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.

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). Amongst scholars, the contribution Paul made to the field of performance measurement is considered to be invaluable.

Four Paul Bourke Award recipients are selected each year by members of the Academy’s Panel Committees. It is the intention of the Academy that the awards are presented to social science researchers who, at the time of nomination, do not yet hold an Associate Professor or Professorial appointment and who are normally within five years of receiving their doctorate (with allowances for career interruptions.

The Awards comprise a Citation and Medallion presented to each recipient. With the agreement of the recipients’ home universities, a jointly-sponsored lecture by each recipient is also arranged for delivery during the following year. The recipients are also asked to contribute to media and promotion of their Award and their research by the Academy.

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: Anthropology, Demography, Geography, Linguistics, Sociology, Management.
Panel B: Accounting, Economics, Economic History, Marketing, Statistics.
Panel C: History, Law, Philosophy, Political Science.
Panel D: Education, Psychology, Social Medicine

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

Nomination Process

Nominations for the 2021 Paul Bourke Awards are now CLOSED.

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 citation of not more than 150 words setting out the case for the nominated scholar
  • Two referee reports (max 2 pages each) from scholars in the nominee’s field of study. The referees need not be Fellows of the Academy.
  • A full CV for the nominee.


  • Nominations will open in May and must be submitted no later than 31 July each year.
  • Panel Committees review nominations in August/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).

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 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 therefore, allows extension of the eligibility periods for the Paul Bourke Awards for specified career interruptions.

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 care of a dependent child due to illness or disability) 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 held by the nominator to be produced on request by the Academy, however it does not need to be submitted with the nomination.

Nominees should provide a percentage or total full time equivalent (FTE) for interruptions for maternity or parental leave, carer’s responsibilities, illness or disability.


Further Information and Contacts

Download the 2021 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

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

20111: 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