Deadline: Thursday, March 31, 2016, at 5:00 p.m.

The Giovale Library Undergraduate Research Awards recognize students producing outstanding research projects such as: papers, videos, posters, and blogs that demonstrate information literacy and the effective use of Library resources.

A judging committee comprised of faculty, students, staff and librarians will select 3 prizes:

  • First place: $200
  • Second place: $100
  • Emerging researcher award: $50 for a project from a 100-level course

View the judging rubric and reflection tips below to understand how submissions are judged.

Questions? Contact Chloe Barnett: 801-832-2266 or

To be eligible for the Giovale Library Undergraduate Research Award you must:

  • Be currently enrolled as a undergraduate at Westminster College;
  • Have completed the research project under consideration for a credit course or under the direction of a faculty member at Westminster College during either the May/Summer 2015, Fall 2015, or Spring 2016 semester;
  • Agree to allow Giovale Library and Westminster College to use your research project and application materials to promote the Award and undergraduate research conducted at the College.

Reflection*Applicant fails to articulate process by which topic was developed *Search strategies omitted or very general *Does not identify appropriate finding aids and tools *Does not identify criteria for evaluating information sources *Does not display evidence of knowledge or learning related to the process of exploration and discovery *Does not display evidence of use of appropriate search strategies and services *Does not employ transferable or reproducible strategies *Indicates a basic understanding of library research*Topic or question is adequate but could be improved by more refinement or an assigned topic was only minimally developed *Search strategies described generally (suggest a physical route, but not a conceptual one) No description of responses to failure *Identifies basic or general finding aids and library services such as librarians and reference books, but omits other appropriate aids and services (e.g. interlibrary loan, or journal databases) *Criteria for evaluation of sources incomplete *Displays awareness of simple strategies but not advanced *Indicates a deeper understanding of library research and adequate skills required for appropriate undergraduate level *Topic or question is thoughtfully developed and accurately reflects time and resources available *Search strategies explicitly described, including unmet challenges, information gaps, and responses to failure *Displays awareness of all potential finding aids appropriate to the inquiry *Displays clear criteria for evaluation of sources selected *Displays dynamic knowledge and/or learning of the information universe explored. *Evidence of use of controlled vocabularies, advanced search techniques, resource sharing, reference, and consultation services *Indicates a thorough understanding of library research strategies appropriate to undergraduate level.
Bibliography*Sources used appear to be generated exclusively from general knowledge tools (e.g. Google or Academic Search Premier), not in-depth disciplinary tools (e.g. CINAHL or U.S. Census datasets, etc.) *Sources are repetitive and unvaried (e.g. all newspaper articles or all from one perspective or school of thought) *May cite sources, but not in a standard or consistent way *Sources are not relevant to topic or are not used to inform project.* Uses some variety of basic sources (books, websites, articles) but falls short of complete breadth and depth *Sources meet assignment requirements in number and genre, but may lack breadth and some may lack rigor, currency as appropriate, or relevance *Cites sources in a standard or consistent way *Sources display rich variety in appropriateness and format *Sources may include less common formats such as maps, AV materials, archives, government documents or interviews *Sources display awareness of the need to dig beneath the surface of information to find difficult but illuminating materials (ex. finding resources in unexpected disciplines, following a trail of scholarship through bibliographies, etc.) *Cites sources in a standard or consistent way
Faculty assessment of project*Project does not respond to assignment parameters *Student’s work does not demonstrate understanding of disciplinary methods and conventions *Sources do not appropriately or thoroughly support argument *Project meets assignment parameters *Project generally follows methodology and conventions of discipline *Sources selected adequately support argument *Project exceeds assignment parameters *Project follows, challenges, or enhances methodology and conventions of discipline *Sources selected and used compare to professional work in the field
ProjectLittle or no originality in topic or question Poorly written, obscuring quality of research and claimsArgument takes familiar path with some originality Writing lacks some clarity or emphasis, partially obscuring quality of research and claims Project addresses significant questions within a discipline Well-written, clearly identifying convergence of research and argument
GLOSSARY: Research strategy: Any deliberate, structured attempt, either individually or collaboratively, to develop a plan for a research project or to search a finding aid. This may include identifying and accessing background or reference sources, identifying appropriate databases for specific purposes, consulting librarians, instructors, or other experts to gather leads for further discovery, developing a list of terms and concepts related to the line of inquiry, etc. Library research: i.e. Information, or information-based, research. Distinguished from lab, field, survey, or other research methodology employed for creating new information. Finding aid: Any information resource intended to help a reader find further resources on a topic. May include encyclopedias, research databases, bibliographies, handbooks, text-books, etc. Controlled vocabularies: Technical or specialized vocabularies used by a discipline or a disciplinary database to describe topics, concepts, theories and the like related to the work done by professionals in a field. (e.g. instead of using the keyword ACTH in Psychology using the subject term Corticotropin.) Adapted from the University of Washington Libraries’ Library Research Award for Undergraduates Evaluation Criteria

In addition to reviewing the judges’ selection rubric, you may find the following questions useful as you reflect on your library research experience.

  • Did this project build on a previous paper or ideas from other classes?
  • In what ways did the library and its resources help shape your ideas for your projects?
  • What did you discover about the tools and techniques for research in the library?
  • What did you learn about finding and evaluating information on your topic, or in your discipline?
  • What discoveries did you make in the Library by chance or coincidence? And, which through thoroughly planned research strategies?
  • What lessons about the general research process did you take away from the experience?
  • Would you do anything differently as a result of what you learned from this research process?

Please note that the judges rely heavily on what they learn of your research through this reflection. You will probably need at least a page or so, or a comparable length multimedia project, to conduct a quality reflection. 

First Place

First Place: Avenel Rolfsen

Avenel Rolfsen, for her senior thesis, "People on the Periphery: The Situation of Jewish Women During World War II"

Faculty Advisor: Gary Marquardt

I built this paper off a number of published memoirs as well as primary sources and blips in larger books. I have applied themes from African history as well as Middle Eastern to inform my argument. Some African historians claim that during the colonial period women gained autonomy an idea I have applied to my research. Furthermore, I have looked at historical examples of prostitution in the Middle East to inform my understanding of prostitution in North Africa. I have used articles about women and French Colonial troops in West Africa to inform my understanding of the way women interacted with the military. If there is one things that I have learned from this research it is that the information you are looking for is often never where you think it will be, and that one most cast their net broadly to conduct truly effective research.

Avenel Rolfsen, Reflective Essay

"Most impressive in this paper is its analysis and original approach to an under-, and most likely un-researched, topic and region that had been lurking right beneath the historian’s nose. North Africa has taken a prominent place in WWII literature but its social elements are largely unexplored. Rolfson’s piece makes good use of the available literature on the Jewish labor camps in North Africa during WWII, occupied by Jewish males, and turns the coin to ask, what did Jewish women do during this period? The question is simple. To her surprise, Rolfson not only discovered that historians aren’t asking about women, but fail to acknowledge their activist approaches in mitigating their oppressive circumstances throughout this period."

Gary Marquardt, Faculty recommendation

Second Place

Second Place: Emma DeLoughery

Emma DeLoughery for her senior thesis project and paper "Simulating Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium and Change in Allele Frequency over time using Python"

Faculty Advisor: Brian Avery

Almost everything we do runs on computer code, yet finding scholarly sources that explicitly address and discuss the uses and capabilities of that code is a little more difficult. For my senior thesis project I built a simulation using the coding language Python to model population genetics according to the Hardy-Weinberg law. In writing my thesis paper based on the simulation, I wanted to find instances of other scientists who had used Python in their work. I used the GriffinSearch function available from the Giovale Library, as well as the PubMed database and Google Scholar to find resources…. I found myself crossing disciplines by finding sources not just in science but also in education, as I ultimately hope my simulation will be used in the classroom.

Emma DeLoughery, Reflective Essay

My initial expectations for this project were that if Emma wrote the code for the most basic population genetics equations and made them somewhat user friendly, that would be great . . . .Emma exceeded all of my expectations, turning this into both a research project for both of us, but also a potential teaching tool for me.

Brian Avery, Faculty recommendation

Emerging Researcher

Emerging Researcher: Amy Richards

Amy Richards, for her essay, "Societal Roles in the Development and Perpetuation of Eating Disorders"

Faculty Advisor: Matthew Heimburger

. . . sometimes I was unable to find the information no matter how many relatable keywords I tried or how wide the parameters. As a result I would return to a basic web browser such as Google or my library books to try to find other words I had yet to think of. Yet even then I often could not find what I wanted, so soon I began to realize that many of my initial assumptions and arguments might not have been correct or up-to-date. So sure enough in using keywords corresponding with the opposite of what I expected, I found information on each topic I desired to speak to. This was quite startling and eye-opening to me . . . .

Amy Richards, Reflective Essay

Amy’s work on eating disorders is an extraordinary piece of student research for a freshman to conceive and achieve. It is both sweeping in its scope and careful in its detail, and manages to bring new light and context to a topic many of us think we already understand.

Matthew Heimburger, Faculty recommendation

Undergraduate Research Award Application Form

Upload a 500 – 700 word essay about your research process.

Upload the final version of your research project. It must contain a bibliography.

Add another