Undergraduate Competition Details

Important Dates

Competition opens: Thursday, January 28, 2021

Deadline to enter: Friday, March 19, 2021

Submission Form: Submit an entry

Announcement of the awardees will occur via email by the end of the day Friday, April 2, 2021.

Entries will be celebrated at the 2021 Virtual Undergraduate Research Symposium.


Who can submit?

Entries must be submitted by undergraduate students who are registered during the Spring 2021 term and are in good academic standing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Each person may only submit one entry. Individual entries only please (no groups). Each submission must include a faculty sponsor/mentor and students are responsible for submitting their own work.

What should the image be?

“Research” is defined broadly to include creative and scholarly work in all fields. The image submitted 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. For size and format requirements, see below.

In addition to the image, you will submit a short narrative (between 100-200 words) that articulates the connection between the image and your research. The text should not be merely a description of the image, rather it should communicate an aspect of your research that is important to you and why or how it has impacted you or others. This is a great opportunity to talk about your work creatively, communicate the impact, offer a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes, or share the experience of conducting the research.

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.

What is required for submission?

  • A title of less than 250 characters
  • A 100-200 word narrative that articulates the connection between the image and your research. 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 the Scholarly Commons at sc@library.illinois.edu 
    • 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.


  • First prize: $300
  • Second prize: $200
  • Additionally, there may be up to two (2) honorable mentions.

Awards will be shared and presented at the Undergraduate Research Symposium including in the formal program.

Submissions will be featured on the Library’s Instagram account and the social media accounts for the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Submissions will be archived in the Library’s Image of Research IDEALS community.

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.