W&M Libraries Undergraduate Research Awards

Due to budget constraints we are unable to offer a 2020-2021 Undergraduate Research Award

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.  

Winners of the 2019-2020 Undergraduate Library Research Awards

Freshman/Sophomore Category:

  • First Place: Helen Heaton '23, "HIV in the Rural American South"
  • Second Place: Sydney Kennedy '22, "The Proto-Portraiture of North Etruscan Cinerary Urns and the Philosophy of Elith Self-Worth"

Junior/Senior Category:

  • First Place: Meredith Barber '20, "The 'Cherry Tree Rebellion': Jefferson's Controversial Addition to the Washington Memorial Landscape, 1936-1939"
  • Second Place: Sam Laveson '20, "Compliments, Compliment Responses, and Gender"


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 2019, Summer 2019, or Fall 2019 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. A draft or final version of your research paper, in Word or PDF format. The project must include a bibliography of sources used in its creation.
  2. A brief 500-700 word essay reflecting on your research process and scholarly growth. Essays should describe your research strategies, 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.

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 of books if a quick check of your bibliography reveals you didn’t cite any books. Consider the following questions:

  1. How did you refine your topic in light of the information you discovered?
  2. How did specific library services and resources contribute to your research? Were certain sources particularly important?
  3. What decisions did you make in the course of your research regarding avenues of inquiry to pursue or not to pursue?
  4. How does your research project show evidence of independent inquiry or creativity in your use of information?
  5. How did you grow as a scholar as a result of your involvement in the project/research?


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