The Writing Center encourages students to submit in the 2020 General Election Informed Citizens Writing Contest.

Hayley Simonson, Police Reporter

Students may not think there’s any benefit to voluntarily writing another research paper, but Linda Howell, Director and Senior Instructor for the UNF Writing Program and Center, encourages students to try and think differently. The writing center is hoping students will consider how this contest could benefit them in the long-run.  

“We’re excited to see the entries and to see how this unfolds,” Howell said.

The inspiration behind launching the contest started with the quality enhancement plan, which is part of an accreditation process for The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Every few years, a college must come up with a quality enhancement project that focuses on some form of student success.

UNF chose to utilize the writing curriculum as part of their project, and the writing center, at the university, is at the heart of that mission. 

Howell said that they chose to do a writing contest to spark a conversation with students about the importance of writing, and the use of evidence through citation and sourcing. These combined factors created the perfect opportunity for the UNF Writing Center to partner with the Office of Undergraduate Research. 

“We have been wanting to do that for some time,” Howell said.

 When choosing the research paper topic for the contest, Howell said it was debated how they could best engage students about the importance of using evidence in writing. Due to the timing of when the contest was set to be scheduled, it was decided that the 2020 election would be a great way to engage students.  

“We really wanted to forefront the idea of informed voting as part of the writing contest,” Howell said. “This is what we do at the university – we engage in the processing of inquiry and researching to source material. We wanted to kind of marry the two topics in a way that would encourage students to enter the contest. I think students are more informed than they have ever been before and this is a chance to really showcase that quality.”

Among cash prizes, students have a chance to be featured in PANDION, which is the Osprey Journal of Research and Ideas. It is sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research. 

Getting the chance to be published in PANDION is a great opportunity to showcase work to a wider audience. It is also good practice for future opportunities students may receive to have their research published on an even larger scale, according to Howell.

“Also, your parents will love it! It’s a point of pride,” Howell said.  

Howell thinks that students should be encouraged to do undergraduate research. Any way that the writing center can help facilitate that, is a bonus in her mind. 

The Writing Center plans on doing more contests in the next couple of years to engage students. Their hope is that this year’s contest will be successful and facilitate more contact between students and writing. 

They hope to really get students involved in talking about certain topics, while thinking about them as they would through a writing process. This will help students cater their ideas to multiple audiences, both academic and non-academic. 


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].