Nominations are closed for the following annual awards: Distinguished Contribution to Science Education through Research Award (DCA), Outstanding Paper Award (OPA), Outstanding Doctoral Research Award (ODRA), and Early Career Research Award (ECRA). The above award selection committees are currently reviewing the nominations according to established procedures and criteria. The JRST Outstanding Article Award committee is currently reviewing all articles in the past volume of JRST. Award winners will be announced at the 2015 conference in Chicago, IL.
Review of Awards: Discontinuation of JRST and OPA Awards
The NARST Awards Committee is comprised of 12 individuals: Pat Friedrichsen (Chair), Tali Tal (Co-Chair), and the ten chairs and co-chairs of the five individual award committees. Over the past 18 months, we reviewed the five current NARST awards, as no review had taken place in recent history. It was an important task as a tremendous number of volunteer hours go into selecting the award recipients each year.
As we reviewed the awards, we looked at individual award alignment with NARST’s mission. In particular, we considered whether each award aligned with the following part of the mission statement: “The ultimate goal of NARST is to help all learners achieve scientific literacy. NARST promotes this goal by: 1) encouraging and supporting the application of diverse research methods and theoretical perspectives from multiple disciplines to the investigation of teaching and learning in science . . .” As a group, we questioned whether spending hundreds of volunteer hours selecting the “one best” conference paper or JRST article supported the NARST mission.
In addition, we considered whether each award had “stood the test of time” and remained relevant today. For example, The JRST Award was first awarded in 1974 and the Outstanding Paper Award in 1975. Today, we have additional tools, beyond peer review conducted by the award committees, to indicate research quality, including Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar citations.
In April 2014, the Awards Committee held their annual meeting at the NARST conference. We completed our review of the NARST awards, and in accordance with NARST bylaws, a vote was taken on whether we should retain each of the NARST awards. Pat and Tali did not participate in the voting. The Awards Committee voted unanimously to discontinue the OPA and JRST awards.
At the October 2014 NARST board meeting, Pat put forth motions to discontinue the OPA and JRST awards. After thorough discussion, the NARST board voted unanimously to discontinue the OPA and JRST awards. As a result, these two awards will be given for the last time at the 2015 NARST conference award luncheon.
As an Awards Committee, we are moving away from singling out “one best” paper from among the diverse research studies conducted by our members, and moving toward recognizing more individual members across the career continuum. Further, we plan to explore ways in which we can continue to build scholarly community and promote critical discussion of both early career and advanced research within the NARST membership. We are currently seeking suggestions for ways to accomplish this.
Thank you to all the award selection committee chairs, co-chairs and committee members for their service to NARST.
Pat Friedrichsen, Chair of the Awards Committee
Tali Tal, Co-Chair