

  1. Decide on a limited number of the significant ideas you want your audience to comprehend and remember.
  2. Minimize details (of procedure, data analysis, and literature review) when highlighting the main ideas you want to transmit.
  3. State clearly in simple, jargon-free terms what the point of the research is, what you discovered, and what you think it means—its conceptual, methodological, or practical value.
  4. Employ some redundancy in repeating important ideas to enhance comprehension and recall.
  5. Write out your presentation as a mini-lecture (with a listening audience in mind), starting with an outline that you expand into a narrative.
  6. Practice delivering it aloud in order to learn it well, to make its length fit in the time allocated, and to hear how it sounds.
  7. Get feedback both from tape-recorded replay of your delivery and from critical colleagues who listen to it.
  8. Do not read your paper to the audience. Speak your ideas directly to your audience, referring—if necessary only—to an outline of key points and transitions.(This may not apply to presentations of creative writing, e.g. some areas of humanities)
  9. Try to speak loud enough, clear enough, and with sufficient enthusiasm to hold the attention of your audience despite distractions (internal and external).
  10. State your final conclusions and end on time.

It is an honor to have the opportunity of being in the spotlight with an audience of peers giving you their time and attention. You have an obligation to them (and to your profession) to use that occasion wisely and well.

Poster Presentation

Poster boards and tables will be available for hanging or exhibit style placements.  The production of the poster and associated costs (printing) are the responsibility of the presenters and/or their respective school. The Office of Research and Outreach may have some limited funds available to cover poster printing costs in exceptional circumstances.

Poster presentations provide the opportunity for the presenter and the audience to talk with one another. A physical arrangement similar to an exhibit area is used for this interaction. The most common size for posters is 3.5 - 4 feet high by 5.5 - 6 feet wide. Check to make sure your poster adheres to the requirements of the symposium/conference at which you will be presenting. A relatively large number of posters will be displayed during each poster session. During the designated period, the audience moves through the poster displays, stopping to interact with those who are presenting research that is of special interest to them. Thus, the interaction between the presenters and the audience is likely to be more meaningful than is typically the case in paper sessions. Therefore, when constructing your poster, remember to utilize the opportunities provided by this method of presentation.

Poster presentation recommendations:

  1. Construct the poster to include the title, the author(s), affiliation(s), and a description of the research, highlighting the major elements that are covered in the abstract.
  2. Minimize detail and try to use simple, jargon-free statements.
  3. Remember that pictures, tables, and figures work well in a poster display
  4. If you can, use color in your visuals.
  5. Make sure your lettering is neatly done and is large enough to be read from a distance, i.e., do not simply pin up a set of typed pages--reserve these for your handout.
  6. Consider using a flow chart or some other method of providing the viewer with a guide to inspecting your display.
  7. Don't overwhelm the viewer with excessive amounts of information; rather, construct a poster display that enhances conversation.
  8. Be ready to pin up and take down your poster at specified times.
  9. Be sure to bring thumbtacks with you; however, we will also have some available.  

It is an honor to have the opportunity to present at a research conference. You have an obligation to prepare a neat, well-organized display and to be present at your display for the entire poster session period if possible. With a little thought and creativity, you can make your presentation a very pleasing one for both you and your audience.

Make sure to have your major advisor and other colleagues if available proofread the poster before printing.

Printing locations: Although you may use any number of outside vendors to print your poster, the Center for Survey Research located in Church Hall is a good option. You may contact them at 948-6173 for more info. However, prior to printing your poster, please check with your department or college for suggestions on where it may be printed, because many departments and colleges can direct you to convenient and sometimes low-cost printing facilities.

The original document for these guidelines can be found on the website of The International Honor Society in Psychology.

It has been revised to meet the needs of our audience under the fair use provisions.  Psi Chi also credited the Western Psychological Association as their original source.