Tips for Writing an Essay for the Undergraduate Research Award

The required essay is your opportunity to provide the awards committee with insight into how the library and its resources enriched and enhanced your work. Please note that due to the nature of this award, the essay portion of the application is weighted as much as the project itself, and therefore we encourage you to provide us with a thoughtful reflection of your library research experience.

The following questions are intended as prompts to help guide you as you consider and write about your library research experience. They are not intended to be answered directly, but to be included in your essay as appropriate.

Process: How you crafted your thesis, selected your tools, developed search techniques, and chose which collections to explore.

  1. How did you think about and refine your preliminary research topic? Did the library help to incubate your ideas?
  2. What specific library search tools did you use and why did you choose them?
  3. What aspects of your original ideas had to be adapted due to limitations in sources, or other obstacles? How did you overcome this challenge?

Sources: Selection and evaluation of resources available.

  1. How deeply or widely did you explore your topic area before deciding on your specific project?
  2. How did you evaluate your selected materials?
  3. Did your search for information result in both an adequate breadth and depth of material?
  4. How much of your research was done independently? Did you seek and/or receive guidance from others in how to locate or best utilize the resources available to you?

Putting it All Together: Ways in which you used the sources you discovered to support your thesis or argument, and original ideas that may have stemmed from your research.

  1. What did you learn about finding and evaluating information on your topic or in your discipline?
  2. Were you able to recognize bias or contradictions in information sources? How did you balance these viewpoints with your own?
  3. How did you modify your original thesis as a result of what you discovered during your research?

What You Learned: Your understanding of library research and how you may have grown or changed as an independent researcher.

  1. What advancements do you see in your library search techniques that you believe have made you a more successful researcher?
  2. What have you learned about your own style of research, or what changes might you make when researching future projects?
  3. Is there a particular tool that you felt was invaluable to your research during the creation of this project?