General Guidelines

Presenting your Research, Scholarship or Creative Activity
Scholarly presentations in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities at SCCUR conferences are presented either as a fifteen-minute oral presentation or as a poster presentation. Art presentations will be presented as part of an art exhibit. Video presentations and creative writing will be presented in oral session format. You may choose either a poster presentation or an oral presentation (not both) as your preferred medium when you submit your abstract.

Some General Guidelines

  • Be organized, understand the purpose and results of your research/scholarship/creative activity, and be able to communicate them to an audience through your presentation.
  • Use the format of your academic discipline. Most scholarly presentations in the sciences and some social sciences are organized with the following components: Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, and References. In some other disciplines these components may be less formal, but every scholarly presentations should have an introduction, address a question or problem, and discuss or analyze the results of its inquiry. Presentations in the visual and creative arts will not have these formal components, but should include an introduction to the work in the form of an artist’s statement. Consult with your faculty mentor concerning the proper form for your presentation.
  • Make your presentation as accessible as possible to a broad academic audience, without sacrificing its disciplinary rigor.
  • Anticipate possible questions. Take notes on questions and the names and addresses of the contacts you make while discussing your work.
  • Rehearse your presentation in advance.
  • Be truthful, credit all sources and respect your audience.

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Abstract Guidelines

Here you will find valuable information regarding how to prepare your abstract for submission, such as what should be included, how it should be formatted, and samples from different disciplines. If you don't find the information you're looking for, Contact Us and let us know how we can help. If you're ready to submit your abstract, head on over to the Submission page.

What is an abstract?

An abstract is a brief summary of a presenter's research, scholarly work, or creative activity. An abstract succinctly covers the main points of a presentation and varies somewhat depending on the discipline. Submitted abstracts will be read and evaluated by scholars in their fields, so presenters should consult with their mentors concerning discipline-appropriate formats. In the empirical sciences, an abstract typically contains a hypothesis statement, the rationale for the hypothesis, method of testing the hypothesis, results including a few summary data with statistics, and conclusions. In the humanities, an abstract contains a thesis statement, brief background for thesis development, methods employed or approach taken, new insight gained, and conclusions drawn. There is no clear formula for an abstract in the fine arts, either visual or performing. Typically abstracts in the fine arts contain background information, subject of the work, purpose or function of the work, audience, theories and methodologies employed, personal perspective, and meaning of the work. An abstract is not a review. It is not an outline, a listing of ideas, or a summary of the work of others. It does not reference the literature but is self contained and stands alone on its own merits of a new scholarly contribution. An abstract dwells on the main points of the scholarly presentation and the central contribution of the scholarly achievement. It typically ends with a concluding statement that gives coherence and synthesis.

What are the components of a typical abstract in the humanities?

Topic: What is the subject area in which you undertook your research?

Question: What is the problem or question that your research attempted to solve? What is its importance?

Evidence: What are the main bodies of evidence that you considered in approaching your question?

Conclusions: What did you conclude concerning your question? What are the components of a typical abstract in the sciences? Hypothesis or question: What problem are you trying to solve? What question are you pursuing? What idea are you testing? Rationale: Why is your problem/question/idea important? What is the broader scope and significance of your project? Methods: What methods did you employ or approach did you take to resolve your problem/question or to empirically test your idea? What was your experimental design and protocol? Results: What did you find during the course of your scholarly work? Specifically, what new insight did you gain? What did you learn, create or discover that potentially advances your discipline? Principle conclusions: Were your results consistent or inconsistent with your original hypothesis? How do your results inform your original question? What are the broader implications of your findings, especially as they relate to your original hypothesis or your question? What weaknesses or limitations remain? What are the original, creative contributions of your work to your discipline and how will your work potentially advance your field of specialization?

What are the components of a typical abstract in the fine arts?

While there is no clear formula for a fine arts abstract, either visual or performing, below are some components that are frequently included. You do not need to have all of these components in your abstract. Please note that abstracts in fine arts are often written in first person.

  • Necessary background information.
  • Subject of your body of work.
  • Purpose or function of your work.
  • Audience of your work.
  • Theories and methodologies that inform your work.
  • Personal perspective.
  • Meaning(s) of your work.

How will I be notified of abstract receipt and acceptance?

You will be notified of receipt of your abstract submission electronically using the email address entered on your submission form. If you enter an incorrect address, you will NOT receive notification. A copy of your abstract will be emailed to your faculty mentor. An abstract reviewer who is familiar with your discipline will be assigned to provide anonymous editorial comments on your submitted abstract. You will be notified by email when the reviewer has made a decision to ask for revisions, accept the abstract as is, or reject the abstract. If revisions are called for, you must read the reviewers comments and revise your abstract accordingly in order for your abstract to be accepted.

Sample Abstracts from Different Disciplines

Photosynthetic Plasticity in Post-fire Resprouts of the Chaparral Shrub, Heteromeles arbutifolia
Author: Mary C Zuniga, Northern Arizona University
Mentor: Stephen D Davis, Natural Science Division, Pepperdine University
Chaparral species that resprout after fire in the Santa Monica Mountains of California experience competition for light due to rapid growth of post-fire annuals or the presence of invasive species. If light limitation persists, post-fire resprouts may deplete carbohydrate stores and attempt photosynthetic compensation. Furthermore, they may shift leaf optical properties in response to shade. We tested these hypotheses by comparing the photosynthetic performance of post-fire resprouts of Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon) under three treatments: shade, irrigated, and control. Shaded plants were grown under low Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density [PPFD] of ~200 µmol m-2 s-1, which represents 10 percent of the maximum. The irrigated treatment eliminated water stress as a confounding factor. Six plants of each treatment were examined for their photosynthetic response to increasing light levels [light response curve] and to increasing CO2 levels [CO2 response curves]. Parameters measured were maximum net photosynthetic rate (Amax), light compensation point (Acomp), dark respiration (Rdark), CO2 inside the leaf at 2000 ppm external (Ci,2000), quantum yield (QY), chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv'/Fm'), stem elongation rate, stomatal conductance to water vapor diffusion (gs), predawn water potential (?pd), and leaf absorptance (a). Significant differences were found among all three treatments, in all parameters measured, with the exception of Fv'/Fm' (P > 0.05). These changes in photosynthetic performance among post-fire resprouts were consistent with acclimation to shade and acclimation to water stress and may be an adaptation among post-fire resprouts to compete for water and light with fast growing, post-fire annuals. Shifts in photosynthetic performance may be inadequate for survival under severe drought and the presence of vigorous competition with invasive species.


The Function of Depravity in the Multiple Pasts of Nightwood
Author: Rache F Tusler, Occidental College
Mentor: Martha Ronk, Department of English, Occidental College
Djuna Barnes' experimental modernist novel, Nightwood, depicts characters who are variously drunken, bestial, and obscene. In the world of Nightwood, depravity is valued over the civilized as a means of accessing the past. This essay identifies three separate "pasts": the historical, the developmental, and the evolutionary, all in operation within the characters. The historical past refers to events taking place before the individuals' births but after the evolutionary shift from early animals to present-day humans, such as Felix's past as a Jew in Roman times. The developmental past concerns the early stages in individual life, primarily childhood. The evolutionary past refers to the precultural period, which in Nightwood primarily concerns early humans as animals or beasts. The separate pasts are all repeatedly described as degenerate, violent and primitive. The characters that embrace depravity, such as Doctor O'Connor and Robin, are embracing the nature of their historical, evolutionary, and developmental pasts. Once they recognize where they have come from, they attain a sense of their current position, as well as an ability to simultaneously exist in previous times.

Social Sciences

Body Modifications and its Relationship to Gender and Age
Author: Lauren Hamachi, California State University Channel Islands
Mentor: Virgil H. Adams III, PhD., Psychology Program, California State University Channel Islands The physical body acts as a source of attraction and for an increasing number of individuals, a canvas portraying self-expression and self-identity. In examining the relationship between body modification and self-esteem, some have concluded that body modification is used to increase self-esteem levels. Yet other studies have not supported the notion of increased self-esteem following the incorporation of body art. The current study expands on this research by examining the relationship between self-esteem, global well-being, and body modifications. Body modification was defined as the presence of body piercings and/or tattoos and it was hypothesized that individuals with body modifications would have lower levels of self-esteem than those without body modifications. Results demonstrated that contrary to our hypothesis, no significant variance in self-esteem was accounted for by the presence of body modifications. Findings showed that an increase in the use of body modification tends to be endorsed by both younger respondents and females. Contrary to the hypothesis, body modification was not related to self-esteem or global well-being. Discussion focuses on the relationship between well-being and the use of body modifications.

Visual Arts

Windows into a Healthy Lifestyle
Author: Marian E Roan, Pepperdine University
Mentors: Susan Helm, Natural Science Division, Pepperdine University; Joseph Piasentin, Fine Arts Division, Pepperdine University

Art provides a medium through which one can portray the attitudes and behaviors of people. Art captures what words and descriptions cannot. It can be said that there is an emotional and psychological connection in a work of art. The purpose of this project is to make an emotional and relational appeal to people through a work of art that delves into the lifestyle of healthy people, more specifically healthy eaters. The art will be a culmination of the definitions and examples of healthy eating, healthy behaviors, and healthy lifestyle through out various stages in a person's life. The purpose is to show people the benefits of health and the high level of existence that can be maintained. A secondary purpose is to provide those searching to lead a healthy lifestyle some guidance into one definition of a healthy lifestyle. The title of the art piece created for this project is Windows into a Healthy Lifestyle. I translated the psychology of healthy eating into three distinct paintings where nutrition is the premise of each painting, but not central, as health encompasses more than food. The paintings capture one stage of life and aspects of health that are involved in each stage of life. The first, called "Youth" captures the energy, vibrancy, and revolt against tradition and convention of many university students and young adults, as well as the search for balance and vitality in the midst of academic or professional demands, and a packed social calendar. In the second window, "Family." I use a more traditional design to designate a time of life when one tends to settle down and care for one's family. "Wisdom" is a window with each canvas representing an antique pane of glass. The color variety shows the varying depths of health within life. My grandmother inspired this piece; at less than five feet, she is a figure of strength within my life and the lives of others, through her role as mother, grandmother, and friend.

Cross-Disciplinary(Chemistry, Library Science, and Visual Arts)

A Collaborative Study of Environmental Considerations in Art Preservation

Authors: John Laubacher, Joshua Dildine, Cassondra Tinsley, Pepperdine University
Mentors: Jane Ganske, Natural Science Division, Pepperdine University; Joseph Piasentin, Fine Arts Division, Pepperdine University; Mark Roosa, Dean of University Libraries, Pepperdine University A collaborative project between painting, art conservation, and chemistry was undertaken to achieve a broader understanding of factors involved in the creation of an oil-based wall painting, the environmental parameters contributing to its aging, and the development of a long term preservation plan for its display. Although strict limitations for the mixing of colors and the complexity of the composition were placed on the painter, inspiration was drawn from Richard Diebenkorn's ability to express the strength of his composition through line and color as seen in his Ocean Park Series. In addition to the creation of the 4' X 3' wall painting, the painting phase also included the duplication of ten derivative panels of one of the sections of the 4' X 3' painting for use in the testing of various environmental factors. Visible reflectance spectroscopy was used to monitor the aging effects of exposure to 720 W m-2 (~ 75% of noon-day sun) of visible light intensity from a gold halide lamp and to 60°C heat. After eleven weeks of light exposure, the percent visible reflectance of the most light- fast, metal-based pigments increased by 0.5 to 6.0%, while organic dyes increased by at least 20% and as much as 47% reflectance during the same exposure. Fourteen weeks of heat exposure at 60°C in darkness resulted in significant decreases in the reflectance of some pigments (up to 14.2%) while little change was observable for others. Fourier-transformed infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) was used to further structure analysis of the exposed pigments over time and to identify possible degradation products. The preventative conservation phase included monitoring and stabilizing the environment where the work will be displayed. A comprehensive preservation plan has taken into account the results of continuous monitoring of visible and UV light intensities, relative humidity, and temperature using a ELSEC 764 Environmental Monitor. The future storage, handling, and housing of the painting were considered as well as guidelines for emergency preparedness.

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For Poster Presenters

Now that your poster presentation has been accepted, you should register for the conference. On the day of the conference you should check in and get your registration materials. There are multiple Poster Presentation Sessions. Your Poster Session information will be emailed to you.

Poster Preparation Guidelines

Each poster has a 48” X 48” space allotment, so posters should not be more than 48” long or 48” high. Poster presentation boards are 48” high and 98” wide; each board will be assigned two posters. If your poster is more than 48” wide it will not fit within the allotted space, so please make sure your poster is within the size guidelines.

Title: The title should be short, descriptive, and centered across the top of your poster. The title should identify the subject and outcome of the study. Words should not be abbreviated in the title. The title should be easily readable from 5-10 feet away, and letters should be no less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) high. The title should have the first letter of major words in upper case, the rest in lower case.

Names: All authors' names and affiliations should appear directly below the title, and should be about 25% smaller than the title. Include authors' first and last names. Use abbreviations where appropriate.

The Body of the Poster: Besides an abstract, the poster for an empirical study normally includes an introduction, methods, results, discussion, and literature cited sections. Non-empirical studies should be organized appropriately for the discipline. Consult with your faculty mentor if you have questions about disciplinary conventions.

Graphics: A poster is a visual representation of your study and thus graphics should constitute a large portion of your poster. Graphics should be visible from 6 feet away. Label or describe any charts, tables, figures, graphs, or photos that you use. A number and a short "caption" should identify each figure, table, chart, or photo.

Text: Font size should not be smaller than 3 - 4 mm in height. No text should be less than 20 pt. For headings, use bold font that is 32 - 36 pt. For supporting text use 22 - 24 pt. Keep font type simple and consistent throughout. Don't use more than two fonts; instead use bold, italic and font size to set type differently. Times New Roman, Arial, and Garamond are suggested typefaces. Use upper and lower-case letters; all upper case is difficult to read.

Edit, review, and spell check all the elements of your poster display.

Space on a poster is limited, so pick wisely what to present. Your display should be self-explanatory and have a logical flow—others should be able to follow the order even if you are not present. Be consistent with your white space between sections of text, figures and headings. White space should be ample so the poster doesn't look “busy”. Stick to a color scheme that complements, contrasts, and gives continuity to your poster. You might want to start with a rough draft of your design on paper, or format your poster as a PowerPoint slide. Be sure to limit the amount of text; remember that your viewers will be standing a few feet back trying to read your poster, and “a picture is worth a thousand words” especially as part of a poster presentation. Note, posters in a horizontal format will ensure that words, figures, pictures, and tables are approximately at eye level.

Poster Set-Up Guidelines

Each poster presentation in a session will be assigned a number that can be found in the listing of poster presentations. That number corresponds to a number on a poster board. Make sure you are at the right spot to mount your poster. Posters will be mounted with push pins that will be provided. NO TAPE, VELCRO, GLUESTICKS, or other permanent fasteners should be used.

Posters should be removed immediately following the designated poster session. Posters that are not removed by their presenters will be removed by the conference organizers, and may not be able to be recovered. We strongly urge all poster presenters to remove their posters immediately following their designated poster session.

Presenting Your Poster

All presenters should plan to be present at their poster for the entire poster session. During the poster session, stand to the side of your display so you don't block viewers. Prepare and practice a two-minute summary of your project. Often viewers ask for a synopsis of your ideas and findings. This time for dialogue and exchange of ideas facilitates networking with interested viewers. It is important to speak and interact professionally. You will also receive insightful feedback and personal exposure during the poster session. Furthermore, you will enjoy interaction with other poster presenters during the other poster sessions.


  • Titles should be at least 2 inches high.
  • The body type for the main sections should be at least 20 points.
  • Words should be large enough to be easily read from 6 feet away; but don't use all caps.
  • Limit text: “A picture is worth a thousand words”

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For Oral Presenters

Remember that oral presentations are part of a panel of four or five presentations, usually addressing a common subject matter. In the sciences and some social sciences, presentations are usually made from notes and are accompanied by visual materials such as tables, graphs, and photographs (most often in PowerPoint). In the humanities and some other social sciences, presentations are usually read aloud from a prepared text, sometimes with accompanying visual materials. Work with your faculty mentor to produce an oral presentation appropriate to your discipline.

Oral presentations should be about 10-12 minutes in length with 3-5 minutes available for questions. Please time your presentation in advance with the realization that the actual presentation will take a few minutes longer than your rehearsal. Practice in front of a friend and let him or her assist you in ways to keep your presentation within the time limit so there is time for questions. At the conference, your session moderator will be instructed to keep presentations inside their time limits, even if that means curtailing talks. This will keep all concurrent sessions on schedule and allow audiences to plan their attendance based on time of day, building, and room number.

Computers and Projectors:

Computers, projectors, and screens will be provided for those of you planning to do PowerPoint presentations. Please do not bring your own computers, projectors, or screens. Your presentation must be in PowerPoint format. Presenters will also be provided with document projectors upon request, well in advance. Other media, such as overhead projectors, may be available upon advanced request. All presenters must indicate clearly the equipment they will need when abstracts are initially submitted.

PowerPoint Presentations

Here are some general rules for those making PowerPoint presentations. They are necessary to ensure smooth, effective presentations.

Before the Conference:

  1. Keep words to a minimum on each PowerPoint slide; make sure they are readable from the back of the room. Words should be large enough to read from several feet away, but don't use all caps. Avoid using light colors for words, such as yellow or orange. The size of the typeface should be at least 12 point.
  2. Test your presentation on a PC if you made it on a Macintosh Computer. The conference computers use Windows 7 installed with PowerPoint 2007. If you prepared your presentation on a Mac, test it carefully on a PC before coming to the conference. Pay special attention to any audio and video clips.
  3. Test your presentation on a different computer from the one that you regularly use. This is the best way to discover any technical problems ahead of time. Test your presentation in its final form using your flash drive, prior to attending the conference.
  4. Bring your presentation to the conference on a USB flash drive. You may also bring a back-up copy on a CD or DVD. We highly recommend that you bring two copies of your PowerPoint presentation, one as a backup.
  5. Prepare a hardcopy backup of visuals so that in the worst-case situation (complete computer failure) you'll still be able to present your work. We will have some document projectors that can project hardcopies under emergency situations. It is better than having no visuals to accompany you presentation should an emergency arise.

Participating in Your Panel

A faculty moderator will chair your panel. He or she will introduce you and other presenters to the audience, describe the session's topic, keep time, and facilitate brief discussion following each presentation. It is essential that panels stay on schedule; moderators will stop presenters if they appear likely to run over their allotted time.

  1. Arrive before the beginning of your session and stay for the duration. Sit at the front of the room. Don't arrive late or leave following your own presentation; this is discourteous to other presenters.
  2. Check all support materials in advance (PowerPoint presentations, handouts, etc.) to avoid unnecessary delays in starting your presentation. Please follow the time guideline for uploading presentations.
  3. Have a backup plan in the event of equipment failure (for instance, if you are using PowerPoint, we recommend that you bring a paper hard copy of your presentation in the unlikely event of a total computer failure).
  4. Listen to other panelists' presentations and participate during the question and discussions that follow.


  • Rehearse your presentation in advance with friends or family. Make sure that it is no more than 12 minutes long. Ask your audience what they have learned to see if you're getting your point across.
  • Face your audience; speak slowly and clearly and project your voice to the back of the room.
  • Whether you are working from notes, PowerPoint, or reading from a text, make eye contact with your audience as frequently as you can.
  • If you're speaking from notes, number them so that you won't lose your place, and remember the general outline of the points that you want to make and the order in which you'll make them. If you're reading, read slowly enough to understand what you're reading (at a rate of about two minutes per double-spaced page).
  • If you are using visual aids (e.g. PowerPoint), prepare them well in advance and make sure they are clear. Keep words on slides to a minimum.
  • Watch your audience response; if they seem lost, slow down.
  • Students should bring presentations in a PC-compatible format and on an external USB memory drive.
  • Presentations prepared on a Mac must be rehearsed at least once in advance on a PC to ensure compatibility.
  • Follow time guidelines to upload presentations.
  • Interact with other panelists in your session. Do not present and then leave your session.

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For Moderators

Your role as moderator is extremely important to the success of this conference. We thank you for taking this responsibility seriously and for the service you render our next generation of scholars.

For many of the presenters, and for a good portion of the audience, your session represents their first exposure to scholarly presentations in the context of a regional conference. Therefore one main goal of a session moderator is to provide a professional atmosphere and training for undergraduate and high school presenters. To realize this goal, moderators should adopt the following:

  1. Remind the audience that all presentations will be kept on schedule and begin at its individual time as posted in the abstract book and on the session door. This will allow each presentation to be synchronized across concurrent sessions. Thus, if for some reason a presenter cancels at the last minute, please wait to start the next presentation until its scheduled time.
  2. Remind presenters that 10-12 minutes are allowed for each talk, followed by 3-5 minutes for questions.
  3. Ask the audience to please adhere to conference etiquette by keeping their questions to the very end of each talk and minimizing movement between sessions and rooms. If participants must move to another room, they should do so prior to the beginning, or at the very end, of each talk, in correspondence with the times listed in the schedule.
  4. Arrive 10 minutes prior to the beginning of your session. Introduce yourself to the student volunteer(s) who should already be present in the room. They will assist you in making certain that PowerPoint presentations are uploaded in advance; LCD projectors and computers are operational, room lights are regulated, and in finding the location of laser pointers. Ask how to operate the laser pointer and how to advance the LCD projector, so you can explain to presenters.
  5. Informally introduce yourself to presenters, in advance of the session's beginning, and ask how best to pronounce their names, co- author's names, and faculty mentor's name at the time of introduction. If titles look challenging, ask for clarification in advance.
  6. Bring an accurate watch or timepiece to keep time.
  7. If needed, demonstrate to presenters, at the very beginning of each session, how to use the laser pointer and remote advance on the PowerPoint computer.
  8. Large cards with times of 5 min, 3 min, and 1 min printed on them will be available in the room so that you can display them to presenters to assist them in finishing on time. It is a good policy to physically stand up at the 1 min warning to let the presenter know that you are serious, and that they must conclude.
  9. It is a good idea to read the abstract submitted by each presenter in your session, well in advance of the session's beginning. In the process, formulate one or two questions, as a back-up, should there be a lull at the end of the talk, with no question from the audience. Please use your questions as a back up so that the moderator does not dominate, but facilitates interaction with the audience. Note: submitted abstracts "should be available" on line, at the SCCUR 2016 website, at least two days in advance of the conference. Thus you can read the abstracts in advance of the conference date, [DATE NEEDED].

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