2019 BEST PAPER AWARD (Master’s thesis)  - Submit by Friday, May 17, 2019

DESCRIPTION: The Academy (AAPRA) is an organization of distinguished practitioners and scholars committed to the advancement of the park and recreation field and has three primary purposes:

  • To advance knowledge related to the administration of public parks and recreation.
  • To encourage scholarly efforts both by practitioners and educators to enhance the practice of public parks and recreation administration, and to promote broader public understanding of the importance of public parks and recreation to the public good.
  • To conduct research, publish scholarly papers, and/or sponsor seminars related to the advancement of public parks and recreation administration.

In light of the Academy’s focus, AAPRA hosts an annual competition that alternates annually between best master’s thesis (odd years) and best doctoral dissertation (even years). 

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

  • One (1) Best Paper Award of $1,000 plus expenses of up to $500 for the author to travel to the Academy’s Annual Meeting to receive the award and present the paper
  • Certificate of Merit awards to the two (2) next “Best Papers” submitted.


  1. The student “Best Paper” includes:
    1. a master’s thesis or a major professional paper written in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a master’s degree or
    2. a senior undergraduate thesis written in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a baccalaureate degree
  2. The degree should have been completed in the previous two (2) calendar years (2017 or 2018).
  3. The paper should make a contribution to scholarly literature and have clear implications for the improved practice of park and recreation administration.
  4. Papers written by students who were pursuing a doctoral degree at the time the paper was written are not eligible.
  5. The writer of the winning paper should attend the Academy’s annual meeting (at the 2019 NRPA Conference in Baltimore) and present a five (5) minute synopsis of his or her thesis/project.


  1. Submit two electronic files to Mark Young, Chair of the Academy’s Best Paper Award Committee by Friday, May 17, 2019 at The files should include:
    1. File #1:
      1. Cover page listing the title of the paper; 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 paper was completed; and date the degree requirements were completed.
      2. The executive summary of the paper, not exceeding 1000 words
    2. File #2:
      1. Cover page with the title of the paper and no other information
      2. The executive summary of the paper, not exceeding 1000 words
  2. A blind review of the executive summary will be undertaken by the Academy’s 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 thesis/paper to the Committee Chair. The committee will then review each paper and announce the results. Final awardees will be notified toward the beginning 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.


  • April 1                 Call for papers
  • May 17                 Electronic executive summaries due to Mark Young,
  • June 7                 Evaluation of the executive summaries completed by committee &  narrowed to three (3)
  • June 28              Top three (3) entries will submit full paper (electronically)
  • July 26                Evaluation of three (3) papers completed and winners notified
  • September 24   Presentation of winning paper made at the AAPRA annual meeting (TBA)

For more information: Mark A. Young, Chair of the Academy’s Best Paper Award Committee,  Ph. 614-582-7913.