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Fransje Molenaar wins Jaarprijs Politicologie 2018

Fransje Molenaar, who defended her dissertation at the Institute of Political Science (Leiden University) in September 2017, has been awarded the Jaarprijs Politicologie. Out of 66 entries from Flanders and The Netherlands, her study of party legislation in Latin America made the biggest impression on the jury: ‘A big topic and appeal beyond subject specialists. Ambitious, but also meticulous.’

66 dissertations: a record

The ‘Jaarprijs Politicologie’, or the award for the Best Doctoral Dissertation in Political Science defended in the previous year, is extended every year. The competition includes dissertations defended in the Netherlands or in Flanders and dissertations of Dutch or Flemish PhD students defended at a foreign university.

Th 2018 longlist consisted of no fewer than 66 doctoral dissertations, which is a record. The jury, chaired by Professor Steven Van De Walle (KU Leuven), had a hard time picking a winner. The jury members—Marcel Boogers (Universiteit Twente), Pauline Ketelaars (Universiteit Antwerpen), Paul Pennings (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and Aneta Spendzharova (Universiteit Maastricht)—‘got jealous about the contenders’ innovative methods, their data, their clever approaches, or their great writing skills.’

Three criteria were considered in the evaluation: theoretical scrutiny, the quality of the (empirical) research, and the contribution the dissertation makes to political science at large. However, ‘a prize-winning dissertation should not just have a good design. It should also address a big topic and appeal beyond subject specialists. It should be ambitious, but also meticulous.’

Fransje Molenaar
Fransje Molenaar (NEMO Kennislink)

Theoretical and empirical integration

At the end of the day, this applied most to Molenaar’s Changing the Rules of the Game: The Development and Reform of Party Law in Latin America: ‘This dissertation offers theoretical and empirical integration, by applying existing theories, but also by developing new theory. Its comparative approach offers scholars in the field a comprehensive resource for studying developments in party law and party organisations in Latin America.’


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