Media & Communication Research FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

For answers to common questions about the Media & Communication Research Initiative (MC-Cal Poly), please see below. If the answer to your question is not addressed here, feel free to email the program planners, Dr. Aubrie Adams & Dr. Hocheol Yang. 

For application information, visit the MC-Cal Poly page. 

How does the MC-Cal Poly program work? 

Accepted students become members of the MC-Cal Poly cohort for one year. During this year, they can receive funding and support for attending and presenting at academic conferences. Students may choose to participate for multiple years. However, they will need to apply to participate in the program once again. Student applications to join will be competitively reviewed for each academic year. 

What types of projects can be accepted?

MC-Cal Poly is designed to support projects related to media and communication studies. Projects that were developed in a research methods course that contain data are likely to be well suited for a conference presentation in this program. Completed projects are preferred, but we also accept works in progress. Students may also be interested in joining a research team to develop a new project. The following courses are most likely to produce papers suitable for a conference presentation in this program:

  • COMS 312: Research Methods
  • COMS 384: Media Effects
  • COMS 400: Special Projects for Advanced Undergrads
  • COMS 404: Video Games & Society
  • COMS 461: Senior Project
  • GRC 301: Digital Photography
  • GRC 433: User Experience Methods
  • GRC 462: Senior Project

What kinds of projects are preferred?

Because MC-Cal Poly is a competitive program with limited funding, only 10 projects can be accepted per year. As a result, the program planners may give preference to the following students and project types: 

  • Students whose professional & career goals are related to research.
  • Projects that align well with a specific conference. 
  • Projects that are complete or fairly well developed. 

Do students apply as individuals or as a group?

We realize that project authorship may be tricky at times because students often perform group work during class research projects. Therefore, students can apply to this program either as an individual or as a group.  It is up to you to decide whether you would like to apply simply as an individual or a group, but you will want to make sure to follow the guidelines below. 

  • Individual projects: If you are applying for this program on behalf of just yourself, full available funding will go towards you alone. Make sure you have permission from any previous group members if this project started out as group work originally.  Chances are your group members may be okay with you extending that previous work on your own for a conference presentation. 

  • Team projects: If you are applying for this program on behalf of a team, full available funding will be split amongst applicable group members for participation. Make sure you have chatted with your group members about their willingness to participate in this program. This is a good option for groups that work together well and that have multiple members interested in extending the previous work for a conference presentation. 

What timeline can students expect? 

Although there will be exceptions depending on what conferences students submit to, the following represents a general timeline for a year in the program. Please note that this schedule is for students who already have a paper that is complete and relatively ready to submit to a conference. 

  • September 30. Applications are due. 
  • October 10. Students are informed of program acceptance. Students submitting to ICA will need to work with faculty throughout the month to prepare their paper for conference submission. 
  • November 1. Students submit their papers to ICA by this day. 
  • January. Students submitting to ICA will hear back about their papers & register for the conference. 
  • Winter Quarter. Students will prepare conference presentations
  • Spring Quarter. Students will practice their presentations and travel to ICA. 

What is an academic conference?

Academic conferences are annual events in which students, scholars, and professors meet together (either online or in-person) to share their research findings and project ideas with one another. They are fantastic networking and professional development opportunities, especially for early-career scholars.  

What conferences are supported in this program?

MC-Cal Poly assists students in submitting and presenting their research at conferences in the Media and Communication Studies disciplines. Given the timing of the academic year, the MC-Cal Poly program is primarily designed to provide support for attending the following conference:

What other conferences are available? 

There is a range of other conference options available that students may want to submit to. Your faculty mentor can help you identify the conference that may be best for your work based on your project and personal research timeline at Cal Poly. Please note that the general rule is that students should only present a specific project at an academic conference once. The following conferences are other suitable options for academic presentations: 

What student conferences are available?

Besides professional research conferences, there are also student conferences that are open and available for undergraduates to submit their work to. The benefit of these conferences is that students can present a specific project at multiple student conferences. The following student conferences are suitable options:

How is funding allocated to students in this program?

Projects that are accepted in MC-Cal Poly can receive up to $1,000 in funding for destination conferences. Students will need to pay conference fees, travel, and airfare upfront on their own. However, they will be reimbursed after the conference (after completing the required paperwork). 

Are there other funding opportunities for students? 

All Cal Poly students (including those who are in MC-Cal Poly and those who are not) may apply for different pockets of funding. Usually, funding is available to students based on their major. 

  • Communication Studies Majors: The COMS department can provide up to $300 for some student projects (Contact Dr. Aubrie Adams).
  • Other Majors: Contact the Office of Undergraduate Research to inquire about available funding. 

What if my paper is not accepted at the conference?

After a project is accepted into the MC-Cal Poly program, the program advisors will work with students to help prepare and submit a paper that will hopefully be accepted at an academic conference. However, conference acceptance is not guaranteed and it can often be quite competitive. If a paper is not accepted, students have the following options: 

  • Option 1: Students may submit their paper to another available conference. This option is best for students who have more time left at Cal Poly and want to make sure they are using their funding to go toward a conference that they can present at. 
  • Option 2: Students may decide to attend a conference without having a paper accepted. Although not presenting their research, this option will still provide a professional development opportunity to students. 


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