Research for the Profession

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:

  • 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.

$50:     AAPRA Member/Online
$100:     Individual/Online

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, presented annually for a Dissertation (even numbered years) or a Master’s Thesis (odd numbered years). The Best Paper Committee solicits nominations from colleges and universities throughout the US and rigorously evaluates all submissions.  The selected nominee receives a $1000 cash prize and $250 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.