COVID-19 has created societal challenges for communities around the world. More than ever before, collaboration and knowledge-sharing have become key to accelerating the research response to the pandemic’s widespread impacts. We invite students from higher education institutions around the world to leverage the resources available from the COVID Information Commons (CIC) to participate in the CIC Student Paper Challenge and join the scientific research community addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. The CIC Student Paper Challenge is open to undergraduate and graduate students at public and private universities, colleges, and community colleges. Recent graduates (within the last 12 months) are also welcome to participate!
We also invite STEM and healthcare researchers, professors, or professionals to participate in this challenge as Mentors and Judges.
Students with winning papers may see their work published on the CIC website and their papers may be added to the Columbia Academic Commons. These papers may also be considered for presentation during a future COVID-19 Research Lightning Talks webinar, a National Student Data Corps (NSDC) Data Science panel, or the COVID Information Commons Annual Community Workshop. These events convene researchers and leaders from academia, government, industry, and non-profit organizations from around the world to address the societal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students and Mentors & Judges Call for Participation Opens: July 11th, 2022
Fill out the Student Call for Participation form to receive updates about the Challenge, including times for mentoring sessions.
Student Paper Challenge Submissions due: September 30th, 2022 by 11:59 pm ET
Student Paper Challenge Winners Announced: October 30th, 2022
For Mentors and Judges:
Fill out the Mentors & Judges Call for Participation form to receive updates about the Challenge.
Papers evaluated: October 2022
The COVID Information Commons (CIC) is an open website to facilitate knowledge-sharing and collaboration across COVID-19 research efforts—in particular, this database includes thousands of NSF- and NIH-funded COVID-related research awards granted in the United States. Along with a curated collection of global scientific resources and datasets, the CIC website houses several advanced search tools that enable users to explore COVID research projects. Use these tools to learn about the frontiers of COVID-19 research while identifying collaboration opportunities and new topics for investigation.
To participate in the 2022 CIC Student Paper Challenge, students must leverage the resources available from the COVID Information Commons (CIC).
Students should then synthesize their findings and unique insights in a 4- to 5-paged, double-spaced paper. This paper should consider a specific trend or topic that could contribute to future discovery and innovation.
All undergraduate and graduate students at public and private universities, colleges, and community colleges are invited to participate in this challenge. Recent graduates (within the last 12 months) are also welcome to participate. Students located within the United States, as well as international students, are encouraged to participate in the CIC Student Paper Challenge.
Here are some resources to help students develop their research papers:
- CIC COVID Awards and PI Database
- CIC Research Explorer: Machine learning-generated visualizations of COVID-19 research, including 723 NSF Rapid Response Research (RAPID) Awards
- Interviews with COVID-19 Researchers
- Upcoming CIC Research Lightning Talks
- Previous CIC Webinars
- Global research resources: Datasets, groups and guides, and publications
- Recordings and Transcripts of past CIC Research Lightning Talks, including browsable playlists of talks by theme.
- Office hours with mentors: Submit the participation form to receive updated information about dates and registration
Please cite all resources used for your Challenge paper.
We encourage students to write about any topic related to COVID-19 research of interest to them. For example, a paper could propose potential cross-disciplinary opportunities, evaluate a research question based on the experiences of students during the pandemic, or investigate regional and international differences in pandemic research. Students may also analyze the coronavirus from a longitudinal perspective, incorporating information about past pandemics into discussions of the current pandemic and its severity or social impact.
Students also may leverage potential Theme Challenges, or research prompts, as listed below. The Theme Challenges align with one or more of the various research topics presented as video playlists on the CIC’s COVID-19 Research Lightning Talks page.
These research challenges and presentations consider data sharing, privacy, and security concerns.
These research challenges and presentations analyze the role of COVID on new developments and changes in student education.
These research challenges and presentations focus on COVID’s impact on human mobility, including transmission and contact tracing.
These research challenges and presentations describe the effect of COVID on the supply and demand chain, including resource shortages, PPE, and other critical equipment.
These research challenges and presentations deal with the structure of the virus, vaccine development, diagnosing and testing.
These research challenges and presentations consider the relationship between IT, technology, AI, and stats models applied to healthcare.
These research challenges and presentations consider mental health, social media, remote work and education, human mobility, perceptions, attitudes, social distancing, and interpersonal interactions.
Papers will be evaluated by a committee of researchers and other experts on the basis of their intellectual merit and broader impact, two criteria used by the NSF to evaluate project proposals. Papers should demonstrate a thorough understanding of the objectives, methods, and implications of COVID-19 research and make insights and recommendations that contribute to greater societal goals.
The top papers chosen may be published on the CIC website and shared throughout the global CIC community. Authors may also have the opportunity to present their papers at a future CIC event convening researchers and leaders from academia, government, industry, and non-profit organizations.
Can students outside of the United States participate?
- Yes; undergraduate, graduate, and community college students from all countries are invited to participate.
Is approval from a faculty advisor required for this challenge?
- No; however, you are welcome to consult with professors or researchers while writing your paper. Please include an acknowledgement paragraph at the end of the paper if you work closely with any particular researchers or experts on developing your paper.
Can students work on one paper as a team?
- Yes; teams should send one submission form with the names of the primary author and co-author(s).
Can students use resources outside of the resources hosted by the CIC?
- Yes; students may include any pertinent resources outside of the CIC resources as long as they are cited in the paper submission.
How should the paper be formatted?
- The paper should be double-spaced throughout; in 12 pt., Times New Roman font; and 4-5 pages, excluding any notes and references.
How should citations be formatted?
- You are welcome to use any citation style provided that your references are accurate and complete. We recommend Vancouver, Chicago, or APA.
Do the paper and sources have to be written in English?
- Yes, all papers must be submitted in English. English-translated sources can be used if properly cited.
Can the paper include graphics?
- Yes, but all graphics should be explained and cited.
Can I submit a paper I have already written?
- You must explain in your paper how you leveraged the CIC resources to develop your conclusions. You may use the CIC resources to build on past work.
Please contact [email protected] for any other questions.
2021 CIC Undergraduate Student Paper Challenge Winners
The inaugural CIC Undergraduate Student Paper Challenge was launched in December 2020 to bring students into the CIC community and encourage their professional development and training for their research careers. The three student winners of this challenge were offered the opportunity to present their research in one of our monthly CIC Research Lightning Talks and Q&A Webinars.
The CIC student paper challenge winners presented alongside NSF and NIH-funded COVID researchers in the July, August, and September 2021 CIC webinars, providing great opportunities for professional development in preparing and presenting their research to a professional audience. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive: one of the student presenters was offered research funding by one of the PIs attending the webinar, and a potential internship in 2022 at another university.
Learn more about the 2021 CIC Student Paper Challenge Winners:
2021 CIC Student Paper Challenge Winner Testimonial:
“I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate and share my research with the CIC. The process was very systematic, inspirational, and tremendously motivational. The connections and exposure for intellectual discussions have been ubiquitous, opening up further research collaborations for Fall 2021 and a potential internship in the summer of 2022. I could not have imagined all of this happening in such a short time and owe it to the CIC’s openness and consideration to allow a high school student like me to participate. I would love to continue being involved with any other opportunities at the Northeast Big Data Hub”.