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Award for Undergraduate Research

The University Libraries Award for Undergraduate Research recognizes and rewards excellence in scholarly and creative projects that incorporate the use of University Libraries collections, resources and services.

Submission deadline is Wednesday, April 23, 2025


Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must be USC Columbia undergraduates at any class level in any major.

  • Submitted projects must be completed during the previous Summer, Fall or current Spring term
  • Course assignments, independent studies or other scholarly or creative projects are accepted
  • Group projects are eligible, but each applicant must submit their own research essay
  • Any format that can be reviewed by the panel is allowed (e.g., written work, slideshow, video, artwork, website, etc.)
  • Applicants must agree to contribute to a display about their research mounted by library staff for public exhibition

Application Procedure

To be eligible to win, applicants must submit all materials by the deadline.

  • Application form (see below)
  • 500-700 words describing your research process and use of library collections, resources and services
  • Letter of support from a faculty member (emailed to the chair)
  • Final version of the research project
  • Bibliography of all sources consulted

More Information

A panel of USC teaching faculty and librarians will judge entries based on all submitted materials. The panel is interested in the quality of the overall project and evidence of the applicant's research process and personal learning.

Scoring Rubric [docx]

In a 500-700 word personal essay, reflect upon your experience with the research process for this project and use of library collections, resources and services. The following questions are offered as a guide to developing your essay. You are not required or restricted to addressing just these questions.

  • In what ways did using the library influence the development of your ideas for this project? How did you think about and refine your initial topic?
  • What did you discover about the tools and techniques for research in the library? Why did you use the tools and techniques that you did? What discoveries did you make by chance or serendipity and which through careful planning?
  • What did you learn about finding, selecting and evaluating information on your topic or in the subject area? Did you have trouble finding some kinds of information? Describe your decision-making process for solving any challenges you faced.
  • What lessons about the research process did you take away from the experience?

Faculty sponsoring an applicant should submit a letter of support commenting on how the student's work meets the evaluation criteria. The student must have a letter of support from a faculty member to submit a complete application package.

The review panel is especially interested in how the student's use of library collections, resources and services contributed to making the project comprehensive, original or unique.

Letters should be emailed to the chair of the review panel as a message or an attachment.

The letter will become the property of University Libraries, University of South Carolina and may be used in an exhibit.

When preparing your bibliography:

  • Format your bibliography using a style guide appropriate to your project's subject area. Consult the library style guides for examples of how to cite some common sources in APA, Chicago Manual of Style, and MLA.
  • Cite all sources you used even if you did not directly quote from them.
  • If your bibliography is really long, consider organizing your sources into categories or you can organize it alphabetically.


Please complete the online application form, including uploading all required documents (preferably as PDF files) by the submission deadline.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.