W&M Libraries Undergraduate Library 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 will receive $750, and second prize winners will receive $500.  Awards will be given in each category only if merited.

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. Award recipients may also be presented with additional opportunities to share their research.

The application process for 2023-2024 closed on February 9th, 2024.


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 2023, Summer 2023, or Fall 2023 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. Please note, for COLL 100 projects a transcript must be provided for it to be eligible. 

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 with an oral presentation component, it must include a written transcript. PowerPoint slides without a transcript of the spoken presentation cannot be accepted.
  2. A 500-700 word Reflective Essay on your research process and scholarly growth. This essay is given the greatest weight in the judging process (see Helpful Hints below). Essays should include:
    • Detailed descriptions of engagement with library services, staff, or resources, including, but not limited to: consultations with librarians, databases, primary source materials, books, journals and/or materials in any media/format;
    • Clear and thoughtful explanation of rationale for selection and evaluation of sources;
    • Challenges you encountered or game-changing moments in your research process;
    • Insightful reflection on your growth as a scholar as a result of this research project. 
  3. A completed Faculty Statement of Support Form from the professor the paper or project was completed under is required. We recommend sharing the hyperlink to the form with your professor. 

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 Reflective Essay is your best opportunity to showcase your use of library resources and your research journey. Make sure the essay reflects work completed for the submitted 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. Also please refrain from describing your overall project or the assignment requirements -- this information is redundant and found elsewhere in the application. 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