JESP/ESPAnet Doctoral Researcher Prize

The Journal of European Social Policy (JESP) and the Network for European Social Policy Analysis (ESPAnet) are offering a prize to the best paper by a doctoral researcher presented at any of the ESPAnet conferences, workshops or seminars in 2021 or 2022.

The prize-winning paper is provided with high-profile opportunity of publication in JESP, and the winner also receives 1 year’s free subscription to the journal.

Deadline of submissions: 31 December 2022.

Submission rules

The authors may themselves submit papers they have presented. Papers must have been presented at, or contributed to, an ESPAnet workshop, conference or seminar in 2020 or 2021. Authors should have been not awarded their doctorate at the time of presentation. Jointly authored papers are acceptable, provided that none of the authors have not been awarded their doctorate at the time of presentation.

Submissions must address an aspect of comparative social policy with relevance for European countries and they should contribute to our understanding of social policy in Europe. Otherwise papers are free in their choice of subject, country/countries, theoretical perspective, methods and discipline.

Authors are encouraged to revise their papers in the period between presentation at an ESPAnet event and the submission deadline.

Submission process

To enter this prize authors should email their papers to on or before the deadline. In the subject line of the email please state “JESP/ESPAnet Doctoral Researcher Prize 2023.”

Please attach the following to your email (in MS word format):

  • A separate title page containing the title of your paper, your full contact details, institutional affiliation, name of PhD supervisor, and ESPAnet event at which the paper was originally presented.
  • An anonymous separate word document containing the paper’s title and abstract (abstract of no more than 150 words).
  • A separate document containing the main text of the article. This also should be anonymous.

Style, format and guidelines

Submissions should follow the JESP house style. Details are available on the journal website and on the inside back cover of each issue.

Criteria for assessment

All submissions will be judged by two JESP editorial board members and two ESPAnet board members. The judges are particularly looking for exciting, innovative and scholarly work, which challenges existing perspectives; poses new research problems and develops answers that offer sophisticated or subtle insights and interpretations from empirical evidence; and/or which develops new methods, or applies old methods in new ways to illuminate our understanding.

Judges are specifically requested to assess and rank the submitted papers in terms of:

  • their scholarly interest and originality
  • analytical and, where appropriate, methodological rigour
  • quality, coherence and structure of argument
  • publishable quality following one set of relatively minor revisions, and where necessary, clarification/improvement of language.

Please note: If the judges conclude that none of the submitted papers meets the required standard, the prize will not be awarded. 


The judges will evaluate, rank and return the papers and their decision to the editorial office. Candidates should receive feedback and the results of the competition in April 2023. The winning author(s) must return her/their final version paper, conforming in length and style to JESP requirements, to the JESP office by the end of June 2023. Authors will be required to revise their submission in the light of judges’ comments as a condition for publication and for receiving the prize.

A formal announcement of the prize-winner is made at the annual ESPAnet conference in the autumn.

Past winners

In 2022 the prize was won by Hyojin Seo (University of Kent) with paper entitled “Gendered labour market patterns across Europe: does family policy mitigate feminisation of Outsiders?”. The paper will be published in the February 2022 (vol. 32, no. 1) issue of JESP. 

Tijs Laenen, the winner of the prize in 2017 says the following about winning the prize: “In addition to being an honourable recognition of your hard work, the JESP/ESPAnet Doctoral Researcher Prize is a great opportunity to take one of your papers to the next level. At the ESPAnet conference in Rotterdam, where I presented my paper for the first time, I was already under the impression that it was well received. Some of the participant’s words of praise even convinced me to submit to the prize. The detailed feedback of the anonymous reviewers, however, made me realize that much work remained to be done, as they made it clear that there was still ample room for improvement. Thanks to their stimulating feedback, the paper evolved from a Dutch case study to a study whose findings and implications stretch far beyond the Netherlands, and hopefully inspires future research on the link between welfare institutions and welfare attitudes in other countries. To all PhD-students who are in doubt of submitting their paper to the JESP/ESPAnet prize, I can only tell: If you want to better your work, do not hesitate to participate!”

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