Best Paper Award

Three Awards are Given

  • One (1) Dissertation Paper $1,000 and up to $500 in travel funds to attend the NRPA 2024 Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA, October 8-11, and a Dissertation Award Certificate.  Note: if AAPRA does not hold in-person event at the NRPA Conference or if the selected awardee is unable to attend, the travel support will not be provided.
  • Two (2) Certificate of Merit awards to two Dissertation Paper finalists

Dissertation Award Eligibility

  1. Open to graduate students in parks, recreation, tourism, or related professions. The submission should contribute to the scholarly literature and have clear implications for the improved practice of park and recreation administration.
  2. The submission must have been written as partial fulfillment of the requirements for a dissertation.
  3. The submission must have been completed within the previous two (2) calendar years including spring semester of the current year. Thus, for the 2024 award eligible papers are those completed in Fall 2022, 2023, Summer 2023, and Spring 2024.
  4. The author of the selected Dissertation paper must present a 5-minute synopsis of their research finding(s) and its implications for the park and recreation profession to the Academy membership virtually at the AAPRA General Membership Meeting in September.


The papers are evaluated using a weighted scoring system with the following criteria:

The subject or topic that was investigated and is being reported should clearly relate to the practice of park and recreation administration in some way. Does the study have implications for/is it applicable to park and recreation administration? Is the subject or topic an issue of concern or interest to park and recreation administration at the present time or in the future? Is the subject or topic relevant and important to today’s professional practice in park and recreation administration? 

The need for the study/problem statement should be clearly articulated and well-situated within the existing literature. Does the study offer new ideas, a creative approach, and questions that relate to the practice of park and recreation administration. The focus of the study, research questions, and/or hypotheses should be evident and directly related to the problem statement.

A literature review includes a critical assessment of existing knowledge and research related to the problem under study and demonstrates a solid foundation of knowledge of the topic under investigation. Is the review clearly related to the research topic, exhaustive, current, and comprehensible?
The processes, methods, and analyses used to explore the subject matter should be appropriate to the type of study objectives and/or questions being asked. Are the processes, research/investigative methods, and data analyses applicable to the objectives of the study? Are the processes and methods used to recruit subjects (if applicable) as well as those used to collect and analyze data appropriate to the study hypotheses and/or research questions under investigation? Methodological quality will be judged within the context of the discipline and type of study utilized.

Results must fall within the bounds of the study objectives and selected analysis techniques. Further, conclusions drawn from the findings should be situated within the context of existing knowledge (the literature review). Implications for practice should be clearly articulated and directly applied to park and recreation administration. Is it evident how the information learned supports/enhances/advances the profession?
Composition, grammar, and limited use of jargon are all measures of writing that is accessible to a wide audience and of high quality. Is the submission well-organized, understandable to all readers, and does it demonstrate a high level of professional writing competence and coherence? 

Entry Procedure

Submit online application by June 1, 2024, along with the appropriate files insert Submittable link.   

  1. The cover page should include the title of the Dissertation; entrant’s name, current mailing address, e-mail address and phone number; academic advisor’s name, e-mail address, and phone number; date on which the submission was completed; and date the degree requirements were completed.
  2. The second page should be a one to two paragraph explanation of how the work contributes to the knowledge base related to parks and recreation administration.
  3. The executive summary of the paper should not exceed 1000 words. If the summary exceeds one page ONLY the title of Dissertation paper should be in the header (a running head) of each page. No personal identifying information should be included on the title or subsequent pages. 

Authors of the three (3) executive summaries that receive the highest ratings by the review committee will be asked to submit a full electronic copy of their Dissertation paper by July 15, 2024. The committee will review each entry, select the Best Paper recipient, and announce the results. Each invited entrant will be notified of the committee decision by August 16, 2024. 

Questions? Contact Chris Beth, AAPRA Best Paper Committee Chair;, 650.333.8803.
American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration
To Inspire, Influence and Advance the Park and Recreation Profession