Research process essay

The research process essay is your opportunity to provide the awards committee with insight into how the library and its resources enriched and enhanced your work.

Please note that this essay portion of the application is weighted as much as the project itself, and therefore we encourage you to provide us with a thoughtful reflection of your library research experience. Please see our evaluation rubric (PDF) for details about how the full applications will be reviewed.

The following questions are intended as prompts to help guide you as you consider and write about your library research experience. They are not intended to be answered directly, but to be included in your research process essay as appropriate.

Your essay should be about 500‐750 words in length. 


Choosing your focus and developing your search techniques

  • How did you think about and refine your preliminary research topic? How deeply or widely did you explore your topic area before deciding on your thesis? Did the library help develop your ideas?
  • What specific library search tools did you use and why did you choose them?
  • What aspects of your original ideas had to be adapted due to limitations in sources or other obstacles you discovered along the way? How did you overcome this challenge?


Selection and evaluation of resources

  • How did you evaluate your selected materials for objectivity, authority, accuracy, currency, and comprehensiveness?
  • Did you seek out a wide variety of source types and/or formats, such as primary or multimedia, during your research process?
  • Did you seek sources from various perspectives?  Were you able to recognize bias or contradictions in information sources? How did you balance these viewpoints with your own?
  • Did you seek guidance from experts, such as librarians, faculty, or archivists, in how to locate or best use the resources available to you?
  • If appropriate to your project, did you use materials from or visit other libraries and/or archives?

Putting it all together

Your understanding of library research and how you may have grown as a researcher

  • What did you learn about finding and evaluating information on your topic or in your discipline?
  • Is there a particular tool that you felt was invaluable to your research during the creation of this project?
  • What changes might you make when researching future projects, or what advancements do you see in your search techniques that you believe have made you a more successful researcher?