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The Janet Bell Pacific Research Prize

2009 Contest Announcement:

November 16, 2009: The Pacific collection regrets to announce that this year's Janet Bell Pacific Research Prize contest has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and we hope to reinstate the contest  in 2010.


     About the Prize

     Administered through the cooperation of the University of Hawai'i Foundation and the University of Hawai'i Library, the annual Janet Bell Pacific Research Prize recognizes the best graduate and undergraduate papers based on research in the Pacific Islands area (Hawai'i, Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia, including Aotearoa/New Zealand). The winning graduate and undergraduate scholars are each awarded $100, and their papers are added to the holdings of either the Hawaiian or Pacific Collection, depending on their region of focus.

     The award was established in 1963, when it was then known as the Library Prize for Pacific (Islands Area) Research. In 1988, the prize was renamed in honor of Janet Bell, who in 1935 became the first full-time librarian for the university's Hawaiian Collection and would continue to serve in that capacity until her retirement in December 1970. Prior to the Pacific Collection's establishment as a separate entity in 1968, Ms. Bell also served as librarian and curator of Pacific materials, laying the groundwork for what has become the world's pre-eminent collection on the cultural regions of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. It was Ms. Bell who initially established the Research Prize, and who oversaw its judging until the time of her retirement. Past winners have included many students who went on to become well-known Hawai'i and Pacific scholars, including Esther T. Mookini (graduate award, 1967); Larry Lindsay Kimura (undergraduate award, 1969); Terence Wesley-Smith (graduate award, 1982); Richard Hamasaki (graduate award, 1986); and David A. Chappell (graduate award, 1988 and 1989).

A complete list of winners is available online here.

     The Prize is currently overseen by the Pacific Collection curator and, while it is offered annually, is only awarded to graduate and undergraduate papers that are deemed worthy of the honor. The judges also reserve the right to award more than one prize in each division, in which case the prize money will be divided at the administrators' discretion. The research prize contest is usually held at the end of Spring or Fall semester. Publicity announcements are made in UH-Manoa's Ka Leo O Hawai'i campus newspaper, the Center for Pacific Islands Studies newsletter, and through faculty contacts.


How To Enter

  1. Eligibility. Any student currently enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) may submit papers. Former contestants, including winners, are eligible if they are still registered at UHM.

  2. Entry limitations. Any paper based upon the student's research on a topic concerned with the Pacific area may be submitted, with the exception of graduate theses and dissertations in synopsis or completed form, or materials already published. Papers derived from the use of materials in the University of Hawaii Library's Hawaiian and Pacific Collections are especially encouraged. Papers deriving from original laboratory or fieldwork, irrespective of discipline, are equally encouraged.

  3. Entry procedures. Each paper must have:

    1. a title page with title only
      (no name of author, please)

    2. a separate page showing:
      Author's full name
      Title of paper
      Social security number
      Address and telephone number (current)
      Alternate address (if different from current)
      College and program in which enrolled
      Graduate or undergraduate status

  4. Papers must be submitted in person to the Hawaiian and Pacific Collections, University of Hawaii Library, 2550 The Mall on or before the announced deadline, by 4:00 p.m. (No mail or e-mail submissions, please.) Once a paper has been submitted, no editing is permitted.

  5. Judging. The judges will be anonymous to the contestants. Papers will be evaluated according to the excellence of their writing and the quality of the research they represent. More than one prize may be awarded in either the graduate or undergraduate division. If none of the entries meets the required standards, the prize(s) will not be awarded.

  6. Winning entries will be catalogued and made a part of the Library's collections. All other entries become the property of the Library and will not be returned; entered papers may be added to Library's holdings at the discretion of the Curator. Responsibility for copyright remains with the authors, who retain the right to submit their papers elsewhere for publication.


  7. Compiled by
    Lynette Furuhashi and Stuart Dawrs
    Pacific Specialists
    Hamilton Library
    University of Hawai'i at Manoa

    July 2006
    Updated August 18, 2009