Research Paper Competitions at ICPSR

We are now accepting applications for two 2020 competitions (ICPSR Undergraduate and ICPSR Master's), which are listed below.

2020 ICPSR Research Paper Competitions (Undergraduate & Master's categories)

For papers on any topic using data from the ICPSR General Archive or Thematic Collections.

Awards: $1,000 for first place, $750 for second place. There are separate undergraduate and master's prizes for this competition.


  • Entrants must be current master’s or undergraduate students, or recent graduates who graduated on or after April 1, 2019. (Students who graduated before April 1, 2019, are not eligible.)
  • Entrants must be from ICPSR member institutions.
  • Entrants may be from the US or outside the US.

Entry Requirements

All entries must meet the following criteria:

  • Author Status: Must be an undergraduate or graduate student, or recent graduate (graduated on or after April 1, 2019).
  • Coauthorship: Papers written by more than one student are permitted. Coauthored or multiple-authored winners will share the specified monetary awards.
  • Single Submission: Only one paper entered by author, whether as sole author or as a coauthor.
  • Student Authorship: Papers coauthored with faculty are not eligible. Only student-authored papers are eligible.
  • Originality: Each paper must be an original analysis and must be the author’s own work. Papers previously published are not eligible.
  • ICPSR Data: Each paper must analyze data held in the ICPSR archive or one of the Thematic Collections. (Students may use a dataset accessed from another source if ICPSR also holds a copy of the same dataset.)
  • Work Product: Papers submitted must be the product of work toward completion of an undergraduate or master’s degree.
  • Preparation: Paper adheres to preparation requirements (see below).
  • Entry Form: Entry form is completed and submitted (see below).
  • Deadline: All papers and corresponding entry forms must be received by midnight Pacific Standard Time, January 31, 2020.

Paper Preparation Requirements

The paper must be written in English and follow these requirements:


Paper should be no longer than 20 pages for undergraduate entries, and no longer than 30 pages for graduate student’s entries. Page limits include all charts/graphs, references, and any appendices.

Appearance and Format

  • Font should be Times New Roman — point size 12
  • Margins of 1 inch (2.5 cm) all around
  • Double spaced
  • Papers must be submitted in MSWord (DOC or DOCX) or Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format.

Charts and Citations

Title Page and Abstract

  • The title page must include the author’s name, faculty advisor’s name, institutional affiliation, expected degree (or recently received degree) and graduation date (month/year), and email address.
  • An abstract of no more than 150 words must follow the title page. Title and abstract pages are not included in page limits.
  • Page headers and/or footers should contain page numbers and a shortened title of the paper. They are not to include the author’s name or the name of his or her institution. This ensures anonymous review by the judges.

Entry Forms

  1. Papers must be submitted electronically along with the proper Entry/Publication Release Form for the entered competition. They must be sent to the correct email address, as indicated in this section. A complete entry includes the research paper and the appropriate Entry and Publication Release Form in the same, single email.

    ICPSR Research Paper Competition - Undergraduate

    ICPSR Research Paper Competition - Master

    Note:The email must copy the faculty advisor or mentor listed on the application form and any coauthors listed on page 4 of the application form.

  2. Please complete all information and save the files (entry form and the research paper) using the appropriate file-naming format from among the following:

    ICPSR Undergraduate Competition - LAST NAME
    ICPSR Master’s Competition - LAST NAME

    Use the name of only the contest category (ICPSR Undergraduate, ICSPR Master's) you are entering. Follow this naming format for the entry and paper file names, and the email subject line.

  3. The content of the email also must include:

    Student/Author Name(s):
    Email Address:
    Telephone Contact:
    School Affiliation:
    Faculty Advisor or Mentor:
    Title of Paper:
    Competition Category Entered: (ICPSR Undergraduate, ICPSR Master's)


After all materials have been received, a confirmation email will be sent to the author(s) and to the academic advisor/mentor listed on the application form.


  • Panels: Papers will be judged by panels of at least three judges drawn from the ICPSR staff and member institutions.
  • Criteria: Papers will be judged according to scholarly criteria including statement of purpose, thesis development, quality of analysis, and supporting documentation.
  • Anonymity: The judges will not know the entrants’ name or school.


  • Awards will be announced in April 2020.
  • Cash prizes will be awarded in each competition.
  • First-place papers will be published in a special edition of the ICPSR Bulletin, and all winning papers will be published on the ICPSR website.
  • Each winner will receive a framed certificate in recognition of the award.
  • Letters of achievement will be written to the student, and to the faculty, departments, and deans at the student’s institution, upon request.

Promoting the Competition

ICPSR encourages the early promotion of this competition in your campus community. Please share and/or post this flyer (1.9MB) to help student authors be made aware of it.

For more information, please contact Dory Knight-Ingram,

Prize Winners


First Place - ICPSR Undergraduate - Arnold Johnsen, Northwestern University

Second Place - ICPSR Undergraduate - Emalie Rell, Elizabethtown College

First Place - ICPSR Master’s - Angela Lee, Harvard University


ICPSR Master's First Place Winner - Paul Hemez, Bowling Green State University

ICPSR Master's Second Place Winner - Matthew Utterback, Cornell University


No Winners


ICPSR Undergraduate Winner - Candace M. Evans, McMurry University (Texas)

ICPSR Master's Winner - Brielle Bryan, Harvard University


ICPSR Undergraduate Winner - Tiffany Foster, Hiram College (OH)


ICPSR Undergraduate Winner - Lorraine Blatt, Grinnell College (IA)

ICPSR Master's Winner - Peter Lista, Indiana University-Bloomington

RCMD Competition Winner - Jian Li, Central University of Finance and Economics (Beijing)

Data Curation Competition Winner - Tiffany Chao, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

(see all winners)