2023 SEDAAG Graduate Student Honors Paper/Poster Competition(s)

What the Honors Committee Oversees:

  1. Undergraduate Student Paper/Poster Competition
    • Posters are sponsored and administered by the SEDAAG Education Committee.
  2. Graduate Student Paper/Poster Competition
    • Includes: Master and Doctoral levels

Guidelines for the Graduate Student Honors Paper/Poster Competition(s)

The student honors competition consists of paper competitions for both Master and Doctoral levels and one combined poster competition for Master and Doctoral levels. The master’s level will be combined with the Doctoral level if minimal students submit abstracts for the presentation portion of the competition. Master’s level competition will still be judged separately from the Doctoral.


To be eligible to participate in the student honors competition, you must be a graduate student enrolled in a geography or related discipline (such as but not limited to, geology, geosciences, earth and environmental science, sustainability, anthropology, history, and sociology) 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

Each department is required to verify the eligibility of graduate students for the honors competition and conduct a preliminary screening of papers to ensure that those submitted are high-quality products. Each department should ensure that authors accepted in the competition attend the 2023 meeting and are present at the awards ceremony.

Evaluation and Selection 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 an honors competition session. Papers and posters not included in the competition but accepted to the SEDAAG program will be placed in an appropriate session elsewhere. Students will be notified by the Honors Committee if they were accepted to the competition and if their work was accepted but will be placed elsewhere.

Paper Submisions and Presentation Criteria

The paper and poster 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.

Each paper submitted to the graduate honors competition will be evaluated on the following criteria:

Paper Criteria:

  • Original research was undertaken by the author.
  • A 3,000-word paper of publishable quality in its entirety.
  • The oral presentation and defense at SEDAAG.
  • Proper citations, bibliography, and acknowledgments (if included).

Paper Presentation Criteria:

The oral examination is independent of the evaluation of the written paper. It will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • The professional quality of the presentation to a general audience.
  • The visual quality of the presentation.
  • The adequacy with which questions are answered.
  • Proper citations and acknowledgments.

It is important that the oral presentations be lively and well-illustrated. All visual aids should be intelligible. Reminder: Maps, illustrations, and other audiovisual materials should be designed and constructed by the author. To leave enough time for questions, each oral presentation should adhere to the time limit (15 minutes) for delivery by the person specified by the person chairing the session. Questions will be 5 minutes.

The Overall Score:

In calculating the overall score, the written portion of the paper will be weighted 40 percent, and the presentation and questions 60 percent.

Graduate Honors Competition – Poster Submissions and Presentation Criteria

Each poster submission will be evaluated on the following criteria:

Poster Criteria:

  • Quality in the written and visual reporting of original research undertaken by the author.
  • It’s a visual presentation.
  • It’s an oral explanation when presented to judges.
  • Proper citations.

Poster Presentation Criteria:

  • The overall poster’s quality, appropriateness, and visual appeal, including maps, figures, and illustrations.
  • Materials should be of professional quality and legible from a distance of three feet.
  • The text should be confined to brief statements.
  • The text should be well organized.
  • Proper citations.
  • Maximum poster dimensions are 36’ by 48″.

The Overall Score:

The weight for each category is as follows: 30 percent for the written component, 30 percent for the oral explanation and questions, and 40 percent for the visual presentation.

Submission Instructions for Graduate Honors’ Papers or Posters

Step 1

Join or renew your SEDAAG membership. https://sedaag.org/.

Step 2

Please indicate in the online system that your submission is for the honors competition, and please make sure that if you are submitting a paper, you clearly identify if you wish to be considered for a Master or Doctoral level competition. Register your paper/poster through the online submission form on the SEDAAG website (see link below), where you will also submit your abstract.


Step 3

Attach the following two items in an email to the Honors Committee Chairs, Dr. Joyce Clapp, University of North Carolina – Greensboro (jfclapp@uncg.edu) and Dr. Michele Abee, Bellarmine University (mabee@bellarmine.edu) by the SEDAAG abstract deadline (September 22, 2023):

  • The 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. *If the paper exceeds 3,000 words, it will automatically be disqualified from the Honors Competition.
  • 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).