NRPA Research Sessions Call for Abstracts

Call for Abstracts

2016 NRPA Research Sessions

St. Louis, MO
October 5-8, 2016
Research Session Co-Chairs: Dart Schmalz & Rasul Mowatt

The NRPA Research Sessions (formerly known as the Leisure Research Symposium) provide an international forum for scholarly exchange and discussion about leisure. The Sessions include both theoretical and applied research applicable to daily practice, with an emphasis on the latter.  

Our goal is to fulfill the educational needs of the diverse NRPA constituent base by providing a selection of relevant topics that align with the NRPA Three Pillars (conservation, health and wellness, and social equity) addressed by top-notch researchers. NRPA learning event attendees represent a variety of communities and are a broad spectrum of people who are engaged in the park and recreation field, from entry level employees and university educators to middle managers and executive-level park and recreation professionals. We are encouraging broad spectrum attendance and participation in the research sessions. We anticipate that the audience will reflect a range of experience levels, from longtime NRPA members to people who are just starting to investigate the park and recreation profession. Research Session proposals that are relevant to a cross-section of NRPA members including academic researchers and practitioners are more likely to be selected.

Papers are presented either as formal paper presentations, posters, or as part of a panel session. We have been particularly encouraged by the interest and feedback of panel submissions, which have been a popular addition to the research sessions. All proposals receive the same rigorous, double blind review regardless of presentation format. Proposals for all presentations are included in an electronic published book of abstracts.

Research session proposals should consist of empirical studies exploring a variety of research topics pertaining to the park and recreation profession. Proposals submitted for review should contain subheadings identifying an introduction, methods, results, discussion and implications. Only completed studies should be submitted. Please limit discussion of theory, methods, and results in the proposals, paying more attention to rationale, discussion, and implications in order to appeal to a broader audience of researchers and practitioners. Proposals should not exceed two pages, single‑spaced (see instructions to follow). Because of this limitation, it is imperative that abstracts are written carefully and provide a coherent overview of the paper that will be presented.

NRPA is happy to announce that cash awards for Best Abstract aligned with each of NRPA's Three Pillars (conservation, health and wellness, and social equity) and complimentary one-day registration will be awarded for top proposals within each thematic area.

Selection Criteria 

NRPA seeks to fulfill the educational needs of our diverse audience by creating a balanced program that is comprehensive and reflects a multitude of perspectives. Research sessions will be reviewed and selected based on their contribution to the following criteria:

  • Overall quality of the proposal
  • Focused and well-defined topic
  • Timeliness of topic
  • Relevance to the park and recreation profession
  • Practical application of material
  • Applicability to a national audience

Conditions for Proposals

Only completed studies or scholarly/conceptual discussions may be submitted.

Two or more abstracts from the same study cannot be submitted to different sessions under different titles/authorship unless substantially different aspects of the study are represented in each paper.

All proposals will undergo a blind peer review by three reviewers with expertise in the topical area(s) to which the abstract was submitted. The Symposium Co‑Chairs make final decisions about acceptance, but typically adhere to the recommendations of the reviewers. Papers may be rejected due to time and space limitations, ineffective development of the 2‑page abstract, violation of conditions 2 or 3 (above), weaknesses in the study or that it does not meet the selection criteria (above), or failure to adhere to the standards of the blind review process (e.g., including name/contact information on the body of the abstract). For further information see Section I and II below.

Authors who have their proposals accepted for paper, poster or panel presentations are expected to deliver their presentations as assigned during the NRPA Annual Conference. Failure to adhere to this guideline in 2016 will preclude a researcher from presenting at the 2017 Research Sessions.

Researchers who wish to submit panel proposals should submit three (3) one-page papers addressing one central theme and a one (1) one-page introduction from the panel organizer. For further information see Section III below.

Proposals from student authors may be considered for the ALS Best Student Abstract Award.  Student abstracts receiving the highest scores during the review process (and indicate they wish to be considered) are sent to a sub-committee comprised of ALS fellows and the Research Session Co-Chairs and Poster Coordinator.To meet the eligibility requirements for the Best Student Abstract Award, only the presenting student should be listed as author or 1st author, or the abstract and research should be primarily be the student’s work, as defined by guidelines outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition).  Current graduate and undergraduate students and those who have graduated within 6 months of receiving a Ph.D. at the time of the Annual Congress will be eligible for the Award.  The author of the Best Student Abstract will be notified in June of 2016.

Abstracts were to be submitted electronically no later than January 29, 2016. Abstracts submitted after this deadline will not be reviewed. We are no longer accepting proposals at this time.


Research Session Proposals will be accepted on an on-going basis until the closing date.  The timeline for our annual conference is listed below.  Please note: Dates in this section are subject to change.

2016 NRPA Annual Conference – St. Louis, MO

Proposal Deadline - January 29, 2016

Proposal Reviews – February 1 - March 4, 2016

Proposal Acceptance/Rejection Notifications – end of April 2016

Revised Proposals to be included in digital book of abstracts – June 15, 2016

Event Dates – October 5-8, 2016

Abstract Preparation Details


Two pages maximum (92 lines total) including all written text. Tables and figures may be added on one additional page, and references may also be provided on an additional page. Abstracts exceeding this page limit or using condensed font to circumvent page limitations will not be reviewed. A reference list is recommended but not required (see below).

1. Written text (including rationale, methods, results, discussion, and application to practice): 2 pages maximum

2. Tables and figures (optional): 1 page maximum

3. References (optional): 1 page maximum

Proposals submitted for review should contain subheadings identifying an introduction, methods, results, discussion and implications; only completed studies should be submitted. Please limit discussion of theory, methods, and results in the proposals, paying more attention to rationale, discussion, and implications so as to appeal to a broad audience including researchers and practitioners.

Use 12‑point font Times Roman and one inch margins on sides, top and bottom. 

Single space the text.

Abstracts must have a title that reflects the general nature of the abstract in 10 or fewer words

Please do not explicitly identify the abstract authors in your electronic submission as this undermines the blind-review process. To remove author identification follow these instructions: In Word, go to File, Prepare for Sharing, Inspect Document, Inspect, Remove all Document Properties and Personal Information.

Add line numbering to the text. In MS Word, go to Page Layout and select "Line Numbers, Continuous."

The lead author will be responsible for writing the learning objectives for the session for CEUs. 

Abstracts that do not meet these specifications will not be reviewed.

Reference List (optional) 

A list of references not exceeding one-page (46 lines total) should be attached at the end of the abstract (as a 3rd page).

The list of references must follow the same font and margin format as specified above for abstracts if provided.

Reference list should be formatted according to Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition).

Panel Session Submission Instructions 

Panel sessions submissions require four one page abstracts.  The panel session organizer will be responsible for convening and moderating the panel session around a central theme. 

Three one page abstracts written in accordance with the Research Session guidelines (single-spaced, 12 point font, 1 inch margins, title, etc) should be collected by the panel session organizer.  Abstracts should provide sufficient detail as to the proposed paper contents.  (PLEASE NOTE: The discussant’s paper does not need to be submitted at this time).

The panel session organizer should also submit a one page abstract providing an introduction to the theme and summarizing the main points of the three presentations (i.e., the three abstracts mentioned above). 

The panel session organizer will be responsible for writing the learning objectives for the session for CEUs. 

Specification of Thematic Areas and Format Preferences 

During the electronic submission process, you will be asked to identify which of NRPA’s Three Pillars (conservation, health and wellness, social equity) the research session best fits. Additional areas (methodology and research design, management and administration of recreational programs, other) have been provided to meet the potential needs of proposed sessions.

Specify the pillar that best matches the objectives of the study in the order of preference (from the thematic areas that are listed below). Reviewers will be selected and asked to review session proposals based on these pillars. Papers accepted for presentation will be re-grouped into coherent themes for the Research Sessions at the Annual Conference.

Thematic Areas

  • Conservation
  • Health and Wellness
  • Social Equity
  • Management and Administration of Recreation Programs
  • Methodology and Research Design
  • Other (topics the authors feel do not fit any of the above categories)

Presentation Format Preference

The author’s preference for presentation format. Indicate one of the following:

  • Poster only
  • Prefer poster but would do formal presentation
  • Prefer formal presentation but would do poster
  • Formal presentation only
  • Panel session presentation

Note: Reviewers are not aware of the stated presentation preference. This information in conjunction with time and space limitations is used by the Research Session Co‑Chairs when establishing the final conference schedule.

Indicate whether the authors would like their abstract to be considered for the ALS Best Student Abstract Award (see author eligibility) 

Learning Outcomes  

Provide three observable and measurable learning outcomes. Limit to one sentence (20 words or less) per outcome.

Learning outcomes are statements that specify what learners will know or be able to do as a result of attending your session.  Outcomes are usually expressed as knowledge, skills, or attitudes.

They help to:

  • Focus on learner's behavior that is to be changed
  • Serve as guidelines for content, instruction, and evaluation
  • Identify specifically what should be learned
  • Convey to learners exactly what is to be accomplished

When writing Learning Outcomes, use verbs that are observable and measurable.

Contact Information

Principal author's name, institutional affiliation, mailing address, phone number, fax number, and e‑mail address. It is assumed that, unless otherwise specified, this person will make the presentation if the abstract is accepted.

Information if the sole or the principal author of the abstract is a student.

Full contact details for all co-authors. This includes full name, institutional affiliation, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address.  

The principal author's contact information over the summer (June 1 to Aug. 31), if different from above.

Correspondence Regarding Abstract

Authors will be notified of abstract review results via email in April 2016.

Research Session Co-chairs

Dart Schmalz (

Rasul Mowatt (