Undergraduate Competition Details

Submit an entry

Important Dates

Competition opens: Monday, February 13, 2023

Deadline to enter: Friday, April 7, 2023 at 12midnight CST

Announcement of award winners via email: Friday, April 14, 2023


  • First prize: $300
  • Second prize: $200
  • People’s Choice Award: $100

Awards to undergraduate students will be dispersed through the student’s university account. If you are an international student, please note that your award may be subject to tax withholding. The Library’s Business Office will help to walk you through the process.


Attend this workshop to learn more about the competition and get tips and tricks for visualizing your research. We will spend the second half of the hour on “workshopping” so please bring your ideas and draft images. Take a look at past submissions.

Tuesday, 3.7.23 from 4-5pm: Registration

Tuesday, 3.9.23 from 12pm-1pm: Registration

For questions, please contact Merinda Kaye Hensley, Research Programs Liaison and Instruction Librarian at mhensle1@illinois.edu

Competition Requirements

Who can submit?

  1. Entries must be submitted by undergraduate students who are registered during the Spring 2023 term and are in good academic standing at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
  2. Each person may only submit one entry.
  3. Individual entries only please (no groups).
  4. Each submission must include a faculty sponsor/mentor and students are responsible for submitting their own work.

What should the image be?

The image can represent your work either concretely or abstractly. Perhaps it is an image of your research itself, an activity related to your research, or the impact of your research. We define “research” broadly to include the breadth of creative and scholarly work in all fields. For size and format requirements, see below.

The purpose of the brief narrative is to articulate an aspect of your research that is important to you. This is a great opportunity to talk about your work creatively, offer a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes, share the experience of conducting the research, or express how it has impacted you or others. The text should not be merely a description of the image. It is not meant to be a caption.

It may help to check out past award winners as well as winners from the graduate version of the competition or attend one of our workshops.

The submission will be judged on three criteria:

  • Connection between image, text, and research
  • Originality
  • Visual Impact

The entrant must be principal creator of the image. Third party content can be used (for example, mixed with other content), but submitting a third party image unaltered is not permitted. Entrants are responsible for ensuring that any use of images or materials that are under copyright by a third party either falls under fair use or that relevant permissions have been sought, that no copyright has been infringed, and that any necessary release forms have been signed. If you have questions about copyright, please reach out to us at ugresearch@library.illinois.edu.

What is required for submission?

  • A title up to 250 characters.
  • A 150–200 word narrative that articulates the connection between the image and your research. The audience for your narrative is students and faculty that are not within your discipline so try to avoid using jargon from your field of study, if possible. Please proofread your narrative before submitting.
  • Images should be the best quality image that you can provide. Please make sure your image file meets the following requirements:
    • Maximum file size of 50 MB. The submission form will only take 15MB so if your image is too large to submit in this form, or if you have any questions, please email ugresearch@library.illinois.edu.
    • Please name your file “last name_firstname”
    • Minimum resolution of 300 ppi.
    • Image must be at least 10 inches on the longest end.
    • Image must be in TIFF, JPEG, or JPEG2 format.
    • If your file fails to meet these criteria, we will ask that the necessary changes be made before accepting and processing your submission.
    • Refer to the Tips on Resizing Your Image for more information.
  • You must agree to the following license agreement that allows the University to display and provide access to your image:
    • I grant the University of Illinois non-exclusive and royalty-free permission to use my image and accompanying text in their original forms and/or modified forms for the purpose of promoting the competition and the research taking place at Illinois, and I have the necessary rights, permissions, and/or licenses to grant Illinois these rights. I understand that this means that such materials, in their original forms and/or modified forms, may be incorporated in any and all media. If I wish to revoke permissions to use my image, I must do so in writing to the University Library. In addition, I agree to the license agreement for IDEALS so that my image can be displayed within IDEALS or other online medium. If you are the copyright owner, by accepting this license, you still retain copyright to your work and do not give up the right to submit the work to publishers or other repositories. The University will clearly identify your name(s) as the author(s) or copyright owner(s) of the submission as well as the name(s) of the copyright owner(s) if different from your name(s), include a statement of your copyright, and will not make any alteration, other than as allowed by this license, to your submission. By accepting this license, you acknowledge that you have read and agreed to the terms of this agreement and all related IDEALS and University policies.

Where will your submission be shared?

  1. All submissions will be printed on poster board and presented at the Undergraduate Research Symposium on Thursday, April 27, 2023 in the Illini Union Ballroom from 9-3:30pm.
    1. Your entry will be automatically entered into the People’s Choice Award at the symposium.
    2. Your entry will be yours to keep which may be picked up after the symposium.
  2. A selection of submissions will be printed and shared in the Library’s Orange Room.
  3. All submissions will be featured on the Library’s digital signage, the Library’s Instagram account, and the social media accounts for the Office of Undergraduate Research.
  4. Submissions will be archived in the Library’s Image of Research IDEALS community and on the Library’s social media accounts.

2023 Judges

  • Sarah Blanco, Library Specialist, Teaching, Learning, and Academic Support
  • Libby Cave, Graduate Student, iSchool
  • Lonnie Clark Jr., Library Specialist, Teaching, Learning, and Academic Support
  • Merinda Kaye Hensley, Research Programs Liaison and Instruction Librarian
  • Eric Kurt, Media Commons Coordinator
  • Elizabeth Rockman, Associate Director, Campus Honors Program
  • Karen Rodriguez’G, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research