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Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research: Guidance for Students

Content section: 

Application Procedures

Applicants need to submit five documents that are listed in the How to Apply section

Research Essay

Writing a reflective essay on your research process is an opportunity for you to describe your research strategy, your methods, and what you learned along the way.

Keep in mind that this is a research prize; while the content and quality of your final project are important, the selection committee is more interested in the investigative journey you undertook to create that project and how your research skills and understanding/use of library services, resources, and collections have improved as a result.

As you write your essay, keep in mind the four key points below. (Note: We’ve included some prompting questions below to spark reflection; these are not intended to be answered directly.)

  1. Consider the process: how you crafted your thesis, selected your search tools, developed search techniques, and chose which library collections to explore?

    1. How did you think about and refine your preliminary research topic?
    2. What specific strategies did you develop for finding relevant information?
    3. Which discoveries did you make by chance and which through planned search strategies?
    4. Reflect on the process of adapting your interests into the scope of the paper. How did you modify your topic given the time you had available for research and writing, the required length of the paper, and the nature of the information you found?
    5. What specific library search tools or resources did you use and why?
  2. Consider your sources: the types and formats that you chose, how deeply or widely you explored your topic area, how you evaluated and selected materials, and how carefully you cited what you selected.

    1. Did you have trouble finding some types or formats of information and if so, how did you overcome this challenge?
    2. Did your assumptions about what information would be available change throughout the research process?
    3. Did you have some reasons for not selecting specific resources, even though they appeared promising?
    4. What did you learn about finding information on your topic or in your discipline? Was it necessary to move outside your discipline to find sufficient sources?
  3. Pulling it all together: how you used these sources to support your thesis and what original ideas stemmed from the synthesis of your research.

    1. How much did the sources you used provide support for your thesis?
    2. How did you balance the evidence that you found?
  4. What you learned: how your understanding of library research changed and how you have grown as an independent researcher.

    1. What did you learn about your own research process and style?
    2. What expertise have you gained as a researcher?
    3. What do you still need to learn?
    4. What would you change about your process if you had another chance?

Remember to be specific, be descriptive, and choose good examples to illustrate your points.

Research Project

A draft or final version of the research project can be submitted. Projects in all media are encouraged.

Written projects should be approximately 7-30 pages for lower-division students and 20-60 pages for upper-division students. NOTE: These page lengths are guidelines, not restrictions. If you have questions about project length, please email prize@lists.berkeley.edu

Digital projects: If Web-based, email a URL of the digital project along with the other application components to prize@lists.berkeley.edu. If the project is in a format that cannot be submitted electronically, such as an architectural model, or other 3-dimensional physical object, email prize@lists.berkeley.edu to make arrangements as soon as possible to ensure that the physical object is received before the submission deadline.


A bibliography or other appropriate listing of sources consulted. Even if your bibliography is part of your project, please also save it as a separate Microsoft Word document or PDF. When preparing your bibliography keep in mind these points:

  • Use bibliography format and conventions appropriate to the discipline.
  • Cite all sources you used, even if you did not directly quote from them. See this online Library guide for tips on how to cite your sources: https://www.lib.berkeley.edu/research-support/cite-sources
  • For long bibliographies, subdividing your sources into categories may be helpful, although an alphabetical list is also acceptable.

Faculty Statement of Support

A statement of support from the UCB faculty member or instructor for whose class the research paper or project was completed is required. Please have your faculty member(s) complete the statement of support and email (prize@lists.berkeley.edu) or deliver to the chair of the Prize committee before the submission deadline.

NOTE: It is the applicant's responsibility to make sure that the statement of support has been emailed or mailed by the deadline. The Library Prize committee will not solicit them or send reminders.

Selection Criteria

A panel of UC Berkeley faculty, librarians, and other educators will judge submissions based on how well they demonstrate the following:

  • Sophistication, originality, or unusual depth or breadth in researching library collections, including, but not limited to, printed resources, databases, primary resources, and materials in all media
  • Exceptional ability to locate, select, evaluate, and synthesize library resources to create a project in any media that shows originality and/or has the potential to lead to original research
  • Evidence of significant personal learning with regard to the practice of research and inquiry that shows a likelihood of persisting in the future

Lower-division research projects will be judged separately from upper-division research projects. Expectations for achievement will be commensurate with each applicant's class year and requirements of their discipline.