Undergraduate Research Symposium Judging Criteria

Undergraduate Research Symposium Judging Criteria

Poster Judging Categories

  • Arts, Humanities, Business, and Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
  • Visual Arts (view the visual arts judging rubric)
  • Information Literacy 

Judging Criteria

The purpose of a poster exhibit is to convey to a wide audience a research project's significance to scholars in the field and its potential significance to the general public. In addition to the categories listed below, judges will be asked to give their feedback on whether or not each project is of high enough quality to represent the campus at the regional research event. Exhibits will be judged on their quality in four areas:


The exhibit must include:

  • Student name (or names, if more than one student is presenting the exhibit)
  • Collaborators, adviser(s), and department(s)
  • A short title of the exhibit
  • Funding sources (if applicable)
  • Objectives
  • Significance to the field
  • Significance to society in general
  • Methods
  • Results, interpretation of results and conclusions, and directions for future research if the project is completed (creative exhibits must include discussion of meaning and/or reflections on the body of work exhibited)
  • Use of references to document sources used for the project.


The core of each exhibit is a poster with text and graphics intended for a general audience. PowerPoint-style presentations are not allowed as a substitute; however, a laptop or tablet may be used as a supplement to the poster or exhibit:

  • Poster should attract attention and convey important information about the project.
  • Language should be simple and descriptions brief. Excessive jargon should be avoided; necessary technical terms should be defined.
  • Spelling and grammar must be correct.
  • Photographs, drawings, charts, tables, or graphs should be simple, well organized, and carefully chosen when used to explain complicated technical concepts to a wide audience.
  • Poster should not exceed 42 inches (3.5 feet) in width and 48 inches (4 feet) feet in height (NCUR recommendation 42" wide x 36” tall).

Oral Presentation

Each student should prepare to describe and discuss his or her exhibit, tailored specifically to make the work understandable to a non-expert audience.

  • Description should be clear and concise, and should include the major points presented on the poster.
  • Presentation must not exceed 10 minutes; judges will be instructed to observe this time limit. Note: A videotape or demonstration cannot be submitted for the discussion.
  • In cases where the student worked with collaborators, including his or her adviser, the presentation should clearly describe the student's role in the overall project.


  • All in all, does the project show creativity?
  • Are there indications of original, critical thought?
  • Does the project exhibit a thorough investigation of the topic?

Information Literacy

The University Libraries Information Literacy Award recognizes scholarly work based on a foundation of careful background research and literature review. The award is given to entries that demonstrate excellence in information literacy through the following:

  • Showcasing your research process and strategies
  • Selection of sources that contribute to your argument and ideas
  • Social, ethical, or economic considerations in accessing information
  • Credit and proper citation for any quotes, tables, graphs, images, and other content displayed