Research Paper Presentation Guidelines For Students

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An oral presentation provides a chance for students to present their research by reading a paper and/or showing PowerPoint slides to a group of interested faculty, students, and judges. These presentations will allow students to experience what it is like to present their research at a conference in their discipline.

Students making oral presentations will be organized into one-hour sessions.

During each session, four students (or four groups of students working on the same project) from varying disciplines will present. Each student or group will have 12 minutes to present, followed by two minutes for questions and answers from the audience. A timer will sound at the 10-minute mark, letting you know when you have only two minutes left to wrap up.

At each session a faculty moderator will introduce the students and keep track of the allotted time. Several faculty judges will also be present at each session.

Guidelines for Oral Presentations:
  1. As with poster presentations, students are required to submit an abstract of their oral presentation via the Abstract Online Submission Form in ValpoScholar.
  2. If you have PowerPoint slides, you will need to get a copy of those slides to the director of SOURCE at least 48 hours in advance. The director will then upload all PowerPoint slides onto the computer in the presentation room. You must also bring a flash drive copy of your slides as a backup on the day of the presentation.
  3. Practice your presentation in advance so that you know it will be within the 12-minute mark.
  4. A good rule of thumb is that it takes two minutes to read one page, so your paper should be no longer than six standard, double-spaced pages.
  5. Although you are not expected to memorize your presentation, you should be familiar enough with the material to make frequent eye contact with your audience.
  6. Handouts are not required, but if you choose to bring handouts to your presentation, you should bring 10 copies.
  7. A good oral presentation will:
    • Summarize your research succinctly: stating your thesis, argument, purpose, and research methods
    • Present the evidence that supports your thesis
    • Point out any conclusions you have reached
    • Explain the larger significance of your research for your field
  8. Finally, students should consult with their faculty sponsor about the best way to present their material. Your faculty sponsor has probably made many such presentations and can give you some good tips.


Please review the Rules of Competition for details on research paper and abstract preparation and other important details. You are responsible for meeting all criteria set forth in the Rules of Completion.

Students will present their research in oral sessions to a panel of judges, their peers and other guests. The judges evaluate the presentations on a set of criteria and rank them accordingly. More information on the national judging process and judges are included in the Rules of Competition.


Session Timing

The research presentation may not exceed 12 minutes, followed by a maximum 6-minute question period. A session moderator will aid the student speaker in maintaining this schedule and in fielding questions from the audience. The procedure for maintaining the time includes a 10-minute signal for the student, and finally a 12-minute signal. At the 12-minute point, the student speaker must stop the presentation even if he or she has not finished. Following the presentation, the session moderator will ask for audience questions. The speaker may entertain questions while the exchange appears interesting and relevant. Questions intended to harass the student speakers will not be allowed by the session moderator. The speaker should repeat a question before answering so the audience may understand the entire dialogue.


Use of Audio Visuals - Available equipment

Available audio-visual equipment in each session at National includes: (1) LCD projector; (2) projection screen; and (3) a laser pointer. Additionally, PC-based computers will be in each session room configured with Microsoft Powerpoint and Adobe Acrobat. The use of other software requires students to bring their own equipment. Mac users should plan to bring a Mac adapter to plug-in to available equipment.

Equipment operators will not be available in each session. Students should number visuals in sequence so the presenter can easily reshow one. Many times, visuals are re-shown during the questioning period.

For more a complete list of requirements and guidelines, please refer to the Rules of Competition.



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