GISS-SG Student Honors Paper Competition

AAG Meeting: Honolulu Hawaiʻi– April 16 – April 20, 2024

The Geographic Information Science and Systems Specialty Group (GISS-SG) of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) is pleased to announce the 2024 Honors Competition for Student Papers on Geographic Information Science topics to be presented at the annual meeting. The purpose of this competition is to promote scholarship and written and oral presentation by students in the field of GIS. Papers are invited from current graduate and undergraduate students on any topic in geographical information systems and geographic information science.

Any paper that advances any aspect of GIS is welcome. We encourage papers on theoretical, conceptual, and methodological developments in GIS as well as on particular innovative GIS applications. Papers must be based upon original work, completed as an undergraduate or graduate student, relevant to the field of GIS and current GIS research. Papers must be mainly written by the applicant, but having co-authors is allowed. Students who are selected as finalists will be placed in a special session at the annual meeting.  A single submission can only be submitted to one AAG special group honor paper competition. The only exception is a student who is also selected as a Nystrom Dissertation Award finalist, in which case, he or she may present in the Nystrom paper session instead.

Enhancing diversity, promoting inclusion, and broadening participation in the discipline of geography are goals that are central to the AAG and its mission. We strongly encourage female students and students in underrepresented groups in geography to participate in this competition.


November 10, 2023 – extended abstract (~1000 words) and AAG conference registration PIN due to Dr. Gengchen Mai at

November 28, 2023 – finalists notification

February 15, 2024 – for graduate student finalists, full paper due to Dr. Gengchen Mai at 

Note:  prior to extended abstract submission you must submit your conference abstract on the AAG website at which point you will obtain your abstract ID/PIN. 


Up to ten finalists (two sessions) will be selected including a maximum of 5 undergraduate and 5-10 graduate students on the basis of the quality of extended abstracts and provided with an award of $200 each to present at the conference. The extended abstract no longer than 5 pages demonstrating GIS novel methods, toolkits, or applications of GIS to solve a real-world problem is used by the GISS-SG Awards Committee to choose the competition finalists. Graduate student finalists must submit a paper of a substantive nature that constitutes an expanded discussion of the material to be presented orally at the annual meeting. Full paper submission is not required for undergraduate finalists. Subsequent to the oral presentations by the finalists, there will be special awards for the 1st and 2nd-place presenters. The prizes of $500 for 1st place and $250 for 2nd place in both the graduates group and the undergraduates group will be determined immediately following the special presentation session.

The awards committee reserves the right to not offer such prizes if the papers are not of sufficiently high quality. The 1st and 2nd-place awards are decided on the basis of the written paper or extended abstract and the oral presentation. They will also receive tickets to attend the AAG Awards Luncheon, and results of the competition will be published in the AAG Newsletter and the GISS-SG newsletter, as well as on the specialty group’s web page.


The competition is open to students at all academic levels. Any paper first-authored and presented by a student is eligible for the competition, provided the paper has not already been published or presented somewhere. There is no limitation on the number of co-authors, however, the applicant student is required to be the first author.  It is worth noting that your extended abstract/paper can only be submitted to one AAG special group honor paper competition.

Applicants must be a current member of the AAG GISS Specialty Group (GISS-SG). For instructions on how to become a member of the Geographic Information Science and Systems Specialty Group, simply contact the AAG. There are no student dues for the GISS-SG.


Extended abstracts and written papers will be judged by the GISS-SG Awards Committee (Chair, Vice Chair, Academic Director, Communications Director, Commercial Director, Governmental Director, and Student Director) on several criteria: potential contribution to the field of GIS, originality, appropriate use of methodology, scholarship, organization, and written composition. The oral presentation of papers will be judged on professional delivery, organization, clarity, and appropriate use of graphics. Judging will take into account the academic level of the applicants.


Up to ten competition finalists will be notified by November 28, 2023. Each graduate student finalist will be asked to submit a written paper of about 4,000-6,000 words, expanding on the material in the extended abstract.

This paper will be due no later than February 15, 2023. Details about the final written paper are provided lower on this page.


To be considered for participation in the GIS paper competition, an extended abstract must be submitted (about 1000 words, no more than 5 pages including figures; references don’t count to the page limit) (12-point Times New Roman font, one-inch margins, and single-spaced lines). Applicants must clearly indicate that they wish to be considered for the GISS-SG Student Paper Competition. All submissions not accepted for the competition by the awards committee will be incorporated into the AAG meeting program in other sessions.

Students can use the WORD Template or Latex Template for extended abstract submissions.

Applicants must also submit an AAG participant number which is issued when successfully registering for the AAG meeting (in other words, you must register for the AAG virtual meeting and submit a short abstract using the AAG’s registration website, before submitting your longer abstract to the GISS-SG competition). The extended abstract and participant code (PIN) are due to the GISS-SG Academic Director. Please send abstracts with [GISS-Name-Grad/Undergrad] headline via email as an attachment (Microsoft Word or PDF) to Dr. Gengchen Mai (


Papers, including the related bibliography and associated tables and figures, should be submitted in the format used by the International Journal Geographical Information Science (see A cover page listing the author’s (or authors’) name(s), student status, academic affiliation, faculty advisor for the paper, mailing address, phone numbers, and email address should also be included. The second page should include only the title of the paper and the 250-word abstract. The content of the paper should begin on the third page.

The final written paper should be submitted electronically via email to Dr. Gengchen Mai ( as an attachment (12-point Times New Roman font, one-inch margins, double spaced). The content of the paper is limited to about 20 pages in length (text, references, figures and tables, about 4000-6000 words total).



Send all submissions and inquiries to:

Dr. Gengchen Mai

Academic Director, Geographic Information Science and Systems Specialty Group

Department of Geography, University of Georgia


Leave a Reply