Information for OSPA Judges

Thank you for your interest in judging the Outstanding Student Paper Awards (OSPA)!  Volunteer judges are an integral part of the judging process.  Many long-term AGU members think fondly of their first OSPA win as it marked the beginning of their scientific career.

Judge Registration and Scheduling

Judges may sign up and schedule themselves to judge the OSPA’s online!  The site will open in October for judges.

Inability to Judge

If judges are unable to assess a student or the multiple students they are assigned to assess, they are responsible for finding a substitute.  For reasons of impartiality, it is very important that students be assessed by three individual judges.  Many students aren’t judged when a judge believes they are the only one not to show up!

Conflicts of Interest

When judges are asked to judge specific students, they should be mindful of conflicts of interest (i.e., a judge asked to assess his/her own student).  This should be brought to the attention of their section/focus group’s OSPA Coordinator during the judge assignment process—prior to the Fall Meeting.

Students from your own institution will not be returned in your search results.

Judging Process

While the science presented is important, the primary objective of the award is to recognize presentation skills.  Whether an oral or a poster session, the presentation must be orally presented and explained by the student.  The poster itself is not judged without student commentary, just as an oral session’s slides are not judged independently.

Presentations will be judged by several judges in order to ensure impartiality and balance out unusually high/low scores.  Students have been informed that they must remain by their posters for a minimum of 2 hours and have indicated that time period in the presentation information available in the online system.

Judging Criteria

Judges will assess the students in the following areas and rate them on a scale of 0–5.  Comments from judges are also encouraged in order to distinguish papers with similar scores.

Presentation: Visuals, effective use of allotted time or space, diction (enunciation, volume, and clarity), general style, liveliness, and stage presence

Content: Organization and logic, appropriate comprehension/knowledge of field, clear explanation/ability to answer questions, and significance and originality

Overall Impression Compared to Other Papers Judged

A more detailed document entitled “Criteria for Judging” will be available in the online system navigation menu.

Score Sheets

Judges may print paper score sheets ahead of the meeting or at the meeting itself via the online scheduling system.  These score sheets may be used for taking notes and keeping organized, but all judges must enter their own scores into the online scheduling system by 15 December.  Paper score sheets cannot be returned to the OSPA Resource Center to be entered- they must be entered online by the judge.

Questions?  Please contact Kara Smedley, Program Manager of Student Initiatives at