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Abstract Writing Guide

2014 CERCA Abstract Book.

2013 CERCA Abstract Book.

Register for a Poster Design Workshop.

Abstract Writing Assistance. Don't write alone! Experienced writing tutors in the Center for Writing Excellence can assist you with any stage of abstract-writing. Visit the link above to view locations, hours, and to make an appointment.

Visiting? We have information and free parking permits available here.

CERCA 2015 start your application!

CERCA 2015 is the week of April 27-May 1; abstracts are due March 4, 2015. ORSP will begin processing CERCA applications starting January 2015.

We would like to invite everyone to attend our third annual Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity (CERCA) the week of April 27-May 1, 2015. Highlighted events include:


22nd Annual Student Research Days

Posters, presentations, displays, and performance of student scholarly work, Davies Center.
To present, submit an abstract online by March 4th.


Provost’s Honors Symposium

Oral presentations. Davies Center.
Presenters are nominated.
Click for more details.


Several other events also highlight student scholarly work, such as the Math Retreat, Distinguished Master’s Thesis Presentation, Bachelor of Fine Arts Senior Show, and more. See the 2015 Calendar of Events (coming soon) for more information. Everyone is invited to attend these events! Students present amazing projects in all disciplines - there is something for everyone!

A. Background

UW-Eau Claire's Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity (CERCA) is designed to give UW-Eau Claire students the opportunity to present the results of their research and scholarly creative activity. The event highlights student research accomplishments and contributions to the academic community. CERCA encourages the dissemination of research results from all disciplines represented at UW-Eau Claire.

The first UW-Eau Claire student research event, known as Student Research Day was in 1992 with 60 posters presented. Since 1992, the event has expanded and evolved. In 2013, CERCA highlighted 393 projects by 678 students and continues to grow every year.

B. Eligibility:

Any UW-Eau Claire student engaged in collaborative or independent research or scholarly creative work is eligible to apply. Participants in all discipline are encouraged to apply.

All projects must make new knowledge by building from previous knowledge or creating new perspectives.

Your presentation should explain how your project meets this definition. This definition is intentionally broad in order to encompass all the scholarship that takes place on campus. For example:

  • A kinesiology project examining the effects that a short term dynamic core exercise program may have on agility.
  • A research project that critically examines how scholars perceive the role of Virgil through a survey of scholarship on The Divine Comedy in English.
  • An art project inspired by relational art, a currently developing field within contemporary art.
  • A geography project analyzing the land use/land cover changes in the lower Chippewa River watershed.
  • A critical performance of G.B.Viotti transcribed for two bassoons in order to examine how aspects of Classical musical style translate across instrumental genres.
  • A research project studying the effect of cyber bullying on school climate.

C. Application Process

The application process can be broken down into 3 key parts:

  1. Write your abstract
  2. Decide on a presentation format
  3. Submit your application

1. Write your abstract

A key component to your CERCA application is your abstract (200 words maximum). This abstract will be included in the Proceedings Volume published online and in print.

An abstract summarizes the important qualities of your project, and typically includes:

  • The specific problem or question you tackled, or the purpose or hypothesis of the project (~1 sentence)
  • Background and significance of the research project to your discipline or field of study (~1 sentence)
  • A description of the methods or approach you used (~2 sentences)
  • Main conclusions, outcomes, or recommendations, or, if the project is still in process, the kinds of results you expect to be able to report (~2 sentences)

This abstract will be included in the proceedings volume, which is published in hard copy and posted online. Therefore, it is important to:

  • Use terminology that will be clear to a general, non-expert audience.
  • Define abbreviations not universally understood upon first use (include abbreviation in parentheses immediately after you first use the term; thereafter you can use the abbreviation).
  • Be concise and strive for clarity.
  • Carefully proofread your work.

You abstract should be attached to your application as a Word document. Include your project title, faculty mentor(s), and any collaborators at the top of the document. Abstracts not adhering to these guidelines will be returned for revision prior to acceptance. Experienced writing tutors in the Center for Writing Excellence can assist you with any stage of abstract-writing. Visit to view locations, hours, and to make an appointment.

2. Decide on a presentation format

In addition to attaching your abstract, you will need to decide which presentation format will best suit your research. This year, CERCA has 3 presentation formats:

  1. Oral Presentation: Oral presentations are 12 minutes plus 3 minutes for discussion. Your oral session will be scheduled on April 29 or April 30 and will be grouped with other oral presentations by topic. The presentation rooms are equipped with computers and projectors.
  2. Poster Presentation: A 42"x46" poster displayed for 2 days with a 2 hour presentation time each day. At least one presenter should be present at each presentation time. 2014 presentation times will be April 29, 4-6pm and April 30, 2-4pm. Poster design workshops will be available in April. Space for poster presentations or art displays is limited, and therefore, first-come, first-served.
  3. Display with Explanation: For presenting art, hands-on demonstrations, or anything else not conducive to a 'poster only' format. Materials should be on displayed for 2 days with a 2 hour presentation time each day. At least one presenter should be present at each presentation time. 2014 presentation times will be April 29, 4-6pm and April 30, 2-4pm. You will still be required to include text contextualizing and explaining your project. Most displays create a poster explaining what is on display. We will do our best to accommodate any needs your specific display may require.
  4. Performance or Film with Lecture: Usually up to 25 minutes time for a performance or film presentation including a contextualizing lecture. We will do our best to accommodate performances and films including using the theater, making arrangements for instruments, and setting up sound equipment.

3. Submit your application

The Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity application is processed in BP Logix and must be initiated by a student. To start an application, the lead student will need to log into BP Logix, select Start New form and choose ORSP as the department. From there, select "Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity". A new form should open. Please visit the Using eForms and BP Logix page for a detailed explanation of the eForm system.

Your application will also require a faculty mentor to sign off on your application. For independent research (research that wasn't performed with a faculty mentor), the applicant must find a faculty mentor to sign off on their project.

Projects with multiple co-authors

The CERCA form is set up so that the lead student author submits the abstract; student co-authors should not submit the abstract and do not need to formally approve the form. Once the lead student author submits the form, it will be sent to the faculty mentor for approval or revision before being sent to ORSP. Due to technical limitations, co-authors will not receive notification of approval and cannot edit the form themselves. The lead student is responsible for communicating with co-authors.


If you are presenting a poster, this application form will request your permission to include your poster in the online poster collection at MINDS@UW.

Still need help?

Please visit the Using eForms and BP Logix. If you have questions or need further assistance, please contact ORSP at 715-836-3405 or

D. Deadline for Application:

Applications must be submitted online by March 4, 2015.

E. Creating a Poster

cerca poster examplesIf you choose to do a poster presentation, you will need to design and print a large format poster. Poster printing is free for CERCA presentations. Note that, due to the high cost of plotter supplies and the time required to fulfill poster requests, we cannot re-print final posters due to author mistakes, except in exceptional cases. Poster design, preparation, and printing assistance is available. Sign up for a Poster Design Workshop, view a video tutorial, or contact

All posters should include the official UW-Eau Claire seal and wordmark in agreement with the University Communications Graphic Standards Guide. Each poster should list the title of the project, the student(s)' names, the faculty mentor name(s), and the department name(s). The poster dimensions should not exceed 46x46 inches to fit the poster board. Note that posters printed on campus are limited to 42x46 inches. The acknowledgements section should mention the source of your research funding, if applicable.

Please visit the LTS Research Poster Printing Service site for more information about printing and designing your poster. Also, you may visit MINDS@UW to view previously published posters that you may use as examples to design your own, or visit the CERCA Photo Gallery to get a feel for what the event looks like.

F. Information for Visitors

We encourage students, staff, parents, and the general public to attend any and all CERCA events – the 22nd Annual Student Research Days in particular. On that day, we expect 350 posters, presentations, displays, and performances from students in every discipline.

Oral Presentations and Performances will take place throughout the day April 29th and 30th.

Posters will be on display all day, both days.

A detailed schedule of oral presentations and performances will be posted here, along with the abstracts for all presentations, in mid-April.

Free parking permits are available April 29th 30th. Contact or 715-836-3405 for information on how to obtain a free permit.