It’s February 28th–and thanks to leap year, we have two more days until the March 1st deadlines for ASA paper awards. Apparently not every graduate student knows this, so I’m going to sing it from the rooftops: If you have an empirically grounded paper that you have shared with your advisor, gotten feedback on, revised, and feel pretty good about, then you really must submit your paper for ASA section graduate student paper awards.
ASA recently revamped their website, so it is now much easier to see which papers awards your work might fit, and how to nominate your work. Most of the time, you can nominate yourself, or you can ask your advisor to nominate you. But for what it’s worth, I’ve sat on a variety of award committees, and I’ve never seen the nominee make a difference in the evaluation of an author’s paper. However, make sure that your paper is substantively related to the award call; perhaps the only thing you can do “wrong” is submitting, e.g., a paper that only does not actually engage the substantive topics and questions in that ASA Section.
You may win-and that’s also awesome! There’s so much drudgery involved in academia, and so why miss a chance to have your work recognized?
And if you don’t win? You are sharing your work, and people are paying attention. I was told this as a graduate student, and it felt like a well-intentioned nicety–until I started serving award committees, and started being amazed at just how brilliant the emergent scholars are in the subfields I work in. Like blow-me-away brilliant. I couldn’t convince the award committees to give out oodles of awards (and if you know me, you know that I would be *just* the person to want to buck a “winner takes all” award system), but I could advocate for these grad scholars through my informal channels and networks as I heard about different opportunities that might fit their work. That is, after all, how a lot of sociological buzz works. Submitting to paper awards is especially good, then, for people who hate networking but love the work they do and want to get it noticed without being super awkward at an ASA cocktail hour. (And yes, it’s also good for people who love networking and/or love awkwardness, too :).)
It’s an awesome feeling to be confident enough in your work to share it with others-not just your trusted friends and advisors but also the wider sociological community. Thanks to social media, the open access movement, blogs, and more, there’s a lot more opportunity to share your work. Seize it, enjoy it, spread the sociology!
So, bottom line: Graduate students, you must submit!