Best Paper Award


April 28: Call for papers (dissertation only)
May 29: Electronic executive summaries due to Dr. Andrew Mowen, Chair,
June 22: Evaluation of the executive summaries completed by committee &  narrowed to three (3)
July 17: Top three (3) entries will submit full dissertation (electronically)
Aug 21: Evaluation of three (3) dissertations completed and winners notified
TBD: Presentation of winning paper made to AAPRA

BEST PAPER AWARD CRITERIA: The following three awards will be given:

  • One (1) Dissertation Award of $1,000.  (NOTE: as of April 29, 2020, NRPA announced the cancellation of the 2020 Annual Conference scheduled for October in Orlando, FL. $500 in travel funds will not be provided in 2020)
  • Two (2) Certificate of Merit awards to the next “Best Paper Dissertation” submitted


1. For the Dissertation award, the submission must have been written in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a doctoral degree.

2. The Dissertation must have been completed within the previous two (2) calendar years and including spring semester of the current year. For the 2021 award, eligible dissertation are those completed in 2019, 2020, and Spring 2021.

3. The Dissertation should make a contribution to scholarly literature and have clear implications for the improved practice of park and recreation administration.

4. The author of the winning Dissertation must provide a 5 minute synopsis of their disserttion (and its implications for the profession) for presentation to the Academy membership. Format TBD.


1. Submit two electronic files to Andrew Mowen, Chair of the Academy’s Best Paper Award Committee by June 30, 2021.  The files should include:
     a. File #1:
         i. Cover page listing the title of the Dissertation; student’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 Dissertation was completed; and date the degree requirements were completed.
         ii. The executive summary of the paper, not exceeding 1000 words
     b. File #2:
          i. Cover page with the title of the Dissertation and no other information
          ii. The executive summary of the Dissertation, not exceeding 1000 words

2. A blind review of the executive summary will be undertaken by the Academy’s Best Paper Committee.

3. Writers of the three (3) executive summaries which receive the highest ratings will be requested to submit a full electronic copy of their Dissertation to the Committee Chair by July 17th. The committee will then review each Dissertation, select the winner, and announce the results. The final awardee will be notified toward the end of August.

CRITERIA: The papers will be evaluated by a committee of Academy members using a weighted scoring system with the following criteria:

1. RELATIONSHIP TO PARK AND RECREATION ADMINISTRATION (15 pts): The subject matter must relate to park and recreation administration in some way. While it may use a separate disciplinary approach – for example, management, marketing, economics, financing, evaluation – it must have relevance to park and recreation administration in the broad context. Given these parameters, is the topic timely and of importance?
2. QUALITY OF THE PROBLEM DEVELOPMENT (25 pts): The methodology should be clearly presented and should demonstrate knowledge of techniques appropriate to the research and its objectives. Methodological quality should be judged in the context of the discipline and type of study which is most appropriate.
3. CREATIVE APPROACH (20 pts): The study should make a creative contribution. Does the study examine a new problem? Does the study make a creative contribution to the knowledge of park and recreation administration? Does the study use new techniques to examine an old problem? Does the study extend beyond present understanding of the topic?
4. USEFULNESS AND APPLICABILITY (20 pts): While the development of theory is important, the study should have implications for the improved practice of park and recreation administration. This criterion is concerned with measuring practicability.
5. QUALITY OF PRESENTATION (20 pts): The quality of the writing, including readability and use of graphics, is measured by this criterion. Technical jargon may be necessary but the writing should be understood by practitioners. The organization, continuity and clarity, are of concern together with the quality of the style and grammar.

For a PDF of the Announcement click here. 

For more information: Andrew Mowen, Ph.D, Chair of the Academy’s Best Paper Award Committee,  Ph. 814-777-5848 (cell).