Thousand-Dollar Tips: The Essay

Slide header across top reads "University of Washington Library Research Award for Undergraduates." Text on left reads, "Scoring Rubric: What are the judges looking for? Project = 20 points, Reflective Essay = 30 points, Bibliography = 10 points." Box below text reads "The quality of your essay is important." On the right side is a pie chart showing the Reflective Essay as 50% of the whole.

Congratulations! It’s Spring Break and you (or you and your teammates) are thinking about submitting your project to the UW Library Research Award for Undergraduates in anticipation of winning $500-$1000!

Your project work is super-important and will undoubtedly add to the growing universe of knowledge in your field. Thank you for that! Keep in mind that the project is a portion of your submission and that you’re going to turn in your project, a bibliography, and an essay that explains how you went about your research, what you learned as a researcher, and why you did the things you did.

That essay is important (it accounts for half of the evaluation of your project!), so start thinking now about what you want to say in it. Our judges are a mix of librarians and faculty members and they are interested in hearing about the process you used to find, evaluate, and use information.

We’re here to help with this! Take a look at our submission guidelines for questions and suggestions to help draft your essay and then set up an appointment with a subject librarian to learn or brush up on how to find, evaluate, and use information. Or, stop by Research Help in SNO to get help finding a place to start. To get help writing, make an appointment with the Teaching and Learning Center for a free one-on-one 25-minute writing consultation.

Most importantly, don’t wait to consider how you’re going to write your essay–we’re eager to read it!

The University Libraries recognizes the excellence and creativity of students through the annual Library Research Award for Undergraduates. The award is given to undergraduates who demonstrate outstanding ability to identify, locate, select, evaluate, and synthesize library and other information resources and to use them in the creation of an original course project. The award illustrates the mission of the University Libraries to enrich the quality of life and advance intellectual discovery by connecting people with knowledge and commitment to the educational mission of the University of Washington.

Questions? Visit our page of Frequently Asked Questions or contact the Library Research Award for Undergraduates Committee ( regarding the application process, eligibility, or the competition in general.

These awards have been made possible by The Kenneth S. and Faye G. Allen Library Endowment, the Friends of the Libraries, and the Population Health Initiative.

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