The Paul Bourke Awards for Early Career Research

The Paul Bourke Awards for Early Career Research honour Australians in the early part of their career who have
achieved excellence in scholarship in one or more fields of the social sciences.

Read more about the 2023 recipients.

About the Awards

The Paul Bourke Awards for Early Career Research are named in honour of the Academy’s past president Paul Francis Bourke (1938–1999) who was a product of the History school at the University of Melbourne and went on to become one of the first Australian historians to obtain American style doctoral training.

Whilst at Flinders University, he served as Professor of American Studies and also as Pro-Vice Chancellor. From Flinders University, he went on to become the Director of the RSSS at ANU and also served as the President of ASSA (1993-1997). The contribution Paul made to the field of performance measurement is considered to be invaluable by academic scholars.

Four Paul Bourke Award recipients are selected each year by members of the Academy’s Panel Committees. The awards are presented to social science researchers within five years of receiving their doctorate (with allowances for career interruptions).

The Awards comprise a Testamur and Medallion presented to each recipient. As part of the Paul Bourke Award, and with agreement of the recipient’s home universities, the Academy will assist with the coordination and promotion of a lecture delivered during the following year. The recipients are also asked to contribute to media and promotion of their Award and their research by the Academy.


Nomination Process

Nominations for 2024 will open 16 May and close 31 July

Nominations must be submitted via one of the two online nomination portals:

Fellows Portal – Academy Grants & Awards Page (For use by Fellows of the Academy only)
General Nomination Portal

Anyone can submit a nomination however each nomination must be supported by two Academy Fellows: one named as proposer and one as seconder. The proposer and seconder may choose to complete and submit the nomination, or it can be completed by someone else, including the nominee. The Nomination also requires:

  • A nomination form setting out the case for the nominated scholar.
  • The name, position and email address of two referees who have agreed to provide a referee’s report in support of the nomination by the due date.  Referees should be scholars in the nominee’s field of study. Referees need not be Fellows of the Academy.
  • A full CV for the nominee.
  • Evidence of any claimed career interruptions.

Upon receipt of a nomination, the Academy will contact the referees via email to request a referee report. The referee reports must be submitted by the referees via the nomination portal by 14 August to be considered by the Academy. If the referee reports are not received by this date, the nomination may not be able to be considered for the award. 


  • Nominations will open in May and must be submitted by 31 July.
  • Referees must submit their referee’s report via the nomination portal by 14 August.
  • Panel Committees review nominations in September.
  • Nominees and nominators are advised of the outcome in October
  • Each of the four Award recipients are presented with a testamur and medallion at the Academy’s Annual Dinner (typically November).


Assessment of Nominations

Each eligible nomination received will be assessed by the relevant Academy Panel Committee on the basis of excellence in the social sciences as demonstrated by:

  • scholarly publication, especially in leading international journals and/or books published by leading publishers,
  • academic prizes, research grants and Fellowships and scholarships,
  • presentations at leading national and international conferences,
  • contributions to the advancement of public policy in the social sciences.

The disciplines covered by the Panels are as follows:

  • Panel A – People, Place, Culture, and Communication: Built Environment & Design, Human Society (including Anthropology, Criminology, Demography, Gender studies, Geography, Policy and administration, Political science, Social Work, Sociology), Indigenous Studies, Language, Communication and Culture
  • Panel B – Business & Economics: Accounting, Commerce, Economics, Human resources and industrial relations, Management, Marketing, Tourism, Statistics
  • Panel C –  History, Law & Philosophy: History, Law and legal studies, Philosophy
  • Panel D – Education, Psychology & Public Health: Education, Health Sciences, Psychology

The Academy reserves the right not to select an award in any given Panel or year.


Eligibility Criteria

Nominations will be checked by Academy staff for eligibility prior to assessment by Panel Committees. Eligibility criteria include:

  • A PhD in the social sciences, awarded normally not more than five years* prior to the closing date for nominations, excluding any eligible periods of career interruption.
  • Australian citizenship or permanent resident status.
  • Endorsement by two Academy Fellows as Proposer and Seconder
  • The nominated scholar must not have previously won the Paul Bourke Award for Early Career Research.

* Scholars are eligible to be nominated within five years of the conferral date of their earliest PhD (as certified by the administering organisation), plus any eligible career interruptions. If a nominee has more than one PhD, the earliest awarded PhD must fall within this timeframe.

Eligible Career Interruptions

The number of years between the conferral date of a PhD and the closing date for nominations is a key element of eligibility for the Paul Bourke Awards for Early Career Research. Scholars are eligible to be nominated within five years of the conferral date of their PhD (as certified by the administering organisation).

The Academy recognises career interruptions can have a significant impact on the period between conferral of a researcher’s PhD and the submission of a nomination. The Academy allows the eligibility periods for the Paul Bourke Awards to be extended where specified career interruptions have occurred.

The following significant and non-overlapping career interruptions will be eligible:

Reason for career interruption Time which can be claimed (minimum period of one month)
International relocation Time commensurate with the interruption, not exceeding three months per international relocation.
Child-care as primary carer (includes periods of parental leave as well as part-time work while caring for one or more children) Up to two years per dependent child
Other caring responsibilities (including leave and part-time employment for care of a dependent family member) Time commensurate with the interruption.
Medical condition or disability Time commensurate with the interruption.
Non-research employment (if not concurrent with research employment) or unemployment Time commensurate with the interruption.


Evidence of any career interruptions must be provided at the time of nomination. If claiming interruptions for childcare, evidence such as a letter from the nominee’s employer confirming time taken for parental leave or part time employment will be required. Nominees claiming a career interruption on the basis of “non-research employment” must provide certification from their employer that there was no allowance for the conduct of research during the period of employment.

Nominees should provide a percentage or total full-time equivalent (FTE) for interruptions for maternity or parental leave, carer’s responsibilities, illness or disability. Please note, the FTE of the career interruption should be listed, not the FTE of working hours.


Research Opportunity and Performance Evidence (ROPE) Statement

Nominees are invited to include a ROPE statement of up to 300 words within their nomination, in order to account for other factors that may have affected their research progress outside of the above listed career interruptions. The statement enables the research achievements of the nominees to be evaluated in the context of their career and life experiences that may have affected their research capacity, productivity or contribution. Please see nomination guidelines for examples.


Further Information and Contacts

Download the 2024 Paul Bourke Award Guidelines which include a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

For further enquiries please contact the Academy National Office at or phone (02) 6249 1788.

Past Recipients

2022: Harry Hobbs, Felix Septianto, Gemma Sharp, Sophie Webber

2021: Michele Barnes, Tim Neal, Laura Rademaker, Nathan Caruana

2020: Kari Lancaster, Sarah Walker, Dylan Lino, Michelle Tye

2019: Elise Klein, David Frazier, Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, Melissa Day

2018: Renee Zahnow, Emma Hutchison, Tamsyn Van Rheenen

2017: Elise Sargeant, Amy King, Mark Humphery-Jenner, Daniel King

2016: Muireann Irish

2015: Philip Batterham

2014: Emma Kowal

2013: Anina Rich

2012: Paul Dux

2011: Linda Graham

2010: Christy Newman

2009: Mark A Bellgrove

2008: Murat Yucel

2007:  Jason Sharman

2006:  Andrew Leigh, Jennifer Hudson

2005: Thomas Suddendorf

2004: Alex Bellamy

2003: Lisa Maher

2002: Jason B Mattingley

2001:  Robert Hill, Kaarin Anstey

2000: Andrea Whittaker

1999: Richard Bryant

1998: Chandran Kukathas

1997: Jeff Borland

1996: Tony Aspromourgos

1995: Kay J Anderson

1994: Debbie Terry

1993: John Quiggin

1992: Robert Cribb

1991: Peter Higgs

1990: Vicki Lee

1989: Gregory Whitwell

1988: Wojciech Sadurski

1987: Richard Fox