2020 SRS2020-04-08T13:25:33+00:00

2020 Student Research Symposium

This year’s Student Research Symposium will be held April 8-9, but instead of being held face-to-face in the Merrill-Cazier Library, the event will be hosted on LinkedIn. Despite the circumstances that have forced this change, we’re extremely excited about this new format.

You can visit the Utah State University Office of Research LinkedIn page now to follow #USU2020SRS and engage with more than 150 student research presentations during the symposium’s two days.

If you have immediate questions or concerns, please contact Amelia Ashby at amelia.ashby@usu.edu.  

What’s different about this year’s symposium?

Because this is now a virtual conference, some things are going to be different from an in-person event:
  1. Audience: Typically, the audience for SRS is just your fellow attendees and the faculty and student judges (along with some very supportive classmates, peers, and family members). We’re very excited about the opportunity that a virtual session provides for being able to share your research with a wider audience of your connections, your peers’ connections, and others in your field.
  2. Presentations: For those of you who are using SRS to prepare to present at a conference, are using a presentation from a previous conference, or are fulfilling a class requirement, you can still share your traditional poster and oral presentations online. But, if you’re starting your SRS presentation from scratch, we are giving you the opportunity to use different formats that work better for online sharing
  3. Q&A and feedback: In addition to our feedback forms, our judges will use public commenting and private direct messages to ask you about your research and give you immediate online feedback on your presentation.

Step 1: Setting up your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is a professional networking and job-hunting platform that allows individuals and organizations to share content, build their brand, post or apply for positions, and generally to maintain an online social media presence in the professional sphere. While there are options to pay for additional features on the platform, a basic account is free and quick to set up.

Go to www.linkedin.com and choose ‘Join Now’ to set up your free account. The set-up process will walk you through required and optional steps, and when you have added all the information you choose to, you’ll be ready to participate in the SRS.

We recommend that you take the time to complete your profile; by the end of SRS you’ll have made a number of connections and will be in a much better position to leverage those connections to help your research efforts if you maximize your profile.

Think of your LinkedIn profile as your digital resume or CV. It’s your opportunity to showcase yourself and give visitors a first impression of you, your strengths and your accomplishments. Make your profile more inviting by including a good photo of yourself; action shots, including images of your field work or public speaking are great, but make sure they’re high-quality and your face is visible.

A cover photo is not required, but it does show extra attention to detail. Try to find something that provides more context about you without being visually overwhelming. A high-quality image of your research or a landscape shot of Old Main would both be appropriate. Make sure the photo fits well in the space though — the generic LinkedIn cover image is much better than a poor quality picture!

Make sure you also add items to the “Featured” section of your profile, and include images as much as possible. A strong “Featured” section can add visual variety to your profile, gives visitors a good sense of what you’re most proud of professionally.

Finally, make sure your profile is public (check your settings and privacy under your account options in the drop-down menu). Though there are some exceptions, generally speaking your page shouldn’t include private information anyway, and maintaining a private profile eliminates many of the benefits of having a LinkedIn account.

The first text people will see on your profile is the headline, intro, and about sections.


The headline serves as an elevator pitch of yourself; it needs to be succinct while showing your expert status. This page has specific recommendations to help you develop that headline. The brief summary is that should include keywords related to your field, along with your “value proposition” — the thing that sets you apart and makes you an expert. While it might be hard as a student to think of yourself as an expert, consider the unique skills you would bring to a lab or program. That’s your headline!


The intro is an optional element you can add if you’re looking for a job with a specific title or in a particular location. It’s helpful for recruiters who will come across your page.


The about section can be managed in a couple of ways. One option is to show your personality. It allows you to freely choose the words to describe yourself and put your professional experiences, desires, and goals in context. This page has more details on how to write your own, as well as some examples.

The other option is to use it as a way to identify something you’re working toward. Be succinct and up-front about what you want (whether that’s a lab position, research funding, collaboration opportunities, or something else) and specific about your skills and experience. Remember, though, that specific is not the same as comprehensive. Pick a couple of skills and experiences you think are worthy of highlighting that reinforce your qualifications.

Skills and endorsements are a vital part of you Linkin profile. It will be helpful for your connections who want to endorse you if you take the time to set some of your skills as you’re setting up your profile. LinkedIn also gives you the choice to reorder your skills and prioritize your top skills. This will communicate to your profile visitors what you view as your best assets and make it easier for your connections to endorse you.

Step 2: Preparing your presentation

Video presentations will make up the sessions for all presentation types and disciplines now that we are in a digital format. All videos will be available to the full public (as opposed to the USU public), so it’s important that you talk with your research mentor and/or team to ensure that your video includes information that you have permission to share. They may have advice for you as you create your presentation, and they may want to see the finished results—this is a new way of running the symposium and most USU faculty and students have never presented like this!

Option 1- Voice-Over Poster

The first option is similar to a poster presentation. Using this method you will create a poster using PowerPoint. You’ll then record your voice while you discuss key areas of your research. The result is a video that shows your poster while you talk about it.

Option 2- Voice-Over Slide Deck

The second option is similar to an oral presentation. First, you will create your slides in PowerPoint. You’ll then record a voice over while you discuss your research and move through your slides. The result will be a video that goes through your slides as your discuss the key points of your research.

Option 3- Other Video Options

Option 3 is for those of you who would like to make use of the online platform to try sharing your research in a different way. This option is more flexible, so if you like rigid guidelines, you may want to stick to option 1 or 2. For option 3 you will record a video or create a multimedia presentation that discusses your research. This can be a recording of you as you talk to the camera, a combination of other mediums including video or images, or otherwise display information for your audience in a video format. Your video should still address the components of the SRS rubric in order to be assessed by our judges. This method may be a good option for you if you cannot publicly share research findings, but would still like to discuss how research has influenced you or what inspired your project. It may also be a good option for any performances or art-based presentations.

As you prepare to record your presentation, remember that your video length should be less than eight minutes (the same as a typical oral presentation), and you can check that your video will be compatible with LinkedIn’s file types here.

For all three options, you’ll have the opportunity to submit materials in advance of your presentation that can be shared with your audience alongside your video. You can include your abstract, the poster or slides that you created for your video, a research article or paper that you wrote about your project, your creative portfolio or other files that will help your audience appreciate your presentation. We have different options for you to protect sensitive materials for USU audiences only, or permanent publication options for open-access materials for everyone to see.

We recommend using PowerPoint to create your poster or slides and voice-over, because it’s available to all USU students with an active aggiemail address and has simple tools to help you design, complete and then record the presentation within the same program. If you would prefer to use other software or tools to create your presentation, feel free to do so as long as it still accomplishes the goal of communicating your research in a professional format.

Remember, your video should be no more than eight minutes long.

For  step-by-step instructions watch the video tutorial above, or for a written guide, start here, then learn about exporting your finished presentation as a video here. You can also record your screen on a Mac or on a PC. And there are plenty of options for free video editing software that you can use if you want to combine your screen recording with video of you discussing your research.

As you’re preparing your video, remember to check that your video will be compatible with LinkedIn’s file types. If it’s not, you’ll need to use an editing software to convert it.

If you’re struggling to record your video, feel free to reach out to the undergraduate research team at ur@usu.edu. We’re happy to help!

  • While designing your poster or slides be sure to include plenty of white space, use font styles and sizes that can be read easily, and don’t overwhelm your viewer with too much text.
  • Make sure to practice what you want to say before you start your recording, then practice with the recording. It’s important to speak clearly, loud enough, and not too quickly, and recordings can require you to enunciate or slow down even further. You want to keep your audience engaged with the research you are discussing. Try writing down a few key words to make sure you talk about them, and then practice explaining your research to a roommate or family member.
  • When you make your recording, try to do it in a quiet room with few distractions.
  • Most of us don’t have access to high tech equipment or training to create high-production-value video content. We understand that this is a new experience for you, and we won’t rate you on the quality of your video feed, sound, or other equipment and technical factors. Focus on doing your best to communicate how awesome your research is!

Step 3: Presenting your Work


  1. Give yourself enough time! Video files can take a while to upload. Take your internet speed into account and start early enough that your post will be up in time for your session. If your internet is especially slow, you might want to consider uploading your video to your LinkedIn profile the night before your session.
  2. Sign on to LinkedIn. It should automatically direct you to your Home page, or you can click on the home icon at the top of the page.
  3. Start a post. In the mobile app, click ‘write a post.’ On the web version, click ‘share your thoughts.’
  4. Click the video icon in the pop-up box to upload your video presentation. LinkedIn accepts multiple video types, but we suggest saving all video files as an MP4.
  5. At this stage, you can edit the video length, or add a thumbnail, but none of that is necessary. Click Next. The video attachment should show at the bottom of the pop-up box.
  6. Make sure to add the hashtag “#USU2020SRS” in your caption, as well as a hashtag for your session in the format “#SRSSessionX”. You can verify your session time slot on the SRS homepage. You can also include any other hashtags you would like, but additional hashtags are not required.
  7. In addition to the hashtag, please add all information that you would like the research community to know. You can tag other members of your research group, title your presentation, add links to your materials, or share additional information about yourself, your research, or your experience doing this project.
  8. Remain live and active on LinkedIn for your full session. You are expected to respond to questions and comments, and should take the opportunity to view other presentations.We also recommend after you have uploaded your presentation you revisit your profile page (by clicking your profile image at the top of the page) and add your presentation to your ‘Featured’ section. This will make your presentation the first thing that visitors to your profile will see, and will make navigation easier for the judges. To do this, click on the ‘Add Featured’ button, select the ‘Posts’ option, and choose your presentation post to feature.

You can also adjust your notification settings to see when people are interacting with your presentation. Think about downloading the mobile app, allowing email or push notifications, or simply stay on your LinkedIn page throughout your session to make sure you are interacting with those engaging with your presentation. The more active you are in engaging with others during your session, the more you will gain from your presentation experience.

In your presentation caption, you should have included the hashtag #USU2020SRS. If you click on that tag, it will pull up all presentations with the same hashtag, giving you access to all other USU presentations. You can also search “#USU2020SRS”  in the search box at the top of the screen.

The same process will work with your session hashtag if you want to see others who are presenting at the same time as you.

Please interact with presentations that you find interesting! This is a great way to learn about what other research opportunities exist and learn more about research at USU. If you watch some or all of a video, leave a comment, ‘like’ the post, or even directly message the presenter to learn more.

Remember other people will be watching your presentation as well, so please check back often to see what comments or questions you have received.

Your judges may or may not be active during your session. In order to offer you feedback from as many judges as possible, we are providing them a larger window of time to view your presentation around their own courses and other time commitments.

We ask that you return to LinkedIn throughout the SRS event and especially before end-of-day Friday, April 10 to answer any new questions or comments from judges. Interacting with judges will help them understand your research and can improve your scores!

They may ask questions about your work, your content or your research experiences. Please answer questions professionally and concisely. Keep in mind that any comments that are posted can be seen by the public, so represent yourself and your research well, as you would in a face-to-face presentation Q&A.

Judges may also choose to direct message you with any questions, so please check your messages box frequently as well. This box can be found at the bottom of your window.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why LinkedIn?2020-03-24T21:23:48+00:00
LinkedIn, a social networking site that focuses on professional networking and career building, will be our platform for all presentations. We chose LinkedIn to host the symposium because: 
  • Many presenters already have an existing LinkedIn account.
  • Using LinkedIn will give you a chance to build your resume and showcase your experience to a larger audience than you otherwise could, which is an invaluable professional development opportunity.
  • LinkedIn gives you a platform to connect with other professionals in your field.
  • It has commenting and direct messaging capabilities, which allows judges to contact you directly and ask questions.
How do I set up a LinkedIn account?2020-03-24T21:24:16+00:00

If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account, please visit the LinkedIn site here. All you will need is your name, email, and a secure password. LinkedIn will guide you through the rest of the steps, which includes entering past job experiences and any possible networking connections you have. You can fill in as much or as little of this information as you like up front, and update it down the line.

What about privacy issues?2020-03-24T21:25:19+00:00

Some research at USU has strict restrictions on what information can be shared in a public setting, so please work closely with your mentor as you create these presentations. We have alternate methods available to allow you to present your work in compliance with publication limitations. You and your mentor will have the option to opt out of publishing sensitive data in Digital Commons. If you want your presentation to be password protected and available only for the period of SRS, this will also be an option. You should edit your abstract so that it can be published in Digital Commons without endangering sensitive data. Please indicate these restrictions when you pre-submit your materials. All submissions are copied to mentors for approval.

Why do I need to pre-submit my materials?2020-03-24T21:26:45+00:00
There are two reasons we require that you pre-submit your materials:
  • Your submission materials will be sent to a judge to review quality, design, and content. This is a requirement for all presenters. It is a normal part of SRS, even when it is held facetoface.
  • These materials will, in most cases, be published to the Student Research Symposium Digital Commons site. Publishing your materials and/or abstract to USU’s open repository of research, Digital Commons, allows you to share your research with a larger community. This is also a standard part of SRS.
What do online presentations look like?2020-03-25T18:30:01+00:00
You have two options regarding this presentation: 
  1. You can stick with your original poster or oral session format. 
    1. Poster presenters and art exhibitors: You will film a three-minute maximum “elevator talk” explaining the key finding (or question, for work in progress) of your research or creative work, why it matters, and how you got interested in doing this work. 
    2. Oral presenters: You will give your 7-8 minute talk with slides. (You can either voice over your PowerPoint, or edit your video to alternate between “talking head” and image sections.)
    3. Performers: You will make a 7-8 minute video of your performance and commentary.
2. You can use this virtual symposium as an opportunity to present your research in a way that is optimized for a virtual audience. To adapt your presentation for the online, digital video format, create a video segment no more than 8 minutes long that answers the following questions about your research or creative activity:
  • Who are you, as a researcher or creative artist?
  • What is the central question, problem, or challenge your research or creative work seeks to address? 
  • Why does this research or creative work matter? In other words, what contributions does it make to the discipline, to you, to the community, or to the world?
If you choose option 2, you will still need to submit something to Digital Commons — one option would be to submit your video itself. You might want to embed links in your video to supporting materials, for example a more extended paper you’ve written on the topic, a portfolio, or a data visualization. Feel free to incorporate multiple media elements, such as music, animations, or editing effects if you’re going this route. Both options are viable for individuals as well as groups. If you’re in a presentation group each participant should post the video on their personal LinkedIn account, but the primary author will be designated to receive questions from the judges.
How will I participate in the symposium?2020-03-25T18:32:10+00:00

All presenters previously registered for SRS have already received a session date and time for the face-to-face version of SRS that was planned before the COVID-19 situation emerged. Any presenters who have added on will soon be given a time and date when they will present.

All presenters will be expected to be active on LinkedIn during their session, so that they can respond to audience questions. This will make the experience similar to participating in a face-to-face conference, and help prepare you for the kinds of queries you might get there.

If I am presenting a poster, do I still need to record and upload a narration to along with it?2020-04-01T19:23:45+00:00

Yes. At a traditional poster session, you would be talking to interested attendees about your research. To mimic the conversational component of poster sessions, we are requiring that all presenters upload a video of them discussing their research.

You can go about this one of two ways. You could choose to create a voice-0ver of your presentation and then upload that to your LinkedIn page. You could also choose to record a video of yourself talking to the camera about your research, with your poster linked in your caption.

My presentation has more than one presenter. How can we do this using the online format?2020-04-01T19:28:40+00:00

Co-presenting in an online format is easier than it sounds! We encourage you and your co-presenters to coordinate and assign each presenter a specific section of your presentation to cover. There are a couple of options on how to make this work:

  • You can record each person going over their specific part of the presentation and then compile the videos into one video presentation.
  • You could start a zoom meeting and then record you all discussing each part of the presentation
  • You can share a set of slides and have different presenters do the voice-over on the slides within their assigned section
  • You could have your co-presenter register as an individual participant and they could upload the presentation to their profile. If you choose this, you need to acknowledge each other in your captions.
What should I do during my session?2020-04-01T19:40:08+00:00

We want you to get the most out of this online presentation experience as possible. In order to increase engagement, we ask that all presenters remain on LinkedIn during the entirety of their session. We encourage all presenters to go and interact with other students’ presentations by liking, commenting, and promoting their presentations.

Your judges may or may not be online during your session, but you will have to answer questions and comments on your video. We ask that you answer as many questions as you can during your session and then return to LinkedIn by 5 pm on April 9th to respond to the judge’s comments.

When will I get my judging feedback?2020-04-01T19:40:29+00:00

Because it is an online symposium, judges have been given extra time this year to review all presentations and submit their feedback. All judge feedback will be submitted to us by Friday, April 10 at 11:59 pm. We will then compile the feedback you have received and get it back to you early the next week.

This feedback is to help you grow as a presenter and as a student, so please take it seriously. We will also be using this data to recognize and award the top rated presenters in each field.

If you would like to see what rubric the judges are using, please click here.

Should I comment/ask questions on other presenters’ videos?2020-04-01T19:41:13+00:00

YES! We highly encourage you to go out and watch other students’ presentations. We truly believe that gaining feedback from your peers as well as from professionals is essential to growth. Interacting with others on this platform will also be a good way to make connections with others. If you and another presenter have a great conversation, feel free to add them to your LinkedIn network!

Can I post my presentation video on other social media platforms?2020-04-07T19:52:45+00:00

Absolutely! The judges will be using LinkedIn to view and comment on your presentation, but research is meant to be shared and you are welcome to share your video with your friends and family on other platforms.

I’m a co-presenter on a video. Do I need to post my group’s presentation on my LinkedIn account too?2020-04-07T19:52:59+00:00

The judges will be given the profile URL for the lead presenter of your group, and will be following that link to view the video and interact with the presenters. But you are more than welcome to also share the video on your profile, as well as on other social media platforms.