York University’s second annual multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Fair, co-sponsored by York University Libraries and the Office of the Vice-President Research, took place in York’s main library Collaboratory on February 25, 2014. Intended to showcase undergraduate research in a friendly, cross-curricular environment, the juried fair included 56 poster presentations prepared by students from all faculties on two campuses. Enthusiastic students presented their projects to an audience of more than 550 people from the broader York community, including their peers, faculty members, librarians, family and administrators.
Approximately $5,700 in award monies were distributed for seven awards, including the library-sponsored Information Literacy Award. Student award winners were celebrated, along with distinguished faculty researchers, at the University’s Research Leaders gala.
This annual library event provides undergraduates with an experiential education opportunity and engages them in several aspects of the cycle of academic literacies. Students apply to participate by writing an abstract and submitting a graded, research-based project or honours thesis completed within the calendar year. Those accepted attend a presentation skills workshop to assist them in designing and animating a poster.
After the fair, student presenters are invited to revise their papers into an article to submit for consideration to a new peer-reviewed e-journal sponsored by the York libraries and associated with the fair; the first issue of the York University Undergraduate Research Review will be launched in 2014. Like the fair, the e-journal is a multidisciplinary, collaborative effort by librarians, faculty and students.
When asked what motivated them to participate in the fair, student presenters credited librarians and faculty for encouraging them and explained that they were interested in gaining experience presenting, sharing their work with others, building their résumés, enhancing an application to graduate school and taking advantage of a potential opportunity for publication.
Librarians attribute the success of the fair to its multidisciplinary orientation and collaborative organizing committee composed of librarians, faculty and students as well as broad financial support from many campus units.
Peggy Warren and Dana Craig are Undergraduate Research Fair co-chairs at York University.