USC Libraries Research Award

The USC Libraries Research Award recognizes excellence and creativity in the use of USC Libraries’ research collections and services. Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to submit papers or projects they have completed at USC in a for-credit class or through independent study during the spring, summer, or fall semesters of each calendar year. In addition to papers, a reflective essay of 500-1000 words is required. For details, see the descriptions for each award level.

Submission Guidelines
To be eligible for consideration submissions must take the form of an analytical or creative essay or a research paper. The work must have been completed while the author was a student at USC during the current calendar year (spring, summer or fall semesters) and in connection with for-credit coursework or independent study at USC.

Undergraduate award
The work can be in any field of study, but must have made use of services and research resources including, but not limited to, printed resources, databases, primary sources, and materials in all media, held in and provided by USC Libraries.

The reflective essay must address the following:
- how you became a better researcher by using the resources of the USC Libraries
- how you gained a deeper understanding of finding and evaluating resources through the use of USC Libraries’ collections and services
- if you consulted or interacted with library faculty and/or staff, and how this impacted your research

Graduate award
The work can be in any field of study, but must use primary sources in collections held in the USC Libraries for your research (for example, in the Cinematic Arts Library, Special Collections, East Asian Library, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Architecture and Fine Arts Library, Music Library, or Shoah Visual History Archive). Materials retrieved from the Digital Library qualify as long as the original primary source material is held in a USC repository.

The reflective essay must discuss how primary sources informed your research process and:
- helped build personal connections with history
- contributed to refining your cognitive, investigative, deductive reasoning, and problem-solving skills
- helped gain a deeper knowledge of the variety of formats in which information is presented
- how interactions with library faculty and/or staff as well as physical collections impacted your research

All submissions are judged on quality and depth of library research, quality of the selection of resources relevant to your research topic, analysis and interpretation of library resources, and overall quality of writing. The reflective essay is an important part of your submission. It is a way for you to talk about the discovery and choice of resources, your research process overall, as well as how library resources, services, and interactions with library faculty and/or staff impacted your research. Papers must be submitted electronically by 5 p.m. on the deadline date, using the submission form.

The Award
A panel of faculty and community experts will judge the submissions and select the winners that will be announced at the award reception.The first place graduate winner receives $500; the second place graduate winner receives $250.The first place undergraduate winner receives $300; the second place undergraduate winner receives $150. All winning papers will be added to the University Archives. First place winners will be invited to serve on the jury for the following year.

Contact Michaela Ullmann at or Sue Luftschein at

Support for the awards is generously provided by:

» Guide to the USC Libraries Research Award