Best Paper Award

The following three awards will be given in 2023:

  • One (1) Best Paper Award of $750 and up to $500 in travel funds to attend the NRPA 2023 Annual Conference in Dallas, TX. Note: if AAPRA does not hold in-person events 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 Best Paper finalists

Best Paper Award Eligibility

1. Open to graduate students in parks, recreation, tourism or related professions. The submission should make a contribution 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 master’s degree.

3. The submission must have been completed within the previous two (2) calendar years including spring semester of the current year. Thus, for the 2023 award eligible papers are those completed in 2021, 2022, and Spring 2023.

4. The author of the selected best paper must present a 5-minute synopsis of their research finding(s) and its implications for the profession to the Academy membership either in person or virtually.


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


2. QUALITY OF PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT (20 pts): The approach to the topic should be clearly presented and demonstrate knowledge of methods appropriate to addressing the stated problem and its objectives. Methodological quality will be judged in the context of the discipline and type of study/special project which is most appropriate.

3. CREATIVE APPROACH (20 pts): The study should make a creative contribution to the profession. Does the work examine a new problem or an existing problem in a new way? Does the study/special project take a creative contribution to the knowledge of park and recreation administration? Does the study/special project use new techniques to examine an existing problem? Does the study/special project extend beyond present understanding of the topic?

4. USEFULNESS AND APPLICABILITY (25 pts): While the development of theory is important, the study/special project should have implications for the improved practice of park and recreation administration, including addressing elements related to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. This criterion is concerned with measuring practicability and application in a variety of settings.

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. Attributes measured as part of this criterion include organization, continuity, and clarity, along with quality of the writing style and grammar.

Entry Procedures

Submit online application by June 16, 2023, along with the appropriate files:

  1. The cover page should include the title of the master’s thesis/special project paper; 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 is not a formal abstract, rather it is an explanatory summary of the work that clearly explains how the project contributes to the improved practice of park and recreation administration knowledge. 

  3. The summary explaining the applicability of the work should not exceed 1000 words. If the summary exceeds one page the title of thesis/special project should be in the header (a running head) of each page.

Writers of the three (3) explanatory summaries that receive the highest ratings by the review committee will be asked to submit a full electronic copy of their thesis/special project paper by July 27, 2023. 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 end of August 2023.

Questions? Contact Dr. Deb Jordan, AAPRA Best Paper Committee Chair, East Carolina University,, (252) 737-2990.