Research Committees

Walter Buckley Memorial Award for Excellence in Presenting Sociocybernetics of the ISA RC51

Established in 2006


To encourage the improvement of oral paper presentations in conferences by giving a prize to the didactically best presentation in the RC51 sessions at a conference or at an RC51 conference. This award will be given for the didactical and technical quality of presenting and communicating with the audience, neither for the contents of a scientific paper itself nor for mere technical features like, e.g., an impressive Powerpoint show without much scientific contents. Other prizes awarded are usually for papers not for the quality of presenting, which is a distinctive feature of this award. The purpose is to point out good examples and to provide an incentive for the improvement of presentations.


"Walter Buckley Memorial Award for Excellence in Presenting Sociocybernetics" of the ISA RC51 on Sociocybernetics


The personal oral presentation of scientific findings and direct communication with an audience remains a key to the communication, understanding, and discussion of scientific findings and ideas which are essential for scientific progress. This also remains true in the face of the overwhelming abundance of technical and electronic tools available nowadays for exchanging information across distances as well as supporting face-to-face communication.

Many presentations at congresses and conferences are excellent but there are many others that could be improved to provide more important contributions to the progress of science.

RC51 on Sociocybernetics wants to give such a prize because Cybernetics is - following Norbert Wiener´s formulation - a science of communication and, as per Heinz von Foerster´s formulation of Second Order Cybernetics, a science of observing observers. Hence it makes every sense for RC51 on Sociocybernetics to self-referentially observe its own observers and try to promote and improve scientific communication.

The name of the award refers to the late Walter F. Buckley Jr. (born April 17, 1921, in Lynn, Massachusetts, and deceased on January 26, 2006, in Durham, New Hampshire, USA). It was chosen because Walter Buckley made great efforts during his lifetime to spread the word on systems and cybernetics both within and beyond the social science community.

The board of RC51 considers an award referring to Walter Buckley as a most appropriate way to honor this eminent sociologist and systems scientist. It will maintain a lasting memory of Walter Buckley both within RC51 and within the wider social science and systems community.


The award will consist of a certificate to be given to the winner. There will be an announcement of the winner on the RC51 website and in the RC51 Newsletter.


Eligible persons are all participants presenting a paper orally in an RC51 session at a World Congress of Sociology or at an intermediate "International Conference of Sociocybernetics", whether organized by RC51 independently or conjointly with some other organisation. All participants are eligible irrespective of their ISA or RC51 membership status. The same person may receive the award once only in the four year period between one World Congress of Sociology and the next.

Equal Opportunities

The award will be given strictly on the basis of the merits of the presentation, irrespective of gender, nationality, language etc.

RC51 makes special efforts to provide a forum for French and Spanish speaking scientists, French and Spanish being official languages of the ISA as well as English. There are thus equal opportunities for these language communities also. If the presentation is not given in the presenter's mother language an appropriate adjustment will be made in the evaluation.


All participants in the respective RC51 sessions, whether presenting or not, can nominate a presentation for the award, to be seconded by at least one other person. Nomination and seconding of one's own presentation is not admissible.

If there are no nominations, the RC51 International Scientific Committee of the respective congress or conference is responsible for nominating at least one candidate.

Selection Process

From the nominated presentations the best one will be chosen by the members of the RC51 International Scientific Committee of the respective congress or conference who are present. At least 3 members are required to make a decision. If not enough members of the RC51 International Scientific Committee are present, numbers will be made up from RC51 Board members who are present at the congress or conference.

The selection committee is free not to give the award, if it deems there has been no presentation of sufficient excellence.

Along with the fact that a high quality of all papers presented in the respective events is ensured by peer-review and acceptance by the RC51 Abstracts Committee and that the concept of "didactics" itself implies communicating a contents, the rule that the selection committee is not obliged to give the award also ensures that only presentations based on high quality papers can receive it.


No costs are involved.


The award should be given once a year, either at a World Congress of Sociology or an intermediate "International Conference of Sociocybernetics" of RC51 or any similar event organized or co-organized by RC51 on Sociocybernetics.

The giving of the Award will be announced in the Call for Papers for the respective congress or conference.