Undergraduate Research & the Academic Librarian: Case Studies and Best Practices, Volume 2

ACRL announces the publication of Undergraduate Research & the Academic Librarian: Case Studies and Best Practices, Volume 2, edited by Merinda Kaye Hensley, Hailley Fargo, and Stephanie Davis-Kahl. This all-new volume contains lesson plans, activities, and strategies for connecting with students, faculty, and undergraduate research coordinators in support of undergraduate engagement and success.

Learn more about Undergraduate Research & the Academic Librarian, Volume 2, in this Introduction from the editors, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Editing our second volume has been a remarkable process. On the one hand, we had a big picture, a sweeping view of undergraduate research (UGR), with voices from across the country from different types of institutions and perspectives. On the other hand, we saw the details, the front-line work in the classroom, at the reference desk, and for the past year or two, via Zoom or Google Meet. Each chapter provides a unique view of the whole story, and the whole provides a snapshot in time of the state of undergraduate research, higher education, and the world.

The chapters contained in our second volume were shaped by a sometimes overwhelming array of changes we have seen in the world since the initial publication of our 2017 volume: the 2016 election, COVID-19, racial unrest and the ensuing urgent calls for reform across all aspects of American life, including libraries, the focus on how the institutions of higher education and academic libraries fail our students from minoritized and marginalized communities, the dangerous reliance on misinformation, and active campaigns of misinformation and revisionist history perpetuated across social media.

Since the 2017 publication of our first volume, Undergraduate Research & the Academic Librarian: Case Studies and Best Practices, undergraduate research (UGR) itself has evolved and, in the case of its definition, changed:

Undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry is fundamentally a pedagogical approach to teaching and learning. With an emphasis on process, CUR defines undergraduate research as: A mentored investigation or creative inquiry conducted by undergraduates that seeks to make a scholarly or artistic contribution to knowledge.1

Reflective in the new definition is an emphasis not only on the broader scope of projects included under the umbrella of UGR but moreover that UGR is a specific pedagogical practice with an impact on teaching and learning. It is worth noting as well that the revised definition frames a student’s contribution to “knowledge,” instead of a specific discipline, and that the contribution is scholarly or artistic but not necessarily original as specified in the previous definition. Here, too, we see an expansion that reflects attention to inclusion writ large: Jeanne Mekolichick (Radford University), CUR president and chair of the task force, “The updated definition seeks to reflect the inspiring expansion in undergraduate research that encompasses various types of projects, mentors and mentees in diverse fields, institution types and settings, and mentors and students from a range of academic and personal backgrounds. Undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry enriches undergraduate education and helps students achieve their academic and career goals through the critical skills they gain and sharpen through these experiences.”2 So, too, is the door open now for course-based undergraduate research to become an integral part of UGR and, as a result, part of key high-impact educational practices that are now seen as crucial to undergraduate education and engagement.

Though our chapters were written and submitted before the revised definition, the reader will notice an expanded view of undergraduate research from our authors as well. Diversity, equity, and inclusion in authors’ work with students and faculty are present and growing. Librarians adjusted in creative and empathetic ways to support undergraduate researchers throughout the pandemic and the ensuing upheaval of plans and goals. Through the chapters in our second volume, it is clear that throughout the turmoil of the past few years, UGR persisted, even with the stress of disconnection and disintermediation of remote learning, teaching, and mentoring. Collaborations between faculty, librarians, and students were a steadying force throughout, and readers will also see the theme of community and an awareness of students’ non-academic challenges running through our second volume, bringing with it the recognition of the library’s contribution to students’ overall sense of belonging within their institutions.

The second volume is organized by broad topics. We begin with First-Year Undergraduate Research Models, with contributions from Anna Sandelli, Ingrid J. Ruffin (now at University of Nevada Las Vegas), and Sarah Johnson from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville discussing their work with undergraduate researchers in a live/learn community; they are followed by Joy Oehlers, Erica Dias, and Sheryl Shook from Kapi‘olani Community College in Hawai‘i, who provide a view into how community colleges provide a vital foundation for undergraduates to move into research; and finally, Kat Nelsen, Caitlin Bakker, Jody Kempf, Meghan Lafferty, Allison Langham-Pultrow, and Kate Peterson from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities discuss their work with building capacity for undergraduate research with students.

Our next section, Cohort-based Models, leads off with Akua Agyen, Jason Araújo, Matthew Weirick Johnson, Simon Lee, Ashley Newby, Renee Romero, and Laurel Westrup from UCLA discussing vital work with BIPOC students, LGBTQIA students, and students with disabilities. Amy Harris Houk, Ariana Watkins, and McKayla Bohannon from University of North Carolina-Greensboro discuss the library’s partnership with the McNair Scholars Program, and Tatiana Pashkova-Balkenhol, Marilyn Parrish, and Melissa Gold from Millersville University discuss shifting the focus of their community of practice with undergraduate researchers.

The team from St. John Fisher College, Michelle Price and Kristin Picardo, lead off the Tutorials, Learning Objects, Services, and Institutional Repositories section with their chapter on asynchronous modules supporting summer research students, followed by chapters from Illinois Wesleyan University’s Meg Miner on her work to chronicle honors research projects in DigitalCommons@IWU and Annelise Sklar’s chapter on data and GIS services for undergraduate researchers at University of California, San Diego. Amanda Hornby, Jessica E. Salvador, Emilie Vrbancic, and Linda Whang conclude this section with their chapter on developing a successful online tutorial at the University of Washington.

Next are chapters devoted to Course-Based Undergraduate Research Collaborations, an area of growth in undergraduate institutions. Hunter College-CUNY’s Jennifer Newman and María Hernández-Ojeda write about using the university’s archives to explore the development of the Spanish program, while Bethany Mickel and Meridith Wolnick discuss their collaboration with a Wikimedian-in-residence at the University of Virginia. Metaliteracy through the study of history at Rollins College is the focus of Rachel Walton and Claire Strom’s chapter, followed by an exploration into the impact of infographics in an environmental studies course at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa by Jonathan Young and Michael Guidry. Miami Dade Community College’s team of Isabel Duque, Emily Sendin, and Nicholas Brejcha share their story of creating an escape room as an undergraduate research project with social justice at its core, and Murray State University’s directed research program is the focus of the last chapter in this section by Katherine Farmer.

The final section, Building and Sustaining Programs, is a fitting conclusion to our second volume. Penn State University’s team, Hailley Fargo (now at Northern Kentucky University), Jennifer Jarson, Emily Mross, Christina Riehman-Murphy, and Rebecca Waltz discuss their work to support undergraduate researchers across a large university system, while the authors at Ohio State University, Craig Gibson, Jennifer Schnabel, and Katherine Watson, discuss their successful fellowship program. Larissa Garcia, Dee Anna Phares, and Kimberly Shotick from Northern Illinois University contribute a chapter on their work to increase engagement between the library and undergraduate researchers in partnership with colleagues from NIU’s Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning.

We are also thrilled to have returning authors from our first volume to provide an update on their work with students. We are happy to welcome back R. C. Miesseler of Gettysburg College and new co-authors Clinton Baugess, Carrie Pirmann, Courtney Paddick, and Kevin Moore from Bucknell University with their chapter on institutional collaboration in the digital humanities in the Cohort-Based Model section. In the Tutorials section, Camille Crampsie and new co-authors Theresa Burress, Timothy Henkel, and Emily Norton from the University of South Florida contribute a follow-up to their chapter in volume 1, providing a look into how they supported students’ development of research posters. And finally, we have a chapter in the Building and Sustaining section from new authors Amanda MacDonald, Anne M. Brown, and Marc Zaldivar at Virginia Tech with their chapter on digital credentialing to accompany Virginia Tech’s chapter from our first volume.

Finally, we welcome Associate Vice Provost Janice DeCosmo, immediate past president of the Council for Undergraduate Research, associate vice provost for undergraduate research, and associate dean of undergraduate academic affairs at the University of Washington, and thank her for contributing to our community of librarians, faculty, and students who are passionate and engaged in undergraduate research.

From our perspectives at a small liberal arts college, a medium state-supported institution, and a large research university, we have seen shifts and changes on our campuses in how undergraduate research is funded and supported by faculty and administration. When we were editing our first volume, we don’t remember having the same awareness as we do now of the challenges we collectively face. Our team started working on our proposal for ACRL in May of 2020 when working from home was beginning to feel not exactly normal but not as jarring as it did in March of 2020. Looking back, our work provided a sense of purpose and calm, and reviewing our authors’ chapters gave us hope and energy for the future.

We hope our second volume provides you with ideas for connecting with students, faculty, and undergraduate research coordinators in support of undergraduate engagement and success.


  1. “Council on Undergraduate Research Issues Updated Definition of Undergraduate Research,” Council for Undergraduate Research, 2021, https://www.cur.org/council_on_undergraduate_research_issues_updated_definition_of_undergraduate_research/.
  2. “Council for Undergraduate Research Issues,” Council for Undergraduate Research.