Emerald & HETL Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards

International recognition for doctoral research in education.

Award status: Closed
Submission deadline: 10 October 2022
Submit: Online application form

Rewarding doctoral research that addresses the grand challenges

We’re proud to support the global research community through an award programme that recognises exceptional doctoral research that addresses the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs are an urgent call for action by all countries to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face including poverty, inequality, climate change, peace and justice.

HETL logoWe believe in quality education for everyone, everywhere.

Our goal is to help find solutions to the disparities across the world by supporting researchers working in this area.

This is why we’re pleased to partner with the HETL to reward the work of doctoral students whose research can create a positive impact in education.

How does it work?

We champion the work of those who share our goal for quality education for all.

We’re offering a prize and two runners up prizes for the best doctoral research from the last three years that demonstrates research excellence in any of the following areas:

  • The future of learning 
  • Educational leadership
  • Sustainability in higher education
  • Remote teaching, learning and collaboration
  • Lifelong learning
  • Reducing inequality in education

You don’t need to submit your full thesis to enter, but you need to succinctly summarise the most important parts of your research. Entries will be judged by leading scholars working in the field of education.

If you’ve completed your doctorate within the last three years, apply now!

The prize

The winner will receive:

  • A cash prize of £500.00
  • A certificate
  • A published interview on the Emerald website
  • An opportunity to work directly with our partners Editage to create a bespoke and engaging research summary.

Runners-up will receive: a certificate and a published interview on the Emerald website.

Submit your research

To submit your work, you will need to apply online using this application form

The following documents are required electronically:

  • Research Summary: A paper that summarises your doctoral research in no more than 2,000 words. Please state whether or not your doctoral research has been published and/or will be published in any form (conference paper, article, peer reviewed journal, etc). Please use the Research Summary template.
  • Letter of recommendation/reference from a supervisor/senior faculty member: the letter should state why your supervisor feels that your work is outstanding and what impact it will have. For shortlisted applicants, further contact may be made with the referee.

Submission deadline: 10 October 2022. Entries submitted after this deadline will not be considered for the award.

Submit your research


To be eligible for the awards, the research must address an issue that is of importance to one of the subject areas listed.

The awards are open to those who have been awarded PhD following completion of viva (thesis defence) and received formal results from your institution’s awards registry between 15 Jan 2019 and 28 February 2022 and have not applied previously for one of these awards.

Judging criteria

Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  1. Originality and innovation
  2. Appropriateness and application of the methodology
  3. Quality of data/research
  4. Significance/implications for theory and practice.

Please note that the decision of the judges is final. Unfortunately, due to the large number of submissions, we are unable to provide individual feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

    Meet our award winners & judging panel


    The judging panel for 2022

    Chair of the judging panel: Patrick Blessinger, founder, executive director, and chief research scientist of the International HETL Association

    • Dr Anand Agrawal, BlueCrest University College, Ghana
    • Dr Madasu Bhaskara Rao, Icfai Foundation for Higher Education (IFHE), India
    • Dr Barbara Cozza, St. John's University, USA
    • Professor Nour el houda Chaoui, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abedellah University, Morocco
    • Dr Elena García Ansani, USA
    • Professor Beena Giridharan, Curtin University, Malaysia
    • Professor Glenn Hardaker, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei Darussalam
    • Dr Martina Jordaan, University of Pretoria, South Africa
    • Dr Fareeda Khodabocus, University of Mauritius, Mauritius
    • Dr Corinne Laverty, Queen's University, Canada
    • Professor Walter Leal, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany
    • Dr Serpil Meri-Yilan, AICU, Turkey
    • Dr Michael Miller, University of Arkansas, USA
    • Dr Nandita Mishra, Amity University, India
    • Dr Eugenie A. Panitsides, Hellenic Open University, Greece
    • Dr Sweta Patnaik, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa
    • Dr Krassie Petrova, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
    • Professor Jayson W. Richardson, University of Denver, USA
    • Dr Enakshi Sengupta, Center for Advanced Research in Education (HETL), USA
    • Dr Mahruf Shohel, Institute of Development Studies, Bangladesh
    • Professor Abhilasha Singh, American University in the Emirates, UAE
    • Professor Tony Wall, Founder and Head of the International Centre for Thriving Institutional lead for the Inter-University Research Programme for Sustainable Development & The European School of Sustainability Science and Research, UK

    Gabriel Brito Amorim

    Dissertation title: The internationalization of higher education in Brazil: A proposal for a multidimensional (self)assessment matrix
    Institution: Federal University of Goiás, Brazil
    PhD obtained at: Federal University of Espírito Santo

    'I am very humbled and honoured to be the 2021 Emerald and HETL Outstanding Doctoral Research Award recipient. 

    Worldwide, the internationalization of higher education has been at the core of discussions, and, in Brazil, the subject gained special attention over the past decade due to the launch of government-funded mobility programs and other funding opportunities. 

    The ultimate goal of my doctoral research was to, after thoroughly delving into the literature and documents already in place, design an instrument, which we refer to as the internationalization (self)assessment matrix to hopefully help higher education institutions to assess and plan their internationalization actions/policies. The multidimensional matrix encompasses 3 dimensions (Teaching, Research and Outreach), 3 categories of analysis (Language Policy, Academic Mobility and Internationalization at Home) and 3 suggested classifications (Internationalized, Engaged and Emerging). The instrument was designed for the Brazilian setting, but it can be adapted to other contexts, which is why this award is so important to give visibility to the research/matrix so that we can start collaborating with institutions and organizations worldwide. 

    A big thanks to my advisor, Dr. Kyria Finardi (UFES, Brazil) and to my dissertation committee: Dr. Daniel de Mello Ferraz (USP, Brazil), Dr. Cláudia Kawachi-Furlan (UFES, Brazil), Dr. Telma Gimenez (UEL, Brazil) and Dr. Renata Archanjo (UFRN, Brazil).'

    Highly commended

    Femi Oladele

    Dissertation title: Professional Accountants’ Training Framework and Use of Social Media, Mobile and Cloud (SoMoClo) Technologies in Nigeria
    Institution: Bowen University, Nigeria
    PhD obtained at: Bowen University, Nigeria

    'I am so very delighted to be part of the 2021 Emerald and HETL Outstanding Doctoral Research Award. This recognition brings with it some forms of pleasant validation by an outstanding partnership between Emerald and HETL. This is indeed delightful, and it gives me both a nudge and boost to do more and better.

    Sincere appreciation to my thesis supervisors, thesis committee and everyone who aided and supported the production of the work that has now been graciously rewarded.

    I am grateful for the recognition as I commit to more excellent scholarly reconnaissance and contributions.'

    Linda du Plessis

    Dissertation title: Sense-making and Legitimacy During Institutional Radical Change: The Case of South Africa's Free Higher Education
    Institution: North-West University, South Africa
    PhD obtained at: University of Bath

    'I am humbled by this recognition from Emerald Publishing. Appreciation and respect for research that contributes to the sustainable development goals is necessary and I hope recognition like this inspires others to continue with their research!'

    Frequently asked questions

    Do I need to submit my full thesis?

    No. You do not need to submit your full thesis. The judges’ decision will be based on your ability to succinctly summarise the most important parts of your research in relation to the judging criteria.

    Am I eligible to apply if my viva date is scheduled for after 28th February 2022?

    No. However, this is an annual award and you can apply next year.

    What should be included in my ‘Research Summary’?

    Using the Research Summary template, complete the following details

    • Why your research contributes to a more responsible world and any applications in practice if applicable
    • What is original and innovative about your work
    • The methodology you applied
    • Your data and how they led to your findings
    • Details of any papers published or presented based on your thesis research.

    What should be included in the 'Letter of recommendation/reference from a supervisor/senior faculty member'?

    NB. This should be from your doctoral supervisor, or any member of the committee/judging panel deciding on your thesis, depending on how your doctorate is conferred in your country or university.

    It should answer the following three questions:

    1. What is outstanding about the thesis?
    2. What is the substantive contribution to the field?
    3. Is the data of good quality and how difficult was it to obtain?

    Am I eligible to apply if my thesis is not in English?

    Yes. You can apply provided that your application, research summary and reference letter are all in English.

    I have already published a paper based on my research. Am I still eligible to apply?

    Yes. You can apply whether or not you have published a paper from your doctoral research. If you have published, please provide details in your Research Summary.

    Can I apply for more than one Outstanding Doctoral Research Award?

    No. Unfortunately, we can only accept one application per person.

    Can I apply if I have previously applied for an Outstanding Doctoral Research Award?

    No. You can only apply for an Outstanding Doctoral Research Award once.

    We also have awards for...

    Real Impact Awards

    Celebrating the commitment to impact by the research community across the globe.

    View awards

    Interdisciplinary Research Fund Award

    Supporting researchers with IDR that makes an impact.

    View award

    Emerald Literati Awards

    Celebrating high quality scholarly research.

    View awards

    Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards

    Supporting the global research community through our awards programme.

    View awards

    Emerging Markets Case Studies Competitions

    Emerald partners with a range of organisations to offer case writing competitions.

    View competitions

    Regional Research Fund Awards

    Proud to sponsor many research funding initiatives throughout the world.

    View awards

    Get in touch

    If you would like more information about this award please fill out the form and one of our team will be in touch.


    You can read the full information about how we use personal data in our Privacy Notice. You can simply click the ‘unsubscribe’ link in any marketing email you receive from us if you don't want to receive them.