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Research Statement Guidelines

​​​​Research Statement Guidelines

To be considered for the First-Year Program Library Research Prize, your essay must be accompanied by a “Research Statement” in which you will reflect on your use of library research tools, sources, and services at each stage of the research process, emphasizing what you learned.


Your research statement should be written in the form of a narrative essay and be 500 - 1,000 words in length.  

It will be evaluated on how well you address ALL the following questions:
  • What is your research topic, thesis, or question?
  • How did your research inform or shape your research topic, thesis, or question?
  • What research tools did you use? How did you decide which research tools to use?
  • What search terms or search strategy did you use?
  • Which criteria did you use to choose sources for your paper (e.g. currency, authority, etc.)?
  • What challenges or successes did you encounter during the research process? How did you deal with challenges? 
  • What did you learn from the process?
You do not have to answer these questions in order but your answers should be woven into your statement. Be as detailed as possible and incorporate specific examples from your experience.

Additional Considerations

Below are additional questions to consider as a way to help you answer the required questions above. Use these questions as prompts to identify what were for you the most significant decisions, strategies, discoveries, and things learned during your research.

  • How did you identify or develop your research topic, thesis, or question? 
  • Did you decide to change or modify it in any way (e.g. narrow or broaden the scope; change it slightly or completely)? If so, how and why?
  • How did you decide what types of research tools to use (e.g. databases; catalogs; reference books; directories)?
  • Which specific research tools (e.g. the names of individual databases or reference sources) did you use, why did you use them, and how well did they cover your topic?
  • How did you decide which search terms to use? Describe the process of developing your search strategy: did you incorporate synonyms, variant spellings, subject terms, or Boolean operators (AND/OR) into your search strategies?
  • Did you use any filters, limits, or advanced search features in the databases? 
  • How did you determine which sources were of sufficient or appropriate currency, authority, accuracy, purpose, relevance and scholarliness to use in your essay?
  • To what extent did your search results help support your thesis or answer your research question?
  • How and when did you get help with your research?
  • Were there any steps of the research process that struck you as being significantly more or less challenging than expected? How did you address the more challenging steps?
  • What aspects of your research process did you consider to be the most successful and productive?
  • What did you discover about your own personal style of conducting research?
  • How did your personal style of conducting research change or improve as a result of this project?


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