Interested in finding out more about the SIGDOC Student Research Competition? We’ve put together this FAQ that might answer your questions!

  • What are the benefits of entering the SRC?
    • If you’re selected for the SRC, you’ll be reimbursed up to $500 for conference registration and travel expenses to attend the conference. Beyond that, the SRC is a great opportunity to share your work with other students, researchers, and professional communicators. You’ll also get feedback on your project from the SRC judges. Finally, if you place first, second, or third in the competition, you’ll receive additional money. For the winners, you’ll also have the opportunity to participate in the national ACM research awards.
  • What is the process for entering the SRC, and how is it different from submitting a “regular” conference abstract?
    • You enter the SRC by submitting an abstract of up to 800 words to the conference website. Your abstract is evaluated by the reviewers, then if it is accepted, you will write a 2-page extended abstract about your research project. You will then receive feedback on your extended abstract, and have the opportunity to revise it for potential publication in the conference proceedings. Once at the conference, the SRC involves is a two-round process: first presenting your research at a poster session, and then a second oral presentation session for those who are selected to go on to the next round.
    • The process is a little different when you submit an abstract for a regular session, through all of the dates are the same. You begin by submitting a research abstract of up to 500 words. If accepted, you have the option of writing either a 2-page extended abstract or a full-length paper about your research. You’ll get feedback on your extended abstract/paper and the opportunity to revise it for the conference proceedings. Once at the conference, you will present your work in either an oral or poster presentation (depending on the kind of session you choose to do).
  • I’m working on a project with a fellow student. Can we enter the SRC together?
    • That depends! If you’re undergraduate students, then yes, you can present together. When you submit your abstract, one of you will have to designate yourself as the presenter if you get to the second round. If you’re a graduate student, then no. Graduate students must enter the SRC individually. If you want to present with a fellow student, you can submit a regular abstract instead.
  • Am I eligible to enter to the SRC?
    • If you’re a current student and expect to continue to be enrolled  in your current program at the time of the SIGDOC conference (October 2018) then yes! Otherwise, no. Unfortunately, the SRC is only open to students who will be enrolled as students at the time the conference is underway.
  • What “counts” as a research project?
    • Research projects are “the result of a systematic investigation into some type of phenomenon”. In order to be accepted to the SIGDOC conference, your research topic should fit into the general areas of communication design, professional and technical communication, and user experience design. Projects could be either practical/empirical or theoretical. There are many possibilities! The call for proposals for this year’s SIGDOC conference will have other specific examples.
    • Many students present on a project they have been working for a design course or an independent study project. Some specific examples include 1) studying the social implications of communication design (e.g., how people react to a communication tool, or how a product affects a particular group of users), 2) analyzing specific examples of communication (e.g., an app, website, or outreach campaign), or 3) user-centered project development (e.g., involving users in usability testing or user-centered design when building a tool).
  • How do I design and print a poster?
    • Think of your poster as a graphical representation of your research project. The poster should convey what you did, why you did it, and what you discovered. However, it should also be easily readable and not too cluttered or text-heavy. Think of the poster as a visual prop that you will use to help you verbally explain your project to the audience. This resource on designing posters might also be helpful: https://xrds.acm.org/resources/how-to-write-research-poster.cfm.
    • The SRC organizers will send you information on poster size and format. You can design a poster using either graphic layout software (e.g., Illustrator, InDesign, Publisher) or even slideshare software (e.g., PowerPoint). You can have posters printed at a commercial printer, or your university may have reduced-price printing services for students. If you use an online printing service, check how long it will take to deliver your poster to you.
  • How can I increase my chances of doing well? / What are the judges looking for?
    • In general, judges want to see that you can clearly explain what you did and why, and that you can connect your project to the “bigger picture” of your field. You should be prepared to answer questions about the methods and theories that you used, what your project did that was unique and/or valuable, and what the next steps with your research might be.
    • Your visuals should be clear, helpful, and attractive (SIGDOC is a design conference, of course!), but it’s also important to sound confident when presenting your work. It’s normal to be a bit nervous, but practicing can help you prepare you for the presentation and questions. Practicing in front of other people can be very helpful, especially if they know enough about your field to ask you questions so you can practice answering those as well.
    • Another suggestion for preparation is to have both your poster and talk done before you travel to the conference. You should try not to have to do major edits to the talk while you’re there. This can be stressful!
  • What should I expect from the first round/poster session?
    • The SRC presenters will all present their work in the same poster session. You should have a brief 1 minute or so “elevator pitch” prepared about your project (what you did, why, and what you found) that you can present to the audience. Then, if the person/people you’re talking to are interested, you can go into detail about specific aspects of your project. Judges will ask you specific questions, so you should be prepared to discuss the details of your project. Throughout your presentation, you should use the poster as a prop: point to specific details or figures that help you make your points. But keep in mind that if you’re talking, people will be paying attention to you and not necessarily reading the poster thoroughly. So you should work with the poster to tell the story of your research.
  • What should I expect from the second round/oral presentation?
    • The day after the poster session, the students who are selected to move to the second round will give an oral presentation of their work. You will have 20 minutes for your presentation, and then there will be a 5 minutes for questions from the audience (including the judges). Similarly to the poster session, you should expect the questions to be about the details of your work.
  • How should I dress?
    • There is no specific dress code, but generally students dress in business or business casual attire. What does this mean? Here’s an article with some examples: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/business-casual-attire-2061335. You should also try to wear something comfortable, that you can stand and walk around in for a long time, probably in a setting that is overly- or under- air-conditioned.
    • We want to acknowledge that conference attire is a complex topic, as professional clothing has classist, heteronormative, sexist, and racist implications. SIGDOC strives to create a welcoming environment for all, and so it’s extremely unlikely that you will be judged on the price tag of your outfit or whether your presentation conforms to “traditional” gender-normative standards. If you would like advice on gender-neutral clothing, this article might help: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/gender-neutral-interview-and-business-clothing-2061166
  • What sort of feedback should I expect from the judges?
    • The judges will give you written feedback on your research, visuals, and the actual presentation of your work. Usually this will include evaluation of your presentation, as well as suggestions for how to improve your presentation skills and where you might go next with your research.