When abstracts are submitted, they are evaluated by abstract review committees. These committees look for four key components: Appeal, Originality, Methodology/Technique/Approach, and Clarity.
Appeal and Originality: The first category in the rubric for abstract review looks at the Appeal (Is the submission compelling and relevant to the field?) and Originality (Is this work contributing something new to the field?). Whether the work is considered ‘research’ or some other kind of creative product, it must be different than a school class project that does nothing more than summarize the original work of others. Submissions lacking originality are unacceptable.
Therefore, in order to fulfill the criterion of Originality, proposals should clearly state the novel contribution to the field. When new data have been collected, this is unambiguously original. However, different or improved methods, even when addressing previously existing questions and data, also represent original work. Finally, a literature review or performance of an existing composition can also be considered original if the author/performer brings new perspectives to the material considered and explicitly identifies the new contributions made by the current study (such proposals must clearly state which findings or perspectives are new discoveries enabled by the process).
Methodology/Technique/Approach: In the second category, the reviewers look for the research methods or creative approaches employed by the undergraduate scholars and that the students actively participated in the research or project. It should be clear that the students were not just watching a professor or playing a minor ‘gofer’ role. Methods deemed inappropriate to the field/discipline and projects lacking undergraduate contributions are unacceptable.
Clarity: The abstract should be well written and easy to read. A poorly written abstract can hide excellent research. It is best practice to have someone else proofread your abstract for you. It is difficult to catch your own writing mistakes. Students submitting abstracts to the Research Festival should have their advisors check their abstracts before they are submitted. Proposals lacking adequate clarity to be understood by reviewers are unacceptable.