Ray Debus Award for Doctoral Research in Education


This award recognises excellence in educational research by doctoral students. Normally only one award will be made each year. It is seen by the Association as a way of recognising the high-quality contribution made to educational knowledge by graduate students, and at the same time promoting dissemination of research.

Originally known as the AARE Award for Doctoral Research in Education, the first award was made in 1989. In 2014 the Award was renamed in honour of Dr Ray Debus, AARE founding member and Honorary Life Member, who passed away early that year. Ray had the distinction of having attended all 44 AARE annual conferences held from the association’s founding up to 2013. During his many years at the University of Sydney, Ray mentored many doctoral students and early career researchers.

Funding round: single round per annum

Current Year Applications due: Closed

Amount:  A framed certificate will be presented to the recipient at the AARE Conference. There is an amount of up to $1,500 to assist the recipient to attend the conference.

Eligibility criteria

Anyone who has been awarded a doctoral degree from an Australian institution in the two years prior to 30 June in the year of the award is eligible. Theses accepted for the degree after this date may be nominated in the following year.

Nominations may be made from qualified Faculties, Schools or Departments of Education, or from other relevant parts of the University where doctoral theses in the field of education research are produced, by the Dean or relevant Head.  Self-nominations are not accepted.

No more than one nomination may be made in any one year from each institution. Nominations are accepted until the above-mentioned due date.

Merit criteria

The main criterion for assessment of excellence in doctoral research in education will be the contribution made to theoretical, empirical, and/or methodological knowledge in education. In particular, preference will be given to studies which:

  • make a conceptual advance in educational theory, policy and practice;
  • point to the methods of improving educational practice or pioneer innovation;
  • contribute through disciplined research to knowledge on which new educational practices may be based; or
  • contribute to advances in methodology of educational research, evaluation and dissemination.

Other criteria include

  • Originality and thoroughness in carrying through the research;
  • Quality of presentation of the work;
  • Other things being equal, theses which are judged readily adaptable to scholarly and professional dissemination will be preferred;
  • Given that the above criteria are met, no preference will be given to any particular substantive issues that might be addressed.


  • Funds will be made available following the conference paper presentation.

How to apply

>> Submission Form

  • Using the above submission form and by the indicated date, submit:
    • a letter of nomination from the Dean of Education or Director of Graduate Studies or other relevant Head. This letter is simply to nominate the thesis for consideration for the award - it is not to argue a case for the thesis in relation to the Award.
    • a 250-word statement that outlines why the thesis should win the Award. This may consider the criteria for the award.
    • a copy of the title page, abstract and contents pages
    • full examiners' reports. Examiners' reports should contain the names of the examiners.
    • Full copies of short-listed theses will be requested when necessary. Institutions may also provide a brief summary of any other factual information relevant to the nomination.

Selection process 

Applications will be assessed by the Awards Panel which is convened each year by the Awards Convenor. The Committee will normally select one thesis for the award, but may, in exceptional circumstances, select a tie of no more than two theses, or recommend that no award be given.

The panel’s decision will be final and no further correspondence will be entered into. The final decision on the award must be ratified by the AARE Executive Committee.

The award will be made during the Annual Conference of the Association.

Previous awardees


Dr Jennifer Dove WSU being presented with the Ray Debus Award

Dr Jennifer Dove - Winner Western Sydney University

The place and art of writing alongside secondary English students in rural communities: An ethnographic case story of writerly identities


Dr Fiona Westbrook (Special Commendation) RMIT

Early Childhood Educators’ Political Dialogues during the Pandemic: A Bakhtinian Dialogic Analysis in Facebook Groups


Dr Belinda Friezer (Special Commendation) CSU

How do infants interact in groups in long day care across the first two years of life?


Dr Roz Ward RMIT

Family Values: An autotheoretical exploration of the backlash against Safe Schools in Australia

Show all awardees »