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Library Award for Undergraduate Research

Evaluation Criteria

What is “good” research?
This question can be answered a variety of ways depending on the subject under scrutiny. The hallmark of good research is the use of the best-available resources for your topic regardless of format. While you might be tempted to rely exclusively on full-text electronic resources to support a paper, there are many instances in which this would result in a woefully under-researched paper. Historical research, for instance, might feature a preponderance of primary sources supported by secondary monographic (book-length treatments of a topic) resources. By the same token, there are some topics in which the best, cutting-edge research in available predominantly in article form. Research on medical and technical topics, for example, will lean heavily toward articles.

Having said this, there are some clear-cut examples of bad research. A paper exclusively using citations from Wikipedia is, indeed, bad research. In fact, a paper using any citations from Wikipedia is suspect from the start. Wikipedia is not an appropriate resource for good research. On the other hand, a paper using appropriate sources which are incorrectly or incompletely cited is bad research. A foundation of good research is the ability of the reader to replicate your work. If they can’t locate the resources you have cited, then you have failed in your research.

Evaluation Criteria

1. Sophistication as well as depth or breadth in the use of the library’s offerings – such use might include, but is not limited to: print, electronic, and microform materials.

2. Outstanding ability to locate and evaluate the best-possible library resources in support of the assignment.

3. Evidence of significant personal advancement in understanding the process of research and inquiry.

   a. Do the resources cited actually support the paper’s thesis, or are they simply included to meet some minimum number of sources required?
   b. Is there clear evidence that the student understands the role of research in crafting a well-written and strongly supported paper?

4. Complete and accurate citation of all resources used in the paper.

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