Library Research Awards

University Library research awards are available to current graduate and undergraduate students of American University. Our current research awards include:

The W. Donald Bowles Award

The W. Donald Bowles Award recognizes students for conducting outstanding research or pursuing a course of study addressing productivity, income, or poverty in the United States through empirical, theoretical, or artistic efforts. The $1,000 award will be given annually in November, following evaluation by a committee comprised of teaching faculty and librarians from AU. A $500 runner-up award will also be given.

Application Requirements
  • Applicant must be a current American University undergraduate or graduate (including PhD) student in good standing.
  • Student information form including description of research or planned course of study (up to 500 words or less). Previously published work is not required.
  • Resum√© (two pages or less)
  • Faculty Member recommendation (a brief email from the faculty member is satisfactory to the contact information listed below)

Applications for this year's award will be accepted through November 14th, 2016. There are no restrictions on the Awardee's use of the funds. Students who have received a Bowles Award in the past are not eligible to re-apply. Submit a completed application form to

Research Paper Awards

Papers written during spring and fall, 2016 and spring, 2017 semesters will be accepted for consideration. Students may submit more than one paper, but only one award will be granted per individual. If you have questions about the award, the nomination or application process, please contact

Application Procedure:

Applications may be received beginning Feb 1, 2017. To apply, students must submit the following to no later than March 17, 2017.

  1. Completed application cover sheet with student name, title of project, title of course, name of professor, date of submission to competition.
  2. Letter of recommendation from the faculty member who taught the course for which the paper or project was prepared. (Refer faculty to the list of evaluation criteria)
  3. A brief 500 to 700 word reflective essay describing research strategies, application of library tools and resources in completion of the project.
  4. A bibliography or other listing of sources consulted, if not already included in the paper.
  5. A final version of the project. Written papers should be double spaced and may be of any length. Digital projects should be submitted on a DVD or CD. For other formats, contact
  6. All documents must be submitted in MSWord or equivalent (no pdfs please).
Evaluation Criteria:
  • Substantial use of library resources and collections in any format, including but not limited to printed resources, databases, primary resources, and materials in all media;
  • Ability to locate, select, evaluate, and synthesize library resources and to use them in the creation of a project that shows originality and/or has the potential to lead to original research in the future;
  • Evidence of significant personal learning and the development of a habit of research and inquiry that shows the likelihood of persisting in the future; and
  • Originality of thought, mastery of content appropriate to class level, clear writing and a high quality of presentation.