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The UA Judging Process Explained

Volunteer judges have been recruited from universities, institutions and industry all over the world. These leading global academics volunteer their time and expertise to score and comment on students’ submissions during the judging process. Each category has an international panel of judges, these judges are experts in their field of research and have a vast range of academic backgrounds. Judges from various regions of the globe volunteer their time to review the submissions each year.

Judging is divided into 4 stages across four months. With the volume of entries received we need to give our judges enough time to consider the entries fairly. Each stage involves increasingly detailed analysis of the entries. Each category panel has a unique set of judging guidelines. These guidelines were created in collaboration with previous judges and current sitting judges. Leading academics and industry experts in each category field have been consulted on how best to judge the entries in that category. Guidelines allow each judging panel to establish what makes for winning papers in that category and ensure that all our judges within a category are making consistent grading decisions.

The entire judging process is completely impartial. Not only are the entries anonymous but judges cannot see other judges’ scores or feedback. The submission anonymity requirements allow papers to be considered based on their own merits, without any biases. This allows all papers to live up to their full potential.

  • Papers are screened before judges ever receive them. Screening involves making sure that all papers meet the UA’s anonymity guidelines and their category-dependent word counts. This is why we remind students of the anonymity and word count requirements because if these requirements are not met the papers are disqualified.
  • Stage 1, from late June to early July, is a competitive, qualifying stage. Judges choose which papers will progress further into the competition. This stage relies heavily on judge consensus and papers are only progressed based on a majority. Judges are mindful of entry structure, presentation and argumentation at this stage, with particular attention paid to abstracts or artist statements.
  • Papers then move into Stage 2, which is a comparative stage in July. Stage 2 is where comparative scores are used to decide which papers are the best in their category. Judges numerically rank papers and the top papers are decided based on the entire panels’ scores. Judges focus their attention on the academic rigour of Stage 2 papers. The top bracket of papers in a category is decided in this stage and these papers progress onwards to Stage 3.
  • Stage 3 involves judges giving scores based on the category's guidelines. Stage 3 lasts most of August, as our volunteer Judges also give written feedback on the criteria that they score. Judges really sink their teeth into all of the entries that make it into this stage. All judges on a category panel review all the papers that make it into this stage. Papers in Stage 3 are strong pieces of academic work, and judges focus on scoring and commenting on category-specific criteria. The scoring criteria at this stage considers every aspect of the paper, from language and technique to intellectual insight and publishability. This is the stage in which the top 5-10% of papers are identified. These top 5-10% of papers are our Highly Commended.
  • During Stage 4 in early September, the Global Winner for each category is decided. Category Chair judges decide how many papers are to be considered in the final stage. Only a handful of papers get to Stage 4 and they are all high-quality pieces of undergraduate academic work. The Global Winner is decided during a qualitative discussion had by the entire judging panel.

Highly Commended Entrants will be announced in early September, followed by the announcement of the Global Winners in mid-September.

We would like to wish all the students who submitted to the 2019 programme the best of luck! We would also like to say a huge thank you to all our UA judges who volunteer their summer to partake in the judging process. We hope to see you all at this year’s UA Global Summit, in Dublin this November, to celebrate and recognise these students.