Undergraduate Library Research Opportunity comes to an end


Melissa Nunez – General Assignment Reporter

The deadline for the Friends of Hilton C. Buley Library Undergraduate Research Awards has come to pass. The open-ended research opportunity was designed so Southern students could explore a variety of subjects in a multitude of creative venues, one of the only requirements being that library resources were utilized during the planning, production, as well as the completion of the assignment, said Shirley Cavanagh, head of access and services division at the library.

“Our requirements were actually very liberal so you could do an art performance, a musical composition, it didn’t have to be a research paper,” said Cavanagh. “What we wanted students to do was show how they used the library resources to start, process and then finish their project. For the most part, it was heavily research papers.”

Cavanagh said one freshman or sophomore and one junior or senior will be selected to win a $500 award and, while the deadline passed Feb. 15, students can partake in the opportunity again next year; although, freshman and sophomore submissions were scarce and improvements will have to be made to attract more underclassmen participation in the future.

“If we find out what would make students more willing to submit, whether our rules or our documents are too strict or too restraining and need to be even more liberal, I think that’s something that we have to look at,” said Cavanagh. “Maybe even getting more feedback from faculty to encourage students in their classes and say, ‘I think this paper or this research project is worthy of applying.’”

Boris Boamah, senior accounting major and student worker for the library’s circulation desk, said the research opportunity did not attract underclassmen applicants due to a lack of advertising as well as students’ overall indifference towards scholarship programs.

“Scholarships in general, a lot of students don’t know about them. They’re not being broadcasted enough to students. With the library research, the only way I saw it was from the stand at the reference desk,” said Boamah. “You can put it up on Southern’s homepage, but a lot of students don’t really look for scholarships anymore. Scholarships are hard to get so people get deterred or they don’t want apply because they don’t think they’re going to get it.”

Rachel Riccio, senior anthropology major, said she submitted a research paper about death and funeral rights in Japan. The subject always fascinated Riccio and she was given the opportunity to do further research for her medical anthropology class and in the culmination of her term paper, the library offered her three good, scholarly textbooks as well as two digital web sources.

Riccio added the Library’s various scholarly sources give students a structured, reputable edge to their open-ended creative research assignments.

“I think it’s great that it’s so open and broad but it’s through the scope of the library because at our age where technology is so accessible you have to remember not all sources on the internet are credible, whereas when you get something from Buley, it is probably peer-reviewed, it’s probably scholarly, it’s probably appropriate and going to meet the expectations of your professors,” said Riccio. “So I think it’s very good to have it very broad and very open but then have it through that lens so it is at a professional scholarly level.”

Photo Credit: Staff Photo

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