Library Awards for Research Excellence
The Mount Royal Library Awards for Research Excellence recognizes students producing outstanding scholarly projects that demonstrate research skills and the effective use of information resources.
The Library Awards for Research Excellence celebrates final projects such as essays/papers, film projects, poster presentations, web/technology-based projects, or creative works, along with the research process and learning accomplished through that process.
Submissions must include a reflective essay that describes the research process and a bibliography. You will also be asked to arrange for your instructor to complete the instructor support form. The committee will not consider submissions that are missing these components.
The deadline for submissions is May 14th, 2021.
Please note that for this year's opportunity only electronic versions of research projects will be accepted (no hard copies). Questions about the application process can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emerging Scholar Award - $750
For individual or group projects created in
Senior Individual Award - $1000
For projects created in 4000-level or higher courses, independent studies, capstone or honours thesis work, this category recognizes projects which are larger in scope, represent a higher level of independence and a greater depth of research.
Senior Group Award - $1500
For projects created in 4000-level or higher courses, independent studies, or capstone courses, this category recognizes outstanding student work completed by 2 or more students. The award will be divided equally among group members.
To be eligible for the Mount Royal Library Awards for Research Excellence, you must satisfy the following criteria:
Submitted projects must have been completed as coursework in a credit course, as part of a faculty-supervised directed study or practicum for which credit was received, or as part of a MRU sponsored fellowship program (e..g. Catamount Fellowship). Work completed as a Research Assistant is not eligible, nor is work completed with a faculty member as a co-author.
- The project must have a research component and a bibliography to qualify. Please submit the same assignment submitted to your instructor (not the graded version). The Instructor Support Form and Reflective Essay may be submitted separately by the deadline (see top of page for submission deadline).
You must have completed the research project between the Winter semesters of the previous and current calendar year. (Example: Between Winter 2020 and Winter 2021 semesters). Each project may only be submitted once, in one category.
- You must be currently enrolled as a credit student at Mount Royal University or have graduated in the Fall semester of the previous year.
- You must agree to allow Mount Royal University and the Library to use your picture, project and application materials to promote the awards and the Library.
Questions about eligibility can be sent via email to email@example.com
Adjudication committee composition:
An interdisciplinary committee comprised of five faculty members (including two Librarians) will select winners from each category.
(Mount Royal University acknowledges the assistance of Giovale Library at Westminster College in developing the award process and documents.)
Application & evaluation criteria
Projects will be adjudicated according to the following rubrics:
- For the 2021 awards, all materials must be submitted electronically.
- Projects completed during any of the following semesters are eligible: Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021.
- The awards deadline is May 14, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. All required components MUST be submitted by this time. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
- The adjudication committee reserves the right not to offer the awards in any given year. In the event that submissions fall short of the standards of research excellence outlined in the rubrics, no award will be given. The decision of the committee is final.
- Applications will be retained by the Mount Royal University Library and will generally not be returned.
Forms and guidelines
Your Research Project
A final version of your research project including a complete bibliography with citation style appropriate to your discipline must be included with your submission. Your project should demonstrate how you used information sources to support your work.
Eligible projects include:
- Honours theses
- Capstone projects
- Film projects
- Poster presentations
- Digital stories
- Web or technology-based projects
- Creative works that demonstrate research skills and the effective use of information resources
Your reflective essay provides a description and reflection upon your research process and the use of library tools and resources. It should describe the process and strategies you used to discover, evaluate, and integrate information in your work.
Your reflections should provide the committee with an insight into how your process and strategies developed, the challenges you faced, the choices you made, and what you learned about research and information along the way.
Please include a final copy of your essay with the application form. There is a section where you can upload and attach it during the submission process.
Online Application Form
Your application must provide:
- The title of your project
- A copy of the project (with bibliography)
- The category you are entering
- Reflective essay
- Name of the instructor who will complete the online support form
- Contact information so we can reach you
- An indication that you meet the eligibility requirement
It also serves as the permission form that allows Mount Royal University and the Library to use your scholarly project and application materials to promote the awards in subsequent years and include your picture in such promotion.
Online Instructor Support Form
The following online support Google Form requires the instructor to link the student's work to the course and assignment objectives. Please ask the instructor who taught the course your research project was completed for to complete the online Instructor Support Form
Responses will only be shared with the adjudication committee. This form must be submitted before May 14, 2021 at 11:59 pm.
Vanessa Boila, Senior Award - The Mere Presence of a Cell Phone and Academic Ability
Bachelor of Arts ― Psychology (Honours) graduate Vanessa Boila took home the Senior Award for her project that set out to answer if the presence of a cellphone in the classroom, or during a learning-related task, negatively impacted academic performance. Her research targets cellphone presence (i.e., when a cellphone is visible, but not actively in use) to determine its effect on the demonstration of pre-existing comprehension, spelling, and mathematics skills. Boila was inspired to follow up on this research topic after reading a claim on Psychology Today stating that cognitive capacity may be reduced when in the presence of a cellphone.
“I was very intrigued by this claim, especially because I previously worked as a full-time teacher, so I wanted to learn more about cellphone presence,” said Boila.
Sara Czerwonka and Amy Rintoul - Navigating Calgary by Bike
The Group Award was presented to fourth-year information design students Amy Rintoul and Sara Czerwonka. The duo collaborated on a project named Navigating Calgary by Bike. Specifically, they focused on how to reduce barriers that prevent Calgarians from embracing cycling as a form of sustainable transportation.
“The goal of our research was to focus-in on one of the United Nations Sustainability Goals and go in-depth to understand how that goal is or is not being achieved at a local level, as well as all of the stakeholders that are involved in progress toward that goal,” Czerwonka says.
Their findings were collected through the creation of an annotated bibliography and interviewing subject matter experts. The information obtained from these processes aided in unravelling the complexity of cycling in Calgary. Their research explains that mapping out the barriers that cyclists face was the first step in being able to identify leverage points in the system. Prior to the Library Awards submission, the duo presented their research to their cohort and community members at an information design year-end capstone event called Humanly.
2018 - 2019 Winners
Julia Phillips, Jaime Bellows, Group Award - "Perceived Accessibility in City of Calgary Recreation Facilities: A Comparison Between People With and Without Accessibility Needs"
Jaime and Julia are both Health and Physical Education students passionate about physical activity and creating a society where everyone has the opportunity to participate.The pair incorporated their interest and knowledge of disability, accessibility, and inclusion into their PHYL 5300 capstone project. They made the decision to focus on how people with and without accessibility needs perceive built environments once they realized there wasn’t research on this particular topic. Jaime and Julia contacted the City of Calgary who confirmed that they didn’t currently have this type of data and expressed interest in accessing their final results.
Tim Kenny, Senior Award - IndigiComms: Using Decolonization, Power Studies and Indigenous Methods to Inform Post-Modern Communications Practice & Scholarship
Tim is a Communications Studies student who came across publications on mainstream media representations of Indigenous issues, which started him down a path of pursuing many sources on this topic and led him to a capstone project for his COMM 44851 class. Course instructor Dr. Chaseten Remillard helped him incorporate critical commentary on things he has personally experienced. Tim has said that his hope is for future Indigenous academics to refer to his work as a type of wayfinding to help navigate similar situations. The committee was particularly struck by the diverse and carefully chosen academic and contemporary research sources, from multiple fields of scholarship, that supported Tim’s argument about the power of communications that can serve to enact meaningful and reconciliatory change in Canada.
Kalindra Walls, Junior Award - Structural and functional musculoskeletal implications of patients with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Kalindra dedicated herself to learning about hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome through extensive research processes. There were moments when she was overwhelmed and discouraged but instead of giving up, she took the initiative to meet with Librarian Cari Merkley who introduced her to specific tools and research strategies. Once she decided to focus on musculoskeletal implications, Kalindra was faced with 60-70 articles with content she didn’t understand. Enter her supervisor on this project and Health and Physical Education instructor Dr. Jared R. Fletcher who helped her to to develop a better understanding of the topic. The quality and relevance of primary sources Kalindra referenced, along with her remarkable journey to come to a better understanding of this connective tissue disorder is what impressed the committee.
2017 - 2018 Winners
Group Award winners (left to right) - Leah Mann, Scott Thrall, and Brittney Herrington
Brittney Herrington, Leah Mann, and Scott Thrall, Group Award - “The Effects of Changes in CO2 During a Superimposed Cold Pressor Test on Regional Brain Blood Flow Regulation”
This project emerged from a simple discussion between the three students and mutual interest of applied human physiology. Following their own preliminary research, these classmates set out to learn how perturbations in blood pressure and CO2 in the body can affect brain blood flow. Once their research direction was set with a hypothesis, critical analysis and regular consultation with their supervisor and other researchers, they could integrate their findings into a cohesive summary.They have said this experience gave them a taste of what it’s like to do “real science” and taught them the intricate steps involved with leading, crafting, researching, and presenting a research project.
Shaelynn Zouboules, Senior Award - “Acid-Base Compensation During Incremental Ascent to High Altitude”
Shaelynn visited the Mount Everest base camp in Nepal as part of a research expedition to explore the physiological effects of high altitude ascent on lowlanders. Upon her return, she realized there were few publications that investigated the renal response during a real-world trekking scenario, which led her to ask: how do the important renal responses to acid-base disruptions change during incremental ascent to high altitude?
Through excellent search techniques and the use of our interlibrary loan system, Shaelynn was able to connect with information to help her investigate her research questions. Throughout the research process she also learned the importance of identifying specific elements in a source to determine its strength.
Jewell Gapasin, Junior Award - “Archelon ischyros: The King Turtle from the Cretaceous Period”
When confronted with choosing a topic of interest for a paleontology research paper, Jewell took a week to ponder options then settled on an extinct animal.
Archelon—the extinct and massive sea turtle—became the subject of the paper, which focused on the reptile’s environment, adaptability, cause of extinction, and closest living relative.
With the guidance of her professor (Robin Cuthbertson) and a session with Environmental Sciences Librarian, Brian Jackson, Jewell was able to find journal articles and other supporting information, and deploy that information in support of her topic. The feat was not without challenges, but the process ultimately taught Jewell that there is no singular path to approach and disseminate research.
2016 - 2017 Winners
Tim Kruchkowski, Kevin Hayes, and Katie Foster, Group Award - "Pollution prevention: toward zero emissions"
This project involved testing samples from snowmelt piles for phosphates, nitrates, acidity levels and other contaminants with results indicating far higher levels than existing safe water standards. The solution presented by these students involves eco-friendly de-icers, improved salt management as well as the development of a constructed wetland at Mount Royal University. To help validate this research, experts and technical reports were consulted and the references include over 20 different scholarly articles and books.
This project makes use of green technology to solve an environmental problem as well as incorporating Aboriginal cultural values through an active engagement strategy. In April, the students made a presentation of this project to members of the Ashoka Changemakers. Congratulations!
Anja Meier, Senior Winner - "Does a Recession Affect Millennials' Career Expectations"
Anja set out to study the how recessions can affect the career expectations of millennials. To answer this question, Anja examined a range of resources for her literature review, including those from psychology and business scholarly journals and statistical data. Her study comprised two parts - an analysis of qualitative data from focus groups she facilitated and quantitative data from a survey she sent to students. The committee was impressed not only by Anja's thorough analysis but also by the quality of her writing and reflection on the research process. This project is an exemplary example of interdisciplinary research. Congratulations Anja!
Kenny's project unveils a lesser-known aspect of Canadian history. Using a combination of scholarly publications, archival records, and primary sources, Kenny eloquently described the perspectives of South Asian immigrants who faced and resisted intense discrimination in Canada's West. He also demonstrated great reflection and discussed the challenges he encountered during the research process. This work is a superb example of academic rigor and going above and beyond the assignment requirements. The committee was impressed not only by the polish of this work but also by how it inspires. It reminds us that there are so many aspects of Canadian history that require attention and recognition. Congratulations Kenny!
2015 - 2016 Winners
Steven Lilley, Senior Award - "'The Robot as an Entertainer': Historical Consciousness and the Mechanical Music Controversy in America, [...]"
Steven Lilley started with a subject that interested him (music), and then followed the path on which his research took him.
"I used a bit of everything," he said. "I had to switch my topic a few times, but in the end it was just persistence.
"That's the big thing that I like about research. If you explore, you might find a trend."
Lilley said he came across the subject matter of Americans' reception of new music recording technologies in the early 20th century (1906 to 1929), such as phonographs, player pianos, and the radio, while browsing through Mount Royal Library resources. He used the perspectives of "cultural commentators" such as journalists and music critics, and employed more scholarly sources such as ProQuest, American periodical and historical newspaper databases, and scholarly collections like JSTOR and EBSCO, to help develop his argument.
"When it comes to writing a research paper, it may seem like something is a setback, but in the end it can be an opportunity."
Stephanie Weber, Junior Award - "Culinary Imperialism: Chinese Food in New York, 1870-1943."
Stephanie Weber, who just completed her third year of studies as a History major, won the Junior Award for her paper, "Culinary Imperialism: Chinese Food in New York, 1870-1943." Her topic was inspired by a course she took on the history of food in America, which concentrated on agriculture, and she wanted to delve more into food and its relation to immigration and race.
"My paper is about the ways in which immigrant men and women were able to affirm their identities through food, but also, at the same time, the ways that those foods were adapted and changed by white Americans, and made into something that wasn't what they were originally," she said.
Weber used a recipe database discovered at the Library, as well as archives of the New York Times and the fiction book Main Street by Sinclair Lewis, to build out her paper.
"I actually ended up with way too much information and had to cut it down a lot. And I even wanted to keep going," she said.
2014 - 2015 Winners
Kyle Kinaschuk, Senior Award
Kyle Kinaschuk's English Honours thesis immediately stood out among this year's submissions.
"It's a beautiful thing to read," says Barrette. "It's sophisticated and complex. There are professors in Canadian institutions who do not write like this."
Kinaschuk's thesis grew out of a question posed during his presentation at the 2014 Derrida Today Conference in New York City.
"My thesis examines the questions, 'how can we recognize, create and welcome new ideas?'" says Kinaschuk. "Do politics emerge from a commitment to thinking about the unexpected? What is the relationship between desire, finitude and loss? Does the past, too, yield events?"
To answer these questions, Kinaschuk embarked on an investigation that was epic in scale.
"There was an incredible amount of information to synthesize and analyze," says Associate Professor Kit Dobson, PhD, Kinaschuk's thesis supervisor. "There was a potential infinite breadth to his work."
Undaunted, Kinaschuk searched through multiple databases and tracked the bibliographies of prior theses, dissertations, manuscripts and articles. The result is a paper that catapulted him to the attention of graduate schools across the country and helped launch the next stage in his academic career.
"(Kinaschuk's) achievement speaks not only to his ability, but also to opportunities Mount Royal creates for students," says Barrette. "He's had the opportunity to be supported and encouraged, and he's used these opportunities to excel."
Kinaschuk has received a number of scholarships and awards during his program; however, the Library Award holds a special significance.
"I am extremely pleased and honoured to have received the MRU Library Award for Excellence in Scholarly Endeavours," says Kinaschuk. "As this Award recognizes the capstone project of my degree, it is truly remarkable to receive such generous support and recognition during the final moments of my study at Mount Royal."
Graduating spring 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Philosophy, Kinaschuk looks forward to continuing his research at the University of Toronto.
Chandra Martini, Junior Award
The daughter of a historian and descendent of Western Canada's black pioneer community, Chandra Martini grew up listening to legends about Alberta's Amber Valley. When she stumbled across a brief mention of a black midwife who had served this region, she decided to pursue the topic for a history paper in her midwifery class.
"I was thrilled by the possibility that my own people helped to build the tradition of midwifery in Canada," says Martini, who is in the first year of her Bachelor of Midwifery at Mount Royal and holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science from McGill University as well as a Master of Arts from the University of British Colombia.
Scouring Mount Royal's resources, she quickly realized there was little written about the tradition of black Canadian midwives. Undeterred, Martini turned to an expert for help - her mother.
"When I asked her whether she had ever heard or read anything about a midwife in Amber Valley, my mother went into the basement and emerged with a stack of books, collections of memoirs, family reunion documents, and other oddments," writes Martini in her reflection essay.
"We … started to uncover a story that, if it weren't for her work and my circumstantial interest, might otherwise have been forgotten."
"Chandra was able to use exceptional depth in finding obscure resources for her paper," says Assistant Professor Deborah Duran-Snell, Martini's supporting instructor. "I was amazed at the selection of resources and references used including books, articles, unpublished manuscripts and interviews."
Through her mother's archives, Martini discovered a connection between the black midwives in Canada's pioneer communities and the practices of enslaved "granny midwives" of the American South.
"These women were important, not just for bringing babies into the world, but for their place as community healers," says Martini. "I felt like I was connecting with my family history and this tradition that goes far back.
I think this work shows the importance of acknowledging the diversity of midwifery and its history."
Martini looks forward to pursuing this topic for her capstone project. She hopes to conduct interviews with the black pioneer descendant community in Alberta and so ensure that the stories of these women and this community are recorded and shared.
2013 - 2014 Winner
Sabina Trimble, who graduates this year and has already been accepted to the University of Victoria for a Master's of Arts Degree in History (with funding by way of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Canada Graduate Scholarship), entered her honours thesis for the award, and the judging committee of three faculty external to the library and two MRU librarians chose Trimble's paper to beat out 21 other impressive applicants and win the $1,000 prize.
Upon presentation of the award on May 27, 2014, Carol Shepstone, University Librarian of MRU Library, said, "This thesis came out of a field school experience and grew into a much larger journey involving archival and oral history research. It is outstanding for its depth and scale, impressive information literacy and scholarly excellence."
"The committee was particularly touched by the depth of her self-reflection on the process of undertaking this project and the journey that followed," said Katharine Barrette, Associate Professor and Librarian, chair of the award committee.
"She spoke of her connections with the people she met and spoke to, and talked about the importance of humility in working with story-tellers and members of the community," Barrette said. Entitled Storying Swílcha: Place-Making and Power at a Stó:lô Landmark, Trimble says that the field school project was to collect of histories (both modern and passed on) for the purpose of community, land claims and education, and that the human context of ethnohistory is what makes it so fascinating to her as a scholar and so important to the greater community for building understanding.
"One of the themes that came out of my research in my thesis, which was about both aboriginal and non-aboriginal stories, is that everybody tells stories about places, and those stories are foundational and formational for everybody," says Trimble.
"Those stories define who we are collectively, socially and individually regardless of our cultural or ethnic backgrounds," she says.
Haggarty says that, "Stories are the primary mechanism through which both settler and Indigenous populations make connections to and claim places." The in-depth analysis of these stories is, "helps us understand not only what has happened in history but also how history is made."
If I am graduating this spring, can I still enter and win?
Can I submit a group project?
Yes. You can submit a group project to either the Emerging Scholar or Senior Group Award categories.
If I complete my coursework in December, am I still eligible for the award?
Can I submit my project to be considered for both categories?
If I am a 4th-year student, can I submit a project I completed for a 2000-level course?
Yes. The category is intended to reflect the scope, depth and work involved in creating the research project. If it was completed a 2000-level course, it is best entered as a Junior-level project.
If I have collaborated with a faculty member, as a co-author or co-researcher, can I submit this work?
No. The award is intended for research projects undertaken and completed by undergraduate students only.
I submitted my project last year but did not win the award. Can I re-submit this project in this year’s competition?
No. A student may not re-submit a project submitted in a past competition.
Can I submit a project in the individual category and the group category?
Yes. Students may submit a project in both the group and individual categories in the same year.
Can I submit two projects from two different courses for the same award?
No. Multiple submissions by the same student in the same category are not permitted.