Frequently asked questions

Below you can find answers to the following frequently asked questions:
  • What happens at a research conference?
  • If I’m presenting, what do I need to do?
  • Where will registration be?
  • How much does it cost to attend NURDS2011?
  • Will food be provided?
  • Can I get internet access?
  • What should I wear for my talk or poster presentation?
  • How do I write a good abstract?
  • How do I give a good oral presentation?
  • How do I give a good data blitz presentation?
  • How do I give a good poster presentation?
What happens at a research conference?
At a conference like NURDS, researchers (in this case, undergraduate researchers) share their newest results with their peers. There will be oral presentations (15 minutes each), short data blitz oral presentations (5 minutes each), and poster presentations. You will not be able to see every single presentation, as some are running in parallel. Therefore, you should read through the program before coming to the conference and select presentations that are potentially important for your work and make sure that you attend those. If you want to switch from one room to another one during a session, that is OK. Best is to do that between the talks. If you ask a question after a talk, be polite and professional. Remember that this is not a quiz, but for you in the audience a chance to learn something new from the expert, the presenter.
The poster session is a great place to get a broader overview on what others are doing, to meet people, to exchange ideas, to share the excitement about your project. During the NURDS workshops you will be able to see new scientific approaches, get your hands dirty with a cool procedure, allow your brain to recover from all the talks and posters, and to have some fun.

If I’m presenting, what do I need to do?
If you are presenting a talk or data blitz, make sure that you upload your presentation to one of the computers when you register. Make yourself familiar with the room in which you are will be presenting. Out of respect to the other speakers you should attend the whole session in which you are presenting. It is very bad and rude behavior to just walk in for your talk, and leave right after! Make sure that you sit on a seat close to the aisle, so you can get up easily when the session chair introduces you. Your PowerPoint file will be started for you and will show your title slide. A laser pointer will be provided.
After your presentation you will be asked questions from the audience. This is not a quiz or exam! Remember that you are the expert on this topic. People in the audience want to learn more about your work, so teach them!

Where will registration be?
Registration is in the Alfond building, third floor. Follow the NURDS signs which will be posted all over campus.

How much does it cost to attend NURDS2011?
There will be a registration fee of $20 per person. This fee includes access to all talks and posters, attendance of the workshops, free dinner on Saturday and lunch on Sunday, and potentially even free housing.

Will food be provided?
Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch will be provided. Coffee will be provided during breaks. If you have any special nutritional needs, please be aware that we might not be able to meet those.

Can I get internet access?
Free wireless internet access is available on the UNE campus.
You can sign in under the guest access option.

What should I wear for my talk or poster presentation?
Dress professionally and wear comfortable shoes.

Why do I need a good title and a good abstract for my presentation?
At a conference there are many presentations, often even in parallel sessions. It is often not possible to attend all presentations. That means, conference attendees will read through the program and decide which talks to attend and which posters to find. The first information they go by is the TITLE, the second is the ABSTRACT!

A good title is short, concise, descriptive and exciting! Think about the following:
- avoid using abbreviations
- state the animal or plant species you are working with (if you are working with a plant or animal species)
- state the key finding
- make it interesting

In your abstract you describe the complete study in a very short and concise way. All the important findings and conclusions need to be mentioned in the abstract.
A well designed abstract tells the reader the context of your study, your hypothesis, your experimental approach, your key findings, and your conclusion. Therefore, an abstract is structured similar to a research paper.
It is NOT enough to say “... results will be presented …” or “ ... the implications of these findings will be discussed.”
Keep the abstract short (250 words maximum)!
First write your abstract with all the information and data that you think you need to include. Then, delete the unnecessary details, reword to make it shorter, delete more details, reword even more, … until you are at 250 words. This process takes a while, but by focusing on the absolute essential information and therefore the most exciting part of your project, it will lead to a good, short, concise, and interesting abstract.

Some good info about writing a good abstract can be found here:
or here:

How do I give a good oral presentation?
1. Understand your material and prepare your presentation for the specified audience. At NURDS everybody in the audience will be an undergraduate in a natural science major.

2. Practice and rehearse your speech multiple times before your presentation. You should do this in an environment you’re comfortable with, such as to friends, colleagues or family. Make sure that your presentation is about 13 minutes long, not any longer, and not much shorter.

3. When presenting your presentation make sure to speak slowly and clearly throughout the talk. However, don’t get caught up on a slide. You should pace yourself averaging ~ 1 slide per minute.

4. Make sure your body language isn’t rigid, and don’t sit down! You need to have subtle movements that wont distract your audience, but will keep their attention on you at the same time.

5. Maintain eye contact with your audience throughout the presentation. You want to acknowledge their presence and make them feel involved, so pick a few people to maintain eye contact with.

6. Do not read from notes for extended lengths of time. You should know your topic well enough that you use your notes as a guide through your presentation, glancing at them occasionally.

7. At the end of your presentation return to your main points and summarize them clearly. Leave your listeners with a positive impression and a sense of completion.

8. Leave enough time for questions at the end of your presentation. When asked questions, it’s OK to say “I don’t know,” but you should make your best attempt to answer the question once you have acknowledged this. Gauge questions as they come and make sure you are comfortable with your topic enough that you can adapt your answer to a specific field of science, i.e. you could be asked questions by scientists unfamiliar with your field of research. Remember, this is not a quiz. You are the expert on this topic and the audience wants to learn.

A great website with lots of helpful information on how to structure a presentation can be found here:

A very good PowerPoint presentation on how to present data, how to make slides, how not to make slides, and more, can be downloaded here:

Additional information can be found here:
and here:

How do I give a good data blitz presentation?
The data blitz presentations are for students in the early stage of a research project, where probably some promising data are already collected, but the project is far from completion. With this presentation you can show what you are currently doing and what you hope to achieve. More importantly, you might get great feedback and ideas about how to continue the project. Even collaborations might get started if you find another group working on a related project.

To give a good data blitz presentation, please see all the comments on how to give a good oral presentation. Additionally, you might want to follow these guidelines:
1 slide with Title of the project, author and co-authors
1 slide to frame the study. Introduce the background or problem. Keep this part short!
1 slide which states the hypothesis that you are testing
1 slide methods, if necessary (for many standard techniques you can state what you did while explaining the results)
1-2 slide(s) preliminary results, outlook, expected findings, relevance of the study

Remember that you have only 3 minutes to talk! Practice your presentation well and make sure that you are done after 3 minutes. Especially for the data blitz the 2 minutes discussion with questions from the audience is the most helpful part for you to get feedback!

How do I give a good poster presentation?
Purpose of a Poster
- A poster is the standard format for scientists to present research at conferences
- It allows a large number of researchers to present their work and get feedback
- It is often used to present work in progress or recently completed research
- It is a great way for networking and get to know other researchers who are interested in similar topics

Role of the poster presenter:
- Provide a “guided tour” through the poster
- Answer questions about your research project
- Do not expect that people will read every word of your poster. Be prepared to give a short overview of your research (1 minute max.). Go into more detail if viewers show interest and ask questions. Remember that viewers want to see many different posters. Do not monopolize their time.
- Prepare short modular descriptions of specific elements of the poster to choose among in response to viewers’ questions

What a poster should include:
  • Title (short, understandable, interesting)
  • Authors: your name, faculty advisor’s name, names of collaborators, school and department
  • Introduction, Background information (short!)
  • Hypothesis
  • Methods and Materials (short!)
  • Results or Findings
  • Discussion
  • Summary:
    • if the project is completed, this will be your research conclusions
    • if the project is on-going, this can include what remains to be done
  • Acknowledgments: include any sources of funding you received, if your advisor is a co-author, he/she does not need to be mentioned here again
  • References (small font)
Tips for effective research poster design and presentation:
  • Design poster to focus on two or three key points.
  • Adapt materials to suit expected viewers’ knowledge of your topic and methods.
  • Design questions to meet their interests and expected applications of your work.
  • Paraphrase descriptions of complex statistical methods.
  • Spell out acronyms if used.
  • Minimize the use of abbreviations.
  • Replace large detailed tables with charts or small, simplified tables.
  • Accompany tables or charts with bulleted annotations of major findings.
  • Describe direction and magnitude of associations.
  • Use confidence intervals, p-values, symbols, or formatting to denote statistical significance.
Layout and Format
  • Organize the poster into background, data and methods, results, and study implications.
  • Divide the material into vertical sections on the poster.
  • Use at least 14-point type in the body of your poster, at least 40-point for the title.
modified after: Jane E. Miller Preparing and Presenting Effective Research Posters. Health Research and Educational Trust. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2006.00588.x

Check out “Steps for Composing an Effective Poster” on this site:
or even a peer reviewed published paper on poster design: