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Dale A. Olsen Prize

The Dale A. Olsen Prize is awarded annually to the best student paper presented at the annual SEMSEC meeting. The prize is named in honor of Dale A. Olsen, founding member of SEMSEC and Professor Emeritus of Ethnomusicology at Florida State University. The award is only given if the committee identifies a deserving student paper that meets the criteria of the prize. A student shall be defined as a person pursuing an active course of studies in a degree program. This will include persons who are engaged in writing the doctoral dissertation, but not those who are teaching full time while doing so.

Previous Award Recipients

Previous Award Recipients


The award of $100 will be split 50/50, with funds provided by Dale Olsen and the SEMSEC budget. The SEMSEC treasurer will send a check to the awardee.

Prize Committee

Each year, the SEMSEC leadership will appoint 3-5 people from different institutions, drawn from people who plan to attend the meeting, such as SEMSEC officers and session moderators. The program committee may serve as the prize committee, providing all program committee members attend the conference. Prize committee members should not be students. The program committee chair will also serve as the award chair, provided he or she attends the meeting.

Award Procedures

Submission: Students wishing to be considered for the award should submit papers to the SEMSEC Secretary/Treasurer/Program Chair/DAO Prize Chair electronically within seven (7) days after the final day of the annual meeting. Contact information should appear clearly within the e-mail, including name, institutional affiliation and phone number.

Format: Papers should be attached to an e-mail in .pdf format. Because the award will be based on oral and written versions of the paper, sound and video files may be embedded and/or students may submit a separate file with presentation slides, also in .pdf format. For purposes of uniformity and due process, the committee cannot accept other file formats.

Paper evaluation process: The Secretary/Treasurer will collect all submissions within seven (7) days after the final day of the SEMSEC annual meeting. That person will compile the submissions before sending them out to members of the prize committee. The committee will evaluate the submissions within sixty (60) days after the receipt of the submissions. If scoring leaves the winner ambiguous, the committee chair may request written comments and/or facilitate discussion of the front-runners in order to clarify the winning submission.

At the discretion of the chair and by consent of the committee, committee members may be asked to provide written feedback to students. There is a strong precedent within the Chapter to encourage ongoing scholarship through this kind of feedback.

Announcement: The prize will only be awarded if a deserving paper is submitted. Winners will be announced on the chapter website, in the SEM Newsletter, and at the business meeting during the next SEM annual meeting. 

Award Criteria

Committee members rank papers on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the best score, according to the following criteria. Note award must be based on both written and oral presentation.

Written Presentation:

  1. Clarity of problem statement
  2. Knowledge of previous research
  3. Organization
  4. Coherence of argument
  5. Originality of research and contribution to the field of ethnomusicology

Oral Presentation:

  1. Effective use of time
  2. Oral communication skills (pace, eye contact, clearly articulated)
  3. Organization
  4. Effective overall presentation, including use of hand-outs, AV (if applicable)
Revised February 2014 by the committee.