The Library Research Prize and Another Year of Student Research Success

In collaboration with the First-Year Writing Program, the DePaul University Library is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2018 Library Research Prize: Lexi Jackson, Shane Waggoner and Lauren Yaccino. Their essays respectively covered the areas of gender and sexual identity, college student mental health, and net neutrality. All three winners were honored and presented with their Library Research Prize certificate and check for $50.00 by University Librarian, Scott Walter, at DePaul’s annual First-Year Program Writing Showcase on the evening of Wednesday, May 23rd in the Cortelyou Commons.

Now in its second year, the Library Research Prize is awarded to First-Year Writing students whose researched essays demonstrate excellence in the application of information literacy skills—including expertise in the discovery, evaluation, and use of information tools and resources.

In addition to their essays, Library Research Prize entrants were required to submit a separate research statement, explaining how they went about the process of information exploration and discovery, and what they learned from it. From both the research statement and the essay, librarian judges sought evidence of learning through experimentation and exploration at each step of the research process.

Here are some of the judges’ highlights selected from the winning entries:

Lexi Jackson: “An Exploration of Conversion Therapy” (WRD-104, instructed by Michael Raleigh)

Lexi described how, at an early stage of her research, she identified new and unfamiliar terminology related to her topic, and observed the importance of keyword choices in retrieving relevant search results. She noted: “The language surrounding gender and sexual identity can vary substantially even with a community, often bearing significant implications in regards to a writer’s perspective,” and she described employing different search terms to achieve a “true diversity in perspective” among her sources. Lexi’s ideas drew support from a wide variety of sources, including scholarly materials that provided historical and theoretical context to the more current psychological research in this field.

Shane Waggoner: “First Year College Students and Mental Health: An Investigation of New College Students and Mental Health Services at DePaul University” (WRD-104, instructed by Hannah Lee)

Shane surveyed the provision of mental health services across multiple academic institutions, and he succeeded in using a variety of sources of national mental health trends and data, along with professional tools and background sources such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). He stated: “I took all these factors into account when formulating a [research] question that would be specific to DePaul’s counseling services.” Shane’s essay also demonstrated excellence in relating the information he sourced locally to the findings of studies covering the broader national context.

Lauren Yaccino: “Net Neutrality Is in Desperate Need of an Overhaul” (WRD-104, instructed by Gabrielle Rose Simon)

From the start, Lauren recognized her topic was “incredibly broad,” and through exploration of different sides of the debate was able to narrow the scope of her interest. She commented, “I decided to research…the Net Neutrality debate from a technical and economical point of view, since the sources I found that used those lenses interested me the most.” Lauren demonstrated particular care in evaluating her sources, applying a range of criteria that included publication dates, author credentials, and evidence of fairness or bias in representing controversial issues.

Lauren Yaccino, Shane Waggoner, Lexi Jackson and Scott Walter.

In addition to thanking our winners and all the other Library Research Prize entrants, the Library expresses its sincere thanks to all the faculty and staff of DePaul University’s First-Year Writing Program, and especially to the Director of First-Year Writing, Julie Bokser, for making this research-writing collaboration possible!

Student participation in the Library Research Prize competition has grown significantly since our inaugural year, and we look forward to even more opportunities to document our first-year students’ mastery of information literacy skills in the coming year. If you would like to know more about the Library Research Prize for First-Year Writing or the library’s instructional program for first-year students, please contact Jessica Alverson, Assistant Coordinator of Library Instruction.

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