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!

You will find a new and improved online scheduling system that allows them to search by session, view the student’s abstract, view the times a student will be at their poster, and more!

Sign In

Judges, click here to sign into the OSPA System:

013_1083_OSPA Sticker Update- Skin for MoA2

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.  In previous years, a significant number of judges failed to assess their scheduled students, resulting in numerous students not being assessed.

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 Meeting.

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 the entirety of the session and if they are unable to do so, they must leave a sign indicating the hours they will be present.

Judging need not be anonymous, although it is ideal.  For Meeting of the Americas 2013, judges will be given a meeting ribbon identifying them as an “OSPA Judge.”


Judging Criteria

The presentation of the poster/oral session is as important as the science itself.  The award encourages preparation and the clear, concise presentation of a student’s work.

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 provided to judges when they sign up to become judges.

**  It is important that no half-scores be given.  Students will be rated on a scale of 0–5.


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.  Paper score sheets cannot be returned to the OSPA Resource Center to be entered- they must be entered online by the judge.

The online scheduling system is compatible with smartphones, tablets, and laptops, as it is a web-based program.  Judges are encouraged to enter their scores via one of those devices.  Judges may also borrow a tablet from the OSPA Resource Center in order to enter their scores!


Questions?  Please contact Student Member Specialist Kara Smedley at 202-777-7456 or at