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Research Symposium FAQ's

Below are many frequently asked questions about the Undergraduate Research Symposium. If any of your questions are not answered here, email


Is the symposium going to take place this year? 

The symposium will not take place in the spring 2020 term per University guidelines. We are so excited to say that over 200 students submitted presentation abstracts, and these will be published to the Conference Proceedings Schedule by April so that interested parties can see a glimpse of the great work being carried out by undergraduate students on grounds. 

What kind of “undergraduate research” is presented at the Symposium?
We invite research projects from all disciplines and encourage students to submit creative work for the symposium as long as it has an original, scholarly aspect to it. For all submissions, students must be working under the guidance of a faculty mentor who can speak to the quality of the research; this includes students working on faculty research as well as students working on their own research under the supervision of faculty. Capstone projects and senior theses are good examples of the second type of student research. The Undergraduate Research Symposium is not an appropriate venue for “position papers,” where students are presenting opinions rather than scholarly research.

Very generally speaking, most research is characterized by the evidence-based exploration of a question or hypothesis that is important to those in the discipline in which the work is being done. Students, then, must know something about the research methodology of a discipline (what constitutes “evidence” and how do you obtain it) and how to decide if a question or line of inquiry that is interesting to that student is also important to the discipline, to be able to embark on a research project.

How do I attend the Symposium
he Symposium is free and open to the public. In the weeks before the event, OUR will publish the Online Proceedings with listings of times and locations for specific presenters.

How are Mentor Awardees chosen?
Leading up to the Symposium, presenters are given an opportunity to nominate their mentor for the award. Nominations are considered by a small review committee. UVa Faculty and postdocs are all eligible for nomination.

For Students

How do I apply to present?
The application process is done entirely online through our online system, Qualtrics. You may submit your application prior to March 6, 2020 on the Abstract Submission Portal.

Can I present research I did with a faculty mentor who is not from UVA?
Yes. You are welcome to apply if you are a UVa undergraduate, regardless of where you actually performed your research. If you did your research project at another institution, make sure that the faculty mentor you worked with approves your abstract submission.

I am still early stages of my research. Can I still apply?
Yes. You do not need to have completed your research to be considered. Many students present research that is ongoing. It is perfectly acceptable to share preliminary results or anticipated findings at the Symposium.

Can I present two or more research projects at the Symposium?
Occasionally students are permitted to present two projects, but no more than two. Presenting two projects requires special approval by OUR. If you would like to present two projects please send drafts of both abstracts to along with a short statement of why you would like to present two projects. If you do present two projects, then you must conduct one poster presentation and one oral presentation, and the projects must be on separate research topics. If you are both presenting a poster and an oral presentation, OUR highly recommends that one of the projects is a group project with other undergraduates.

Can I invite friends, family, and other faculty?
Certainly! The event is free and open to the public.

Is the Undergraduate Research Symposium open to artists?
Absolutely! We encourage visual and performing artists to submit abstracts to participate in the Symposium.

I am not sure how to begin writing an abstract. Is there someone who can help me get started?
Yes, the OUR facilitates abstract writing workshops, where you will learn the basics of abstract construction and see various examples. The workshop series link is here.

What happens if major developments occur in my research project between the time I apply and the Symposium date?
You are welcome to note those changes as you develop your final presentation or poster; this might include slightly amending your abstract included in your final presentation. However, the abstract submitted, which will be printed in the Symposium Proceedings, cannot be amended after the deadline.

For Research Mentors

My students are presenting at the Symposium. How do I find out when and where their poster or presentation will be?
In the weeks before the Symposium, OUR will publish the Online Proceedings on our website, which will allow you to search for your students, find out the times/locations of the presentations, and print a pdf of their abstracts.