Award Essay Tips

In addition to reviewing the evaluation criteria, keep in mind the following questions as you reflect on your library research experience.

Note: These tips are offered to guide your reflection. You are not required to answer all of these specific questions.

Research Process

  • How did you think about and refine your preliminary research topic? Did you have to change or adapt your topic based on the needs or restrictions of the assignment, or the nature of the information found in your research? What might you have done differently?
  • What specific strategies did you develop for finding relevant information? Were these strategies successful? Did you make any discoveries through serendipity rather than strategy? What was the path your research took?
  • What tools and techniques did you use for research in the library? Why? What worked, and what didn’t? What might you have done differently?


  • What sources did you use? Which were the most helpful (or least helpful), and why? Did you gravitate to particular types or formats? If so, why?
  • What criteria did you use for selecting and evaluating your sources?
  • Did your assumptions about what information would be available or useful change during the research process?
  • What did you learn about finding information on your topic—or in your discipline?

Thesis and Synthesis

  • How did you use your sources to support your thesis?
  • Did you make any refinements to your thesis as a result of your research? What original ideas stemmed from the synthesis of your research?

What lessons about the research process did you take away from the experience?           

  • What might you change about the research process that you did for this project, if given the chance to do it over?
  • What have you learned about yourself as a researcher?
  • What research expertise have you gained? What do you feel you still need to learn?
Note: You can see examples of past research strategy essays beginning with the 2020 award winners in the Wellesley College Institutional Repository.