Guerrieri Academic Commons arial view from front entrance.

Library Undergraduate Research Prize

The SU Libraries recognize high-quality undergraduate use of the SU Libraries through the SU Libraries Undergraduate Research Prize. The Prize will be awarded near the end of each spring semester to a student research paper or project from the previous calendar year that demonstrates excellence in library research, mastery of the subject, and strong writing skills.


  1. Students must have been a full- or part-time undergraduate at SU at the time the project was completed. The project/paper must have been completed for SU course credit.  Individual or group papers/projects are eligible and may be from courses from any undergraduate class level and discipline.  Honors theses are not eligible, since the Honors College has prizes available for those, but non-honors senior theses are eligible. Creative projects that use research, such as short stories, digital/multimedia projects, or artwork, are welcome. 
  2. Individual or group papers/projects are eligible. If a group paper/project is submitted, the application must include the names of ALL the students who participated in creating the paper/project. A group paper/project cannot be submitted as if it were the work of one individual.
  3. The paper/project must have been completed in the previous calendar year (for example, January-December 2023 for the 2024 prize).
  4. Students must be willing to allow the Libraries to display the winning paper/project in the Libraries. Winning papers/projects will become part of the University Archives and will be posted in SU’s institutional repository, currently SOAR@SU.
  5. Previous winners are eligible as long as the new submission is for different research than what previously won the prize.


There will be two prizes awarded, one for the best paper/project submitted by a student or group of students with 59 or fewer credits (that is, freshmen/sophomores) at the time of completion of the paper/project and one for the best paper/project submitted by a student or group of students with 60 or more credits (that is, juniors/seniors) at the time of completion of the paper/project. Groups with students in both categories will be judged in the junior/senior category.  The prize in each case will be $250. Winners also will be featured in the Library Matters e-newsletter. When two or more students worked on the same paper/project, the award will be split among the students.

Application Information

A complete application will include:

  • The online SU Libraries Undergraduate Research Prize Application form.
  • A final version of the paper/project. This should be a clean PDF or Word copy, not the copy with the professor’s comments or the grade. If it is a digital/multimedia project, include a link to it rather than uploading the full project.
  • A short (500-750 words) reflective essay articulating your research process and demonstrating your engagement in that process and with the SU Libraries resources (collections, services, staff) that supported and enhanced the process. This is the most important part of your application. While the content and quality of your work is obviously important, the selection committee is more interested in the investigative journey you undertook to create the project and how your research skills and understanding of library services, resources, and collections have improved as a result. 
  • If your project/paper did not include a bibliography, include a bibliography or other appropriate listing of sources consulted.
  • If your project/paper is in a language other than English, include a one-page English-language summary of your paper/project.

To apply, complete the online application at SU Libraries Undergraduate Research Prize Application by the deadline of 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on April 1. The application period opens February 1. As part of the online application, you will upload your paper/project or provide a link to the digital/multimedia project, and you will upload your reflective essay, bibliography/sources consulted list (if one is not included in the paper/project), and English-language summary (if applicable). Written projects and documents should be uploaded as PDFs or Word documents; digital or multimedia projects can be submitted as links or in other formats. By submitting your reflective essay, you grant the SU Libraries permission to quote from it.


The deadline is 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on April 1. Incomplete applications will not be accepted, and late applications will not be considered. Applications and supporting materials will not be returned.

Faculty Support

Once your application is complete, we will email the faculty member for whom you completed the research paper/project and ask for their endorsement. No projects will be considered without faculty endorsement. We will not be asking them to write a letter of support, just to acknowledge that you created this work for credit and they consider it worthy of prize consideration.

Evaluation Process

A selection committee consisting largely or entirely of library staff will evaluate all completed submissions, using the criteria listed below. The committee’s decisions are final.

Evaluation Criteria

Successful applications (your paper/project, reflective essay, and other supporting documentation) will:

  • Make extensive, creative use of diverse library resources and collections in any format.
  • Demonstrate effective application of information literacy and fluency principles:
    • Determining information needs
    • Evaluating and analyzing information
    • Managing, organizing, and synthesizing information
    • Applying information in the context of the research project
    • Making responsible use of information by providing appropriate and accurate citations and credits
  • Show evidence of significant personal knowledge in the methods of research and inquiry.
  • Be well-written, by which we mean it is well-organized and clear, has few to no grammatical and spelling errors, and demonstrates mastery of a citation style appropriate to the discipline of the paper/project. 


We have borrowed heavily from the University of California at San Diego, Lehigh University, Wellesley College, Fairfield University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Claremont Colleges for the ideas and language used in creating this prize.

Previous Winners