W&M Libraries Undergraduate Research Awards

The Undergraduate Library Research Awards recognize creative and original library research completed by William & Mary undergraduate students. Prizes will be given to the students whose papers best illustrate exemplary use of W&M Libraries tools and resources, and the development of information-gathering skills. 

The four awards will be granted in two categories (freshman/sophomore and junior/senior). First prize winners in category will each receive $750, and second prize winners will receive $500.  

Awardees will be asked to deposit their research paper into Scholar Works and meet with library staff to create a short video about their research to be shared on library social media. 

Now accepting applications for 2022-2023 award cycle. Submit by February 3, 2023. 


Applicants must:

  • Be undergraduates enrolled in a degree program in any discipline at William & Mary.
  • Have completed a research paper for a William & Mary credit course offered during either the Spring 2022, Summer 2022, or Fall 2022 semesters. 
  • Individual and group papers are eligible, but works co-written with faculty are not permissible. Groups with students that cross the categories (ex. freshmen and juniors) will be placed in the junior/senior category.

At this time only written papers and projects are accepted.

Application Process

Submit your application >

Applications must include:

  1. The final version of your research paper, in Word or PDF format. The project must include a bibliography of sources used in its creation. If you are submitting a media project, it must include audio presenting the work. PowerPoint slides without audio cannot be accepted.
  2. A brief 500-700 word essay reflecting on your research process and scholarly growth. Essays should describe your research techniques, challenges you encountered, how you used library resources and services to complete your project, and how your research contributed to your scholarly growth. This essay is given the greatest weight in the judging process (see criteria below). 
  3. A signed form from the professor the paper or project was completed under indicating support for the submission of the research to the Undergraduate Research Award. Download the form for your professor to complete.

Please do not submit any other materials, such as portfolios or sources.

Selection Criteria

A panel composed of three librarians/library staff and two teaching faculty will judge entries based on how well they demonstrate the following: 

  • Originality, depth, breadth or sophistication in the use of library collections 
  • Exceptional ability to select, evaluate, and synthesize library resources and successfully use them in the creation of a project or paper 
  • Evidence of personal learning and development of research skills. 
  • The essay describing your research techniques will be given the most weight in the judging process. 

Expectations for achievement will be commensurate with the applicant’s class year and the requirements of the discipline. Please review the rubric the selection committee uses as you create your application packet.  

Helpful Hints

Ask your professor at least one week before the deadline if they will endorse the submission of your research. Your application will not be considered without this.

Your library research essay is your best opportunity to showcase your use of library resources. Make sure the essay reflects work completed for the submitted paper or project. For example, don’t write about your extensive use and love for the library catalog if a quick check of your bibliography reveals you didn’t cite any sources that can be found through the catalog. Questions you might address: 

  1. How did you refine your topic in light of the information you discovered? 
  2. How did specific library services (ex: appointment with a librarian) and resources (ex: databases, library catalog, etc) contribute to your research?  
  3. Were any sources particularly important for your research? If so, how and why? 
  4. How did you evaluate the sources you identified? How did you determine they were relevant and appropriate to your research topic?  
  5. What types of challenges did you encounter while conducting your research? How did you address them?  
  6. What decisions did you make in the course of your research regarding avenues of inquiry to pursue or not to pursue? 
  7. How does your research project show evidence of independent inquiry or creativity in your use of information? 
  8. How did you grow as a scholar as a result of your involvement in the project/research? 

See past winning papers by visiting Scholar Works

Questions? Pease contact the W&M Libraries Research Department at sweref@wm.edu