Research Prize

Submissions are now open

The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications is proud to continue its annual $10,000 Research Prize in Public Interest Communications. This prize celebrates peer-reviewed research that informs the growing discipline of public interest communications.

The College awards three prizes for research that either:

  1. contributes to the understanding of the field as a unique discipline
  2. offers insight that can improve the effectiveness of public interest communications practice, from how the human mind experiences and prefers information, and forms judgments and beliefs, to what motivates people to take action or change their behavior.
  3. details a specific public interest communications campaign, including analysis of the reasons for its success or failure
  4. explores evaluative measures
  5. provides insight on how to communicate effectively to drive belief and/or behavior change in the public’s interest
The college will award one $10,000 prize and two $1,500 prizes to research that meets one or more of these requirements. For more information about our awards program, check out our 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014 prize winners.

What is Public Interest Communications?

Public interest communications is a growing discipline that uses science-based, strategic communication to drive positive social change on issues like education, better health and climate change. Examples of effective public interest communications include campaigns to change behavior such as reducing smoking, increasing seatbelt use, increasing environmentally sustainable behavior, and inserting the concept of the designated driver into American culture, but also include efforts focused on policy change and activism.
While public interest communications has been practiced for decades and has contributed significantly to health and well-being throughout the world, it is only recently recognized as a unique academic discipline and profession.

Qualifying submissions

Only research that has already appeared in or has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal may be submitted for this prize. All research submitted should have been completed within the past two years.
Research may come from any discipline and will be judged by its relevance for use in driving social change through communication. Work from previous entrants has come from the disciplines of public relations, sociology, psychology, neuroscience and political science, though future submissions are by no means limited to those disciplines.

Submissions will be judged based on demonstration of the following:

A review board made up of both prominent academic scholars and experienced public interest communications practitioners will review submissions and vote for the top three papers based on the following criteria:
  1. Sophistication, originality and rigor of research methodology
  2. Relevance of the research findings to the study and practice of public interest communications
  3. Contribution to the understanding of public interest communications as a unique form of communications

The following must be submitted to our submissions page:

  1. A 200-word description of why the research is relevant to effective social change communications.
  2. A 300-word abstract.
  3. A pdf copy of the full-length paper. There are no length requirements for the paper
We will post the descriptions and abstracts with the authors’ names to the Center’s website

Presenting at frank 2019

The top three papers will be presented at frank gathering, Feb. 5-8, 2019. Finalists will participate in a coaching session to help them prepare their content and their visuals for their presentations during frank.
We have designed the prize to be an opportunity for scholars to gain hands-on science communication training from leading communication practitioners in the field. The audience, made up of 300 funders, nonprofit organizations, activists and scientists, provides a unique opportunity to build science communication experience and connect with a community eager to learn and apply your work. 

Scholars will be prepared for the following presentations:

  1. A one-minute introduciton of your work. This will be similar to an elevator pitch but will be prepared in a way to introduce you and your work to the audience.
  2. A five to seven-minute talk about your paper, how it fits within the body of your work and its relevance to the field. This is similar to a Ted Talk you can see similar talks on the frank stage here.
  3. A seven-minute on-stage interview with someone who will discuss how practitioners can apply or experiment with your insights in their work.
This experience is designed to prepare you to communicate your work to a non-academic audience and develop communication insights that can be useful in applying for grants. Past prize finalists and winners have also made strong connections and partnerships with the frank community that have resulted in funded research projects, consulting opportunities and insights for future research.
Finalists will be required to attend the conference. Co-authors are welcome to co-present or split presentation requirements in some cases.

You can read about the experience of our past winners below:

2017: Dr. Lisa Fazio, principal investigator at the Building Knowledge Lab and assistant professor of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University
2016: Dr. Troy Campbell, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Oregon in the Lundquist College of Business
2015: Dr. Sara Bleich, professor of Public Health Policy Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University

Check out all the past finalists

2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
Note: This is not a traditional academic conference. We are a bit quirky, super relaxed and eager to talk about your ideas. The conference takes place in the historic Hippodrome Theater in downtown Gainesville, Florida. Other speakers include strategists, activists, artists, journalists and scholars. You can see our past presenters and attendees under Gather on the frank website.

More Information

The conference registration fee will be waived and hotel rooms will be provided. The winners will be expected to cover their own airfare and other expenses through their award funds.
Conference organizers will reach out to the winners to discuss specifications for their presentations and to coordinate travel arrangements.

Submission Dates for 2019 prize

Submissions close November 1, 2018 at 5 PM ET

Submit here
Finalists will be announced before the end of the year.
Questions about the prize should be directed to Annie Neimand, Director of Research, Center for Public Interest Communications