Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities

  • #1 Problem Area: Project Description

    • Too little detail (much fewer words than the maximum allowed).
    • Identical submissions from students working on the same project (note that faculty are permitted to submit the same wording in their sections when serving as the faculty mentor for multiple URCAs).
    • The description isn’t scholarly (e.g., no references are included).
    • No (or vague) description of the methodology of the research.
    • There aren’t results or hypothesized results (if you don’t have results yet for a Travel URCA, explain your timetable for having results before the conference).
    • It is not clear if the project makes a unique contribution to the field.
    • The writing is too technical; it is not comprehensible to a general audience.

    #2 Problem Area: Budget

    • Not itemized as specifically as reviewers like
    • Not added up
    • Obvious errors (e.g., “gas” instead of mileage; incorrect per diem amounts)
    • No effort to reduce costs (e.g., everyone from the same team is driving separately to a conference several hours away)

    #3 Problem Area: Writing errors (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.). Consider the Writing Center.

    #4 Problem Area(s): The Faculty Sections

    • Written by the student, not the faculty mentor
    • Very short or vague
  • URCAs have become increasingly competitive. In 2014-2015, 83% (29 of 35) were accepted. In 2016-2017, 42% (24 of 57) were accepted.

    The good news is that there is more funding for undergraduate research now, and we anticipate the acceptance rate increasing.

  • Typically, funding URCAs have the following characteristics: 

    • Clear, engaging, scholarly, well written description of the proposed research project, including how this research will make a unique contribution to the literature in this area.
    • The results of the study are described in the project description, including implications or applications (in other words, why this research is important).
    • Budget is itemized, totaled, and correct.
    • The faculty mentor has indicated his/her interest and enthusiasm for mentoring students in general.
    • The faculty mentor has indicated that students will learn a great deal from this project (e.g., making academic posters, networking, analyzing data, writing, public speaking, etc.).
  • URCA applications are reviewed by a panel review group. Each member individually evaluates each application according to the rubric. The scores for each application are averaged across each reviewer, providing a starting place for an in-person meeting. The committee meets, discusses the applications, and makes decisions.
  • Unfortunately, we do not have enough funds to support students who are not actually presenting at the conference. 
  • Because the funding comes from the Office of Undergraduate Research, the funding can only cover undergraduate students. Contact the Graduate College or the Graduate Student Association for information on graduate student research funding. 
  • Sometimes departments and colleges can help support student research; ask your faculty mentor, department chair, and/or dean for more details. In addition, several divisions in the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) offer student travel awards - check here for more information. Finally, there are discipline-specific organizations that sometimes offer student funding; check with your faculty advisor for more information. 
  • The application should be submitted from one person, either the student or the faculty mentor. Whoever submits the application should gather the information from the other person before submitting. We recommend putting all of the answers in a Word document before submitting.
  • No. In order to be fair to all other applicants, we need to adhere strictly to deadlines, as all grants do.
  • Yes - students are eligible for the funding up to one semester after graduating from KSU.
  • No; each student is eligible for one URCA per academic year regardless of award amount.
  • No; please select one student from a group project to represent the team at the conference.


URCA Application Form