Student Awards

The DSAI are committed to recognising the work of outstanding student researchers. Each year the association makes an award to the best Student Paper presented at the annual DSAI conference. The award started in 2015. 

The DSA Ireland is delighted to announce that the winner of the Best Student Award for the 2016 Annual Conference is Alix Tiernan for her paper entitled "Status and 'Good Behaviour' - How Women in Patriarchal Zimbabwe Influence Power Holders".

DSAI Best Student Paper 2016

Alix cropped 2015

Winner. Alix Tiernan

Authors: Alix Tiernan , Pat O’Connor
Paper: "Status and Good Behaviour - How Women in Patriarchal Zimbabwe Influence Power Holders". Download paper : [ .doc format ]  [ .pdf format ]

In awarding this prize the judges noted, "This is a very interesting study of how women negotiate gender roles to empower themselves and have an impact on power holder in Zimbabwe. The study is very well-focused, sufficiently informed theoretically and empirically challenging. The results reach inductively from a well-balanced focus group and they are read through a dynamic understand of power relations, gender roles and empowerment. The paper is clear in what it wants to achieve and its theoretical perspective. It does not attempt to provide grand conclusions on gender and power, but is a serious and conscientious preliminary study and in longer term research trajectory." Read more

General Terms and Eligibility

Authors that wish their papers to be considered for the award must submit their full paper by the date specified by DSA Ireland before the annual conference.

The Best Student Paper prize is awarded on the basis of a written paper (minimum 3000 words) and the presentation of a paper by a post-graduate student at the DSA Ireland annual conference. This prize will be to the value of €300 and additionally two faculty members, drawn from the DSA Ireland membership or steering committee, can give the student feedback as reviewers on publication or further dissemination of the paper. The written papers will be scored on the basis of the following criteria:

Judging criteria

Innovation (40)

Originality of contribution with an emphasis on the paper’s innovativeness in one or more of the following areas:

(i) theoretical development;

(ii) empirical results or;

(iii) policy development

Argument (30)

Quality of argument incorporating:

(i) critical analysis of theories and findings; and

(ii) coherence of argument

Positioning (20)

Clear positioning of paper in existing international literature with a strong conclusion(s). The findings of the paper should be significant or have the potential for meaningful impact.

Writing Style (10)

Writing style will be judged for accuracy, clarity, readability. The structure and organisation of the paper will also be judged.

The student paper with the highest overall score from the external judge will be awarded the prize. In the case of a tie the prize will be jointly awarded and the prize money split evenly between the two recipients.

General Terms and Conditions


  • The award is open to all post-graduates who submit a paper to the DSA Ireland conference regardless of their country of origin or their position within the DSA Ireland organization;

  • The main author of the paper must be a post-graduate. A post-graduate may submit co- authored papers where the co-authors do not hold a PhD. Specifically, co-authored papers with faculty members are not eligible for consideration;

  • A written paper (minimum 3,000 words) must be submitted at least a week in advance of the oral presentation strictly adhering to the format of a conference paper submission.

  • Submitting a paper to the DSA Ireland Best Student Paper Award competition, does not preclude its consideration for other prizes at the conference, such as the Robert Chambers Award.


  • The judges' decision is final;

  • Authors should not contact with judges with respect to the paper before the prize is awarded. If influence is exerted, the paper will be deemed ineligible for the award.

Judging panel

  • The judging panel consists of two internal judges, from the DSAI Steering Committee or broader membership. The internal judges shortlist two candidates for each award to put forward. An external judge then scores each shortlisted candidate against the above criteria, to determine a winner. The external judge is drawn from the group of keynote speakers at that year’s annual conference.

  • Post-graduate members of the DSA Ireland organisation are not eligible to serve on the judging panel of the DSA Ireland Best Student Paper Award competition.