Portraits of American Life Study
Hosted by The ARDA
The PALS seeks to understand the impact of religion in everyday life, and ultimately the connections between religious change and other forms of change among diverse individuals and families over the course of their lives.
Portraits of American Life Study (PALS):

Contest Guidelines


To encourage graduate and undergraduate students in a variety of disciplines to conduct scholarly research using data from the Portraits of American Life Study (PALS) Wave 1.


The PALS is a multi-level study focused on religion in the U.S., with a particular focus examining ethnic and racial diversity. The first wave of the 2,610 face-to-face interviews was completed in 2006, with more waves of interviews with the same participants planned in the future.

Subject of Paper

The paper may be on any topic relevant to social sciences as long as analysis is drawn from the PALS data set. Use of additional data sources to supplement the PALS is also acceptable. More information is available about the project and the data.


The competition is open to all graduate and undergraduate students enrolled at any accredited university or college, in the U.S. or worldwide, for the Fall 2009 and/or Spring 2010 semester. Papers must be student-authored only. Papers with multiple student authors will be accepted for consideration, but papers with a faculty author, even if co-authored by a student, will not be accepted.

Accessing the Data

See our Results & Summaries for more detailed information about the PALS data. To download the data, go to the Researchers section where you will find the downloading option and additional documentation. If you have any questions about accessing the data, send an email to Adele James at PALS@rice.edu.


Graduate: 1st - $1,000; 2nd - $500; 3rd - $250

Undergraduate: 1st - $500; 2nd - $300; 3rd - $100


One electronic copy should be submitted via email to PALS@rice.edu with the subject of the email being “2010 PALS National Student Paper Competition.” Electronic copies must be received no later than 11:59 pm Central Time on the due date listed below. Entries received after the deadline will not be considered.

Graduate: Paper and Entry Form due by Friday, January 29, 2010 [see winners]

Undergraduate: Paper and Entry Form due by Thursday, April 1, 2010 Monday, May 3, 2010. [see winners]


To provide the same information to all applicants, any questions regarding the competition must be emailed to Adele James, PALS Project Administrator, PALS@rice.edu. A formal response will be given within 5 business days and posted for all users. Go to Questions for a complete list of submitted questions and responses.

Judging Criteria

Entries will be blind-judged by a committee consisting of at least three scholars. Student papers will be judged by the committee on criteria normally used in evaluating scholarly and scientific papers for publication:

  1. The advancement of a relevant theoretical framework,
  2. Appropriate use of research methods and data,
  3. A persuasive argument that leads to a logical conclusion,
  4. The paper’s contribution to the knowledge in its field, and
  5. The quality of writing and presentation.


Student competition papers must be submitted as an email attachment in Adobe PDF, MS Word or rich text format and must be accompanied by a completed Competition Entry Form in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format. Additional requirements include:

• Papers must be 15 to 35 pages in length, including all notes, tables and references, set in 12 point font with double spacing and one inch margins on all sides of standard 8.5” x 11” paper.

• All tables and figures should be numbered and cited within the text.

• References must be included at the end of the document.

• Entries must include an abstract of 150 words or less.

• A Competition Entry Form in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format is required for any paper to be considered in the competition. The author’s name and affiliation should not appear on any pages of the submitted paper or abstract.

• The paper must be written in English.

• The winning papers will be published on the CORRUL or PALS websites or publications, in accordance with their respective terms and conditions, in a Working Paper Series of award-winning papers. Credit will be given to the authors.

• Authors retain full but non-exclusive right in their papers and may submit them for publication in other venues at any time.

Please direct your submission as an email attachment to:
Subject: “2010 PALS National Student Paper Competition”

Please address questions in writing to:
Adele James, PALS Project Administrator
E-mail: PALS@rice.edu
Rice University
6100 Main St. MS-28
Houston, Texas 77005
Fax: 713-348-5296

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