Graduate Student Honor Competition


The student honors competition consists of paper competitions for both Master and Doctoral level and one combined poster competition for Master and Doctoral levels. Top finalists will be invited to submit their papers for consideration for publication in the Southeastern Geographer journal. 

Eligibility: To be eligible to participate in the student honors competition, you must be a graduate student enrolled in a geography program and in residence at the sponsoring department at the time your research was done. The sponsoring department must be located within the SEDAAG region. Ph.D. students must still be enrolled as a student at the time the paper is presented. Masters-level students who have graduated since doing their research may present their papers at the first SEDAAG meeting following graduation. Papers should represent original research. Maps, illustrations, and other audiovisual materials should be designed and constructed by the author.

No multiple-authored papers will be accepted. Advisors and other students involved in the research can be mentioned in the poster acknowledgments or in the paper presentation acknowledgments, however, only one student can author and present each poster/paper. All topics broadly related to geography may be entered and will be given a critical and impartial evaluation.

Departmental Responsibilities: 

Sponsoring departments need to verify the eligibility of graduate students for the honors competition and conduct preliminary screening of papers to ensure that those submitted are high quality products. Departments should ensure that authors accepted in the competition attend the 2020 virtual meeting and are present for the virtual awards ceremony.

Evaluation Procedures:

Papers and posters submitted for the honors competition will undergo preliminary screening by the Honors Committee. Those accepted for the competition will be referred to the Program Committee for inclusion in one of the honors competition sessions. Papers and posters not included in the competition but accepted in the program will be placed in an appropriate session elsewhere.

Honors Competition Paper Submissions: 

Each paper submitted to the graduate honors competition will be evaluated on the following criteria: original research undertaken by the author, its quality as a written paper, and the oral presentation and defense. In calculating the overall score, the written portion of the paper will be weighted 60 percent and the presentation and defense 40 percent.

The oral examination is independent of the evaluation of the written paper and will focus on the professional quality of the presentation and the adequacy with which questions are answered. In order to determine award recipients, the oral examination of papers will occur with the Honors Committee the week prior to SEDAAG. More details will be forthcoming.

Please note that students will also present their work to the SEDAAG collective in a designated lightning paper session. See information about lightning sessions.

Honors Competition Poster Submissions:

Each poster submission will be evaluated for quality in the written and visual reporting of original research undertaken by the author, for its visual presentation, and for its oral defense/explanation when presented to judges. The weight for each category is as follows: 30 percent for the written component, 30 percent for the oral defense, and 40 percent for the visual presentation.

The evaluation of the visual presentation of the poster will include quality, appropriateness, and visual appeal of maps, figures and illustrations.

In order to determine the poster award recipient, the oral examination of the poster will occur with the Honors Committee the week prior to SEDAAG. More details will be forthcoming.

Students will also submit their poster for the SEDAAG collective in a designated poster session. See information about poster sessions.

Other Considerations for Honors Competition Paper and Poster Submissions:

The paper and posters must be prepared with care and treated as one prepares a manuscript for possible publication, which includes proper citations. A primary criterion for evaluation will be a well-defined research objective and a methodology appropriate to achieving it. The paper/poster should focus on one or more research questions and present at least a tentative answer, or it will receive a lower score in the judging competition. The Honors Paper/Poster Competition is not an appropriate venue for research in the proposal stage or not yet completed.

Submission of Honors’ Papers or Posters Instructions:

  1. Attach the following two items in an email to the Honors Committee Chair, Dr. Eric Spears, Columbus State University ( ) by the SEDAAG abstract deadline Friday, October 9, 2020:

1a) 3,000 word paper* (references/tables/figures DO NOT count toward the 3000-word limit; only the paper’s body is limited to 3000 words) or completed poster or completed poster *If paper exceeds 3,000 words it will automatically be disqualified from the Honors Competition. Below the paper title, please state which competition (Master or Doctoral) that you wish to be considered for.


1b) Completed poster


2) A letter from the student’s advisor or head of the sponsoring department verifying the status and eligibility of the student (a .pdf of an email stating this information is also fine).

  1. Following your paper or poster submission to the Honors Committee Chair, you MUST also register for the meeting by submitting a 250 word abstract to the Abstract Management Portal (url here).  Please indicate in the online system that your submission is for the honors competition.

For more information about the Honors’ Paper and Poster Competition, please contact Dr. Eric Spears ( at Columbus State University.


Submission Instructions

Call For Special Sessions

Graduate Student Honor Competition

Undergrad Poster Competition

World Geography Bowl

Meeting Policies

2020 SEDAAG Meeting

Meeting Registration

Abstract Submission