Postgraduate Conference Paper Prize

Postgraduate Conference Paper Prize is awarded annually to the best conference paper by postgraduate students.

Postgraduate Conference Paper Prize 2021

Judging panel comments:

This paper is an important contribution to the literature on social capital, which has assumed that outgroup trust affects generalized trust, and in particular that low trust in outgroups bleeds into low generalised trust.

The paper tests this assumption by assessing the impact of outgroup salience on the relationship between outgroup and generalised trust. As it correctly argues, if the two are causally connected, one should find that increased exposure to outgroups should also increase the correlation between these two variables. 

Using surveys from Croatia and the United States, the paper finds that this is not the case, thus supporting a strong prima facie argument that low trust in an outgroup does not cause individuals to be less trusting overall. Commendably, the paper is also very transparent about the limitations of the data it uses, and it goes some way to address at least some of them (for example, by the use sub-sample analysis). 

In sum, this is a cogently argued paper that analyses data in a clear and well-presented way to address a theoretical issue with significant policy implications.

The judging panel was unanimous in selecting this paper for the award. The paper presents a well-constructed problem and cogently argued paper that analyses data in a clear and well-presented way to address a theoretical issue with significant policy implications. It reaches publishable standard in the view of the panel (possibly in an outlet such as Comparative Political Studies).

Judging Panel comments:

This paper shows that the Indian State has played a key role in developing the Indian solar energy industry. The paper sets this finding in the context of the International Political Economy literature on India, which has for the most part presented it as inefficient and its action as subject to undue influence by special interests. 

In other words, the paper finds that, contrary to expectations, the Indian State has operated as a so-called developmental State. This is an important finding that can be used as the launchpad for further research on the causal factors behind the apparent success of government policies in the solar energy industry, including both domestic and international factors. In line with previous research (Evans 1995), the author could also ask whether this success is connected to specific features of the industry or to relatively short-term political factors

Overall, this is a sophisticated and somewhat technical paper, successfully blending theory with a thoroughly researched subject area – especially noteworthy for a student at a research-Masters level. It could make a valuable contribution to IPE debates in an outlet such as Review of International Political Economy.


Postgraduate Conference Paper Prize Guideline

The Postgraduate Conference Paper Prize is administered by the conference hosts.

Nomination Guidelines

  • The prize is awarded to the best paper submitted for refereeing prior to the conference by postgraduate students.
  • Each stream coordinator will be invited to nominate the best postgraduate paper from within their stream, informed by referee comments where possible.
  • The nominee must be a current financial member of APSA in the year of nomination.

Judging Process

  • The decision will be made by a judging panel chaired by a member of the conference organising committee. The panel will read and rank the nominated papers, applying the following criteria:
    • Degree of originality
    • use of appropriate sources;
    • coherence of argument;
    • sophistication of analysis; and
  • Members of judging panels should adhere to the Guidance on Identifying and Managing Conflicts of Interest. If the Chair of a judging panel has a significant conflict of interest, they must relinquish their position as Chair to one of the other panellists.
  • APSA reserves the right not to award the prize in any given year.

Award Details

  • The winner will be invited to attend the Association’s annual conference dinner and receive the prize of $1000 and a certificate.
  • This Prize is funded by the APSA.

Past Winners:

2020: James Hayne, ‘ Media Coverage of Opinion Polling: Does the Media Favour Historically Accurate Pollsters?

2019: Jordan McSwiney, ‘Social Networks and Digital Organisation: Far Right Parties at the 2019 Australian Federal Election.’

2018: Prudence Brown, ‘We Can’t Live on a Piece of Paper – pragmatism and innovation in parks policy in the Northern Territory.’

2017: Jiye Kim, ‘Disputed Waters, Contested Norms: China’s bargaining capability in the South China Sea disputes.’

2016: Trang Dand, ‘From ‘high watermark’ to low ebb? How Aboriginal rights debates in Australia have informed land reform policies in the Northern Territory.’

2015: Sean Barry, ‘Gillard’s clean energy future package – paradigm change minus valence equals failure

2014: Tu Phuong Nguyen, ‘Rethinking state-labour relations in Vietnam: New institutional dynamics in resolving labour disputes.’