Research for the Profession

Research for the Profession

AAPRA Research for the Profession Committee

The Research for the Profession Committee continues efforts to foster greater connectivity between research and evidence-based practice (e.g., programming, planning, administration), as well as among those who engage in such activities. 

These efforts reinforce the purposes of AAPRA to:

  1. Conduct research and publish scholarly papers;
  2. Encourage scholarly efforts by practitioners and educators that enhance the practice of parks and recreation administration; and
  3. Advance knowledge related to the administration of parks, recreation, and conservation


In 2018, the Academy Board of Directors created a Research for the Profession Task Force to address the gap between practitioners and researchers. In 2020, the Task Force became a standing committee. The Task Force has:

  1. Conducted a survey of AAPRA members to study current management challenges facing parks and recreation agencies and to identify resultant research needs. [Note:  Preliminary findings have been submitted for publication];
  2. Conceptualized an AAPRA Research Assistance Community (RAC) of seasoned parks and recreation faculty willing to share their expertise and insights with local agencies seeking evidence-based information to advance their programming, development, and management capabilities; and
  3. Initiated discussions with leadership of the AAPRA Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, The Academy of Leisure Studies, and the NRPA Education Network regarding enhancement of modalities for better communicating research findings to practicing professionals.

Additionally, in support of its research goals, the Academy sponsors:

Evaluation of Management Challenges

To identify primary management challenges and research needs/interests, AAPRA members were asked to consider the array of daily challenges they faced in managing and delivering services in their communities and, hypothetically, with the money and resources to tackle them, which they would invest in solving. Responses to areas of interest/need were grouped into ten themes intended to stimulate discussion on accessing evidence and inspiring research.  Management Challenges in Parks and Recreation Agencies has been published HERE in Parks & Recreation Magazine. 

Assistance Community 

To establish an accessible and practitioner friendly distribution platform for sharing research and resources, and to connect researchers with practitioners to partner on research into practice projects that immediately address agency issues and problems.

The Journal of Park and Recreation Administration:

Launched in 1983, the JPRA is published by Sagamore Venture Publishing, Champaign, IL. The Journal’s purpose is to bridge the gap between research and practice for administrators, educators, consultants, and researchers. It provides a forum for the analysis of management and organizations for delivering parks, recreation, and leisure services. Current Academy members receive an electronic/online subscription to JPRA as a benefit of membership.

To subscribe to JPRA click here. 
Individual Online: $110.00 / annually
Institution Print/Online: $528 / annually  

Through the Academy sponsored Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, these recently published papers demonstrate that research is addressing issues administrators are facing:

  • Evaluating and effectively marketing recreation services and programs 
  • Addressing inequities: understanding the constraints felt by ethnic and marginalized groups as they strive for outdoor recreation experiences
  • Making connections: using storytelling and social media to connect with Latinos 
  • Understanding the barriers, needs, and wants felt by transgender individuals in their access to recreation 
  • Considering a research strategy that seeks to align management needs with actionable research on sustainable recreation and tourism

    Read more here 

The Best Paper Award (Thesis or Special Project Paper and Dissertation)

The Best Paper Award, presented annually for a Dissertation (even numbered years) or a Master’s Thesis or special project paper (odd numbered years). The Best Paper Committee solicits nominations from colleges and universities throughout the US and rigorously evaluates all submissions.  The selected Dissertation recipient receives a $1,000 cash prize ; the selected Best Paper recipient receives a $750 cash prize; and both receive $500 to support their travel to the Academy Annual Meeting. The winner is also invited to present a brief summary of their research and the brief is posted on the Academy’s website. To learn more visit the Best Paper Award page.

Multi-day Seminars

Bringing together industry experts from local, state, regional, and national park, recreation, and conservation agencies and educators to strategize around the complex issues facing the profession. Over the course of its 40 years, the Academy has sponsored or jointly sponsored these opportunities to bring together forward-thinking practitioners and educators. We look to continuing these seminars either face to face and virtually.