NRPA Research Sessions Call for Abstracts

Proposals were due no later than February 23, 2018

2018 NRPA Research Sessions
Indianapolis, Indiana
September 25-27, 2018
Shu Cole & Ben Hickerson, Co-Chairs, Tina Liang, Poster Presentation Chair

The NRPA Research Sessions (NRS) are a forum to elevate and exchange research related to the advancement and future direction of municipal parks and recreation, recreation based agencies, and state and national parks and public lands.

In alignment with NRPA’s three pillars (conservation, health and wellness, and social equity), the goal is to fulfill the additional educational needs of the diverse NRPA constituency base by providing a selection of relevant topics addressed by top-notch researchers. NRS event attendees represent a broad spectrum of people who are engaged in the broader park and recreation field as people from a variety of communities come to NRPA. NRS proposals that provide valuable implications for park and recreation professionals are more likely to be selected for presentation. The primary audiences for the NRS are Practitioners and Academics focused on data-based research that can inform the field.

NRS abstract proposals should consist of completed studies OR scholarly/conceptual discussions exploring a variety of research topics pertaining to the park and recreation profession and industry. Accepted proposals are presented either as formal paper presentations, research posters, or as panel sessions. We have been particularly encouraged by the positive feedback on the panel presentations; a popular addition to the NRS. All proposals receive the same double blind review regardless of presentation format. Proposals for all presentations are included in a published book of abstracts, in an electronic file format only.

Proposals submitted for review should contain subheadings identifying an introduction/rationale, methods, results, and application to practice. In the interest of appealing to the broad audience, proposals should provide a heavier focus on the rationale and application to practice sections of the study but with enough detail about methods and results to allow reviewers to assess the rigor of the research. Proposals should not exceed two pages, single‑spaced (see instructions to follow). Because of this limitation, it is imperative that abstracts are drafted carefully and provide a coherent overview of the paper that will be presented.

Proposals were due no later than February 23, 2018.

If you have any questions, please contact Rasul Mowatt at

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.

Studies that have been previously published or presented at another professional conference may be submitted, but original research will be given preference. If a proposal containing material that has been published or presented elsewhere is accepted for presentation in the NRS, author(s) are required to inform us and will be asked to provide reference information, and will be responsible for avoiding copyright or plagiarism violations.

Two or more proposals from the same study cannot be submitted for review under different titles/authorship unless substantially different aspects of the study are represented in each proposal.

All proposals will undergo a blind peer review by reviewers with expertise in the topical area(s) or a related area to which the proposal was submitted. The NRS Co‑Chairs will make the final decisions about acceptance, but typically adhere to the recommendations of the reviewers. Proposals may be rejected due to time and space limitations, ineffective development of the 2‑page submission criteria, violation of conditions 2 or 3 (above), weaknesses in the study/discussions 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 proposal or in the properties). For further information see Section I and II below.

Author(s) 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 2018 will preclude an author from presenting at the 2019 NRS.

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

Proposals were to be submitted no later than February 23, 2018.



The dates provided for reviews and notifications are outlined below, but are subject to change.

2018 NRPA Conference & Exposition – Indianapolis, IN *

  • Proposals Accepted Electronically through February 23, 2018
  • Proposal Acceptance/Rejection Notifications – by the end of April 2018
  • Revised Proposals emailed to co-chairs to be included in digital book of abstracts – by May 18, 2018

* Event Dates – September 25-27, 2018


Abstract Preparation Details

I. 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 proposal 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.

A.  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 proposals based on these pillars. Papers accepted for presentation will be re-grouped into coherent themes for the NRS at the Annual Conference.

Thematic Areas

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

B.  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.

II. Proposals (See below for Panel Session Details)

A.  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).

  • Text (including introduction/rationale, methods, results, and application to practice): 2 pages maximum
  • Tables and figures (optional): 1 page maximum
  • References (recommended): 1 page maximum

B. Proposals submitted for review should contain subheadings identifying a introduction/rationale, methods, results, and application to practice outcomes; only completed studies or scholarly/conceptual discussion should be submitted. Please limit discussion of theory, methods, and results in the proposals, paying more attention to rationale, discussion, and application to practice outcomes so as to appeal to a broad audience including practitioners and academics.

  • Use 12‑point font Helvetica (ADA guidelines) 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 proposal authors in your submission as this undermines the blind-review process that will result in a rejected submission.

Do not include any author name in the title of the document when saving (e.g., “2017 Research Session Proposal.docx” NOT “Mowatt Research Session Proposal 2017.docx”).

Please remove all track changes or comments between authors on the submitted document. Identifying information is contained within these comments.

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.

III. Tables and Figures (optional)

Associated tables and figures not exceeding one-page should be attached at the end of the abstract text as a separate page.

Tables and figures should follow the same font and margin format as specified above for abstracts if provided.

All Tables and Figures should be formatted according to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition).

IVReference List (recommended)

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

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

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

V.    Panel Session Submission Instructions

Panel sessions submissions require four page abstracts proposal (one page that introduces the main points provided by the panel organizer, and three pages outlining and explaining the nature and discussion of the panel, as well as introducing the panelists) that conform to the formatting guidelines. Each proposal has the option to include one additional page for tables & figures, and a recommended one page for references. The panel session organizer will be responsible for convening and moderating the panel session around a central theme. 

Introduction and summary of main points from panel organizer: 1 page maximum

Abstract: 3-page maximum

      a. tables & figures (optional): 1 page maximum

      b. references (recommended): 1 page maximum

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

    Application to Practice Outcomes

Provide three observable and measurable outcomes of the research that are applicable to practice. Limit to one sentence (20 words or less) per outcome.

Application to practice outcomes should specify how the research informs practice, and what professionals will learn 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 Application to Practice 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 proposal is accepted.

Information if the sole or the principal author of the abstract proposal 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.

  Send Correspondence Regarding Abstract & Timeline to NRS Co-Chairs         

Shu Cole (

Ben Hickerson (