ACUR CONFERENCE GUIDELINES

ABOUT ACUR

The Australasian Council for Undergraduate Research (ACUR) exists to ensure that a high quality international conference of undergraduate research is held in Australasia annually. It aims to support different institutions in hosting the conference and to gain support for the conference in the wider higher and tertiary education community. ACUR consists of a Chair and an International Steering Group with responsibility to ensure consistency of quality of future conferences.

Definition of an undergraduate research conference

An undergraduate research conference is just like any other academic conference but each presentation is delivered by undergraduate students including Honours students presenting work they have done either as part of their course or as part of an internship. As a multi-disciplinary conference, undergraduates have the opportunity to network with other undergraduate researchers from their own disciplines, and also to learn about how other disciplines approach research problems. An undergraduate research conference provides a great opportunity to meet students from other universities and share their research.

Why undergraduate research?

Growing interest and practice internationally in engaging undergraduates in research has led to demand from students and academics to provide similar opportunities here in Australia. There is evidence that practice is growing rapidly. Undergraduate research addresses the need to prepare students for professional life when knowledge is uncertain and the future is unclear. It is known to have high impact in engaging students. The benefits to students are now well known and include: personal and professional gains such as increased confidence; and intellectual development including critical thinking and problem solving skills and a more advanced understanding of how scientific knowledge is built. These skills are as important in business and industry as they are to universities.

ACUR STEERING GROUP

The Steering Group consists of individuals who have influence in their institutions in terms of gaining support and funding for undergraduates to attend and present at ACUR conferences, as well as individuals who are researching, implementing or leading projects to engage undergraduates in research and inquiry. The Steering Group includes representatives from 30 Australian universities, 4 New Zealand universities and 14 other organisations worldwide. A large, inclusive, Steering Group ensures information is spread widely across institutions and ensures no particular individual is burdened with work.

The steering group will:

  1. make major decisions regarding the ongoing reputation and progress of ACUR;
  2. establish, maintain and publicise criteria and guidelines for institutions wishing to host an undergraduate research conference;
  3. call for expressions of interest from institutions to host future conferences and make decisions in the light of the criteria for hosting;
  4. provide guidance to the chosen conference organising institutions and revise documentation in the light of their experiences;
  5. provide practical help to conference organisers as requested such as documentation, spreadsheets, pro-formas, publicity etc.;
  6. monitor conference organisation by representation on conference organising committees;
  7. maintain a conference website to include a submission system and database and to house the proceedings of all of the conferences;
  8. maintain and update mailing lists;
  9. assist institutions in gaining sponsorship for future conferences;
  10. design and implement a dissemination strategy including preparing a publicity booklet;
  11. evaluate its own activities;
  12. assist in choosing best posters for Posters in Parliament when appropriate.

The ACUR steering group will communicate through electronic means but may meet at conferences. Small task groups may be established from time to time to work on specific issues.

 

CRITERIA FOR AN AUSTRALASIAN CONFERENCE OF UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH

An ACUR conference is a conference which meets the following criteria:

  1. is open to all undergraduate and Honours students and recent graduates including Honours students (within 12 months of graduation) to present research conducted during or before undergraduate studies including extra-curricular research;
  2. adopts an inclusive approach to undergraduate research which encourages participation from all disciplines, all levels of study and all types of higher and tertiary education institutions;
  3. involves an academic peer review process for abstracts which allows students to resubmit where appropriate;
  4. is primarily a face to face conference, but may include virtual conference elements (e.g. electronic networking, webinars, Skype discussions);
  5. offers a range of conventional and unconventional opportunities for students to disseminate research (for example, through posters, oral presentations, workshops, performances etc.);
  6. is cost-effective to ensure that the conference fee for student delegates is affordable;
  7. has a social program to give students the opportunity to mix and debate outside of the formal presentations;
  8. involves undergraduate students in the running of the conference;
  9. includes a session or sessions for attending staff members including the ACUR Steering Group to discuss the implementation and management of undergraduate research.

The ACUR organisation through its Steering Group will:

  1. decide on the hosts and venue for the annual conference;
  2. permit the conference to be branded as the official Australasian Conference of Undergraduate Research and use its logos and website;
  3. make no claim on any profits arising from the conference itself;
  4. undertake to lobby for funding for student delegates;
  5. undertake to ensure a breadth of representation across the higher and tertiary education sector on the steering group;
  6. advertise the conference through the acur.org.au website and through social media;
  7. advise and help the host institution team as appropriate;

Note: An Australasian Conference of Undergraduate Research (ACUR) is designed to complement and not compete with undergraduate research provision at institutional and state-wide levels.

THE HOST INSTITUTION

The host institution will be a university or other higher or tertiary education institute in Australia, New Zealand or nearby territories.

Applying to host the conference

In the first instance, potential hosts are advised to submit to the ACUR Chair an Expression of Interest. A signed proposal will then be required.

The host institution will detail how their institution will meet the ACUR criteria. This will include details of administrative support and the facilities available for the conference, and an indicative budget, together with a signed letter from a senior officer, i.e. VC or DVC, indicating their agreement to host the conference and including a statement that the institution will carry any risks associated with hosting it.

Responsibilities of the host institution

The host institution will:

  1. create an internal conference organising committee and take responsibility for the front-line management of the conference;
  2. fully underwrite the conference and take full responsibility for the administration and financial management of the conference; administration and use of fees;
  3. retain any profit arising from the conference with the expectation that this will be used to further undergraduate research;
  4. meet any losses incurred;
  5. take legal responsibility for all risk management issues associated with the conference, including insurance and security, IP issues/ creative commons etc.;
  6. set the fees to be charged to delegates in collaboration with the ACUR Steering Group;
  7. maintain the focus on students, based on ACUR guidelines;
  8. use the ACUR logo and advertise the ACUR website in all publicity relating to the event;
  9. keep the ACUR steering group updated about the progress of conference organisation;
  10. include one external member of the ACUR steering group on the organising committee in order to maintain contact;
  11. encourage academics to send students to present and participate;
  12. identify and advertise low cost accommodation options including staying with local students including graduate students, and/or local colleges of residence, hotels etc.;
  13. evaluate the conference and report to the ACUR Steering Group;
  14. Adhere to ACUR conference criteria;
  15. Invite hosts of the following year’s conference to have a dialogue and a discussion, and give a brief invitation to delegates at the final conference session in order to stimulate excitement and ensure a sense of continuation.

The conference program

The host institution will take responsibility for managing the quality of the academic and social program and work presented at the conference. This will include:

  1. conducting a submissions review process, [recommendation for host to have a review/programming committee and organizing committee];
  2. providing an opportunity for students to re-submit where appropriate;
  3. including workshops, meetings or pre-conference sessions on undergraduate research by and for academic staff;
  4. social activities such as: break out groups, speed networking, BBQs, dinners;
  5. designating nominations for prizes and managing the prizes process;
  6. disseminating the program and a record of the event on the ACUR website (www.acur.org.au);
  7. giving consideration to publication of the best papers in a local or other undergraduate research journal.

 

AUSTRALASIAN COUNCIL FOR UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH

Proposal to host an

Australasian Conference of Undergraduate Research

Institution
Proposer’s name
Contact details
Proposed conference dates
Anticipated delegate fee
Proposal
In 500 -1000 words please detail how your institution will meet the ACUR hosting criteria. Please include details of your administrative support and the facilities available for the conference, and an indicative budget, together with a signed letter from a senior officer, i.e. VC or DVC, indicating their agreement to host the conference and including a statement that the institution will carry any risks associated with hosting it.

Criteria

The host institution which will be a university or other higher or tertiary education institute will offer a conference which:

  1. is open to all undergraduate and Honours students and recent graduates including Honours students (within 12 months of graduation) to present research conducted during or before undergraduate studies including extra-curricular research;
  2. adopts an inclusive approach to undergraduate research which encourages participation from all disciplines, all levels of study and all types of higher and tertiary education institutions;
  3. involves an academic peer review process for abstracts which allows students to resubmit where appropriate;
  4. is primarily a face to face conference, but may include virtual conference elements (e.g. electronic networking, webinars, Skype discussions);
  5. offers a range of conventional and unconventional opportunities for students to disseminate research (for example, through posters, oral presentations, workshops, performances etc.);
  6. is cost-effective to ensure that the conference fee for student delegates is affordable;
  7. has a social program to give students the opportunity to mix and debate outside of the formal presentations;
  8. involves undergraduate students in the running of the conference;
  9. includes a session or sessions for attending staff members including the ACUR Steering Group to discuss the implementation and management of undergraduate research.

The host institution will:

  1. create an internal conference organising committee and take responsibility for the front-line management of the conference;
  2. fully underwrite the conference and take full responsibility for the administration and financial management of the conference; administration and use of fees;
  3. retain any profit arising from the conference with the expectation that this will be used to further undergraduate research;
  4. meet any losses incurred;
  5. take legal responsibility for all risk management issues associated with the conference, including insurance and security, IP issues/ creative commons etc.;
  6. set the fees to be charged to delegates in collaboration with the ACUR Steering Group;
  7. maintain the focus on students, based on ACUR guidelines;
  8. use the ACUR logo and advertise the ACUR website in all publicity relating to the event;
  9. keep the ACUR steering group updated about the progress of conference organisation;
  10. include one external member of the ACUR steering group on the organising committee in order to maintain contact;
  11. encourage academics to send students to present and participate;
  12. identify and advertise low cost accommodation options including staying with local students including graduate students, and/or local colleges of residence, hotels etc.;
  13. evaluate the conference and report to the ACUR Steering Group;
  14. Adhere to ACUR conference criteria;
  15. Invite hosts of the following year’s conference to have a dialogue and a discussion, and give a brief invitation to delegates at the final conference session in order to stimulate excitement and ensure a sense of continuation.

ACUR will:

  1. decide on the hosts and venue for the annual conference;
  2. permit the conference to be branded as the official Australasian Conference of Undergraduate Research and use its logos and website;
  3. make no claim on any profits arising from the conference itself;
  4. undertake to lobby for funding for student delegates;
  5. undertake to ensure a breadth of representation across the higher and tertiary education sector on the steering group;
  6. advertise the conference through the acur.org.au website and through social media;
  7. provide practical help to conference organisers as requested such as documentation, spreadsheets, pro-formas,  publicity etc.

 

Benefits of Hosting an ACUR conference

 

Benefits for the institution

  • Raises the national and international profile of your institution’s undergraduate research provision and achievements
  • Extends or develops undergraduate research provision in the institution
  • Provides opportunities to for undergraduate students to participate in presenting their research work at an international conference without leaving the campus
  • Provides an opportunity for undergraduates at the institution to participate in conference organisation
  • Extends knowledge of your university’s undergraduate research effort amongst the staff of the institution
  • it is a prestigious conference with an international profile
  • it will encourage your own students to think about postgraduate study
  • it might also encourage students visiting from other universities to come to your university to do postgraduate study

Benefits for staff

  • Provides an opportunity for teaching staff to introduce or extend student learning and assessment through research-based learning;
  • Provides an opportunity for staff to view and discuss the work of students from other institutions and countries

Benefits for students

  • Contributes to preparing students for professional life when knowledge is uncertain and the future is unclear.
  • Engages students in research-based learning;
  • Develops work-ready skills including personal and professional skills such as increased confidence; and intellectual development including critical thinking and problem solving skills and a more advanced understanding of how scientific knowledge is built
  • Motivates students to consider further study
  • Opportunity to engage with other undergraduate research scholars and build peer networks
  • Opportunity to learn more about research in their chosen discipline areas as well as explore interdisciplinary approaches to research challenges