North Central College - Naperville, IL

Information for Current Students

The submission deadline is Wednesday, February 17, 2016. This deadline will be strictly enforced.  The Rall Symposium will take place on the morning of Honors Day, Tuesday, May 17, 2016. In addition, Rall presenters will attend a dinner on Monday, May 16, 2016, as a way to celebrate your accomplishments and meet the other students with whom you will be presenting.

Who can submit?
Current North Central College undergraduates who have completed a significant scholarly project are eligible to submit an abstract. If your scholarship was not completed under the supervision of an NCC faculty member, you are required to work with a North Central faculty member who is willing to sponsor your participation in the Rall Symposium.

Is my project appropriate?
Your project is probably appropriate for the Rall Symposium if it is significant in scope and an original work (or original interpretation in the case of performance art). In previous years, students have presented Honors Theses, Independent Studies, Richter Fellowships, summer research, in-depth class research projects, storyboards of a theatrical performance, artistic performances, etc. We strongly encourage students from all disciplines to present their work.  If you are unsure if your project fits, please discuss it with your faculty mentor and ask us at 

Abstract Submission Instructions:

In preparing your abstract for submission to the Symposium, please adhere to the following guidelines.

Authors. Include all student authors on the project, whether or not they will be presenting at the Symposium. You will need to identify each student author by his or her name, student ID number, and provide graduation year and major(s). Also, please bear in mind that we will be sending all information via North Central email, and that all authors need to check their accounts on a regular basis. The first author will be the main contact for the project and will receive notification of any problems with the submission.

Faculty Sponsor. This is the faculty member with whom you have worked most closely on your project. If your work has been supervised primarily by someone at another institution or off-campus organization, you must still designate someone from the North Central faculty as a supervisor. Be sure that your faculty sponsor has reviewed and approved your abstract before you submit it.

Type of Presentation. Please be sure to select the presentation format for your work: poster or oral.  If you have two projects that you wish to present, one must be a poster and the other must be an oral presenation.  If you are not sure which format may be the most appropriate, please contact your faculty mentor or email

Title. Your title should convey the main topic of your project.

Abstract. An abstract is a brief statement that summarizes your presentation. It should include a brief overview of the purpose, method, and results of your research, and it should be apparent how this work is original scholarship or research. It is essential that your abstract describe the results of your project; what has been new ideas have been discovered or developed by your work. If your abstract doesn't effectively describe what new insights have been found, it will likely be rejected.  Please limit your abstract to 150 words or fewer (yes, we will check). Please note that abstracts that are too long will be returned to you for editing and will delay your acceptance to the symposium. It is expected that your faculty sponsor has reviewed your submission before you send it in. In addition, your submission will not be edited—misspellings, poor grammar, etc. will not be corrected after the information is received.

Bibliography. You must include a bibliography listing the five sources that are most central to your project.  The sources should  be cited using the appropriate style for your discipline (e.g., APA style) and should include all reference information.  You cannot submit an abstract without these sources. Please consult your faculty sponsor if you have any questions about your sources.


Ready?  Submit your abstract here.

Shortly after you submit your abstract, you should receive a confirming email in your North Central account about your submission. In about one week, the first author will receive another email which will either tell you that your abstract has been accepted for the Symposium or that there is a problem with your submission that needs correction before it will be accepted. Common problems are abstract length, lack of clarity about how this is original scholarship, and appropriate bibliographic sources.


Oral Presentation Guidelines

Your oral presentation will be limited to 12 minutes, with 2 minutes allotted for questions. Session moderators will strictly enforce these time limits. The goal of your presentation should be to tell your audience one central message. Once you have decided what your central message is (e.g., there are cross-cultural differences in attitudes toward mental illness), you need to make sure that you do not stray too far from it. Please adhere to the following guidelines in preparing for your talk:

  • Assume that your audience will have a limited ability to comprehend complex ideas while listening to a short research presentation. This is particularly true when your audience is not in your field of expertise. This does not mean you should give only an overview, but you may have to narrow the scope of your work to explain the details thoroughly of a smaller part of your research.
  • Use visual aids. Appropriate methods include slides (either shown on a traditional projector or via Power Point) and transparencies shown on an overhead projector. 
    • Use a large font (at least 18 point) to display text
    • Limit text to bullet points
    • Be sure that the colors you use for the background and the text will provide enough contrast 
    for your audience to see the text
    • Use charts and graphs to illustrate findings whenever possible
  • Include only the most important features of your project in your talk. This may mean that you do not talk about minor details of the project that you know about and find interesting. Sometimes you can offer these details during the question time after your talk. Remember to relate everything to your central message
  • Structure your talk as you would a paper. Give your audience an idea of what you intended to do and why, talk about what you did and how you did it, say what you found, and summarize by talking about why you think these findings are important or how you could expand upon the project in the future.
  • Practice delivering your talk in front of other people. Be sure that you don’t run over time, that you are speaking clearly and loudly enough, and that people are understanding your central message.
  • Talk to your faculty sponsor about the appropriate way to deliver your talk. In some disciplines it is appropriate to read a paper. In others, it is not appropriate to read from a paper but instead you should talk to the audience as if you were telling them a story—the story of you and your project. Use the slides or overheads to refer to your points, but speak to the audience, not the screen.


Poster Presentation Guidelines

The main advantage to presenting your work in a poster format is that you and the symposium attendees will be able to talk with each other about your project. Posters are displayed together in one room where attendees are free to wander from poster to poster, stopping to talk with presenters when a poster interests them. For this reason, you should prepare your poster with two ideas in mind:

1) People do not really want to read a lot of text—they want some text, but mostly, they want you to tell them what you did, and

2) Because people want you to tell them what you did, you should be prepared to give a 5-minute summary of your work and be able to answer questions as well.

Your poster should be designed to be 48-inches wide by 36-inches high and will be professional printed.  Printing will be done through the North Central College Print Shop.  Detailed guidance on poster preparation can be found at  You must email a powerpoint file (.ppt or .pptx) of your poster to no later than noon, Monday May 2 so that we can have the posters printed for the symposium. Files must be less than 8MB.  If you miss the deadline, you will be responsible for getting your poster printed at your own expense.

In preparing your poster, please adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Content
    • Minimize the amount of text. It helps to use bullets to highlight the main points you want people to know rather than to provide text in paragraph form
    • Make sure you have a banner or title slide that includes the title of your poster, the authors (NOT just those presenting), your faculty supervisor, and your departmental affiliation (e.g., History)
    • Begin with a slide stating the main objective or goal of your project
    • Include a very brief introduction in which you state the assumptions made in conducting your project, findings of previous research that influenced your project, or any other information that would be helpful for your audience to know before they learn about your project.
    • Clearly describe the method used to conduct your research. If applicable, include clear statements of the hypotheses tested.
    • Describe the main findings or outcomes of your project. Did you meet the objective you stated at the outset? Did your findings support your hypotheses? Be succinct in stating these points. Whenever possible, use pictures, tables and/or graphs to illustrate your findings.
    • Tell your audience why you think the outcome of your project is significant, what sort ofapplications it might have, ideas you have for improving upon or expanding on the project.
    • Include a bibliography or references slide.
  • Formatting your poster
    • Use a large font (at least 18 point) that is easy to read. It is easier for people to read fonts such as Times, Courier, Aerial, etc. You may want to use a bold font but do not use all capitals as this makes it more difficult for people to read the text.
    • Label each section of your report, e.g., Objectives, Background, Findings, etc.
    • Use simple language and minimize jargon whenever possible
    • Be brief—remember, bullet points are an excellent way to present major points
    • Do not use color or use it sparingly in text. DO use color in charts and graphs.
    • Order your panels by starting with the first slide at the top of the left panel, moving down the left panel and then back up to the top of the middle panel, down that panel, etc. This is so that two people reading your poster do not have to move back and forth in front of each other as they read.

Examples of posters from previous Rall Symposiums: