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From the Standing Committee on Awards and Prizes 

The 2024 IPEd Student Prize has been awarded to Despina Cook, a student in the Graduate Certificate in Writing, Editing and Publishing program at the University of Queensland.

Despina was awarded the prize for a structural edit report of a book manuscript. The task, undertaken for the WRIT7070 Editing the Manuscript unit, comprised a 3,000 to 3,500 word structural report on one of seven manuscripts of varying genres and lengths. Despina’s choice was “The Blue Poppy Sea“, a 135,000-word novel described as a literary thriller.

The entry was submitted by course coordinator Dr Charlotte Nash-Stewart and will be published on the IPEd website in the coming weeks.

The Standing Committee on Awards and Prizes extends warm congratulations to Despina for her win and to the other highly regarded applicants who made the shortlist, Skye Kelly and Anna Ngov.

About this year’s entries

This year, the IPEd Student Prize received a set of outstanding entries from both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, all of which showed a sophisticated understanding of the profession and excellent application of editing skills.

In their report to IPEd, the judges wrote:

The field of entries ranged from portfolio assessments comprising several distinct elements and tasks, to manuscript editing projects, and essays on topics of significance to the editing profession. The judging panel found the standard of entries to be high across the range of submissions.

The shortlist

The judges selected three entries for the shortlist:

    • Despina Cook (University of Queensland – a structural report of a book manuscript)
    • Skye Kelly (Griffith University – a copyedit of a magazine article and documentation of a collaborative editorial process between author and editor)
    • Anna Ngov (University of South Australia – a portfolio assessment comprising an essay/article, a track changes edit, a PDF editing task and a written article)

What the judges said about the winning entry

The judging panel was unanimous in selecting Despina Cook’s report for the 2024 IPEd Student Prize. In their report to IPEd, the judges wrote:

The judges were impressed with the professionalism of Despina’s work. Her report was thorough and constructive, offering a nuanced assessment of the various storytelling elements such as theme, characterisation, story arc and point of view. Mechanical elements including grammar, syntax and style were addressed in a clear and methodical manner. Despina employed devices such as scene maps and text boxes to illustrate and signpost the issues the author might wish to address.

The report was thorough, demonstrating Despina’s deep engagement in the careful, painstaking process of structural editing. Clear justifications were offered where appropriate. The tone of the report was supportive, respectful and affirmative. The judges found that Despina’s report would almost certainly be valuable to the author.

The judges commend Despina Cook for her structural edit report on “The Blue Poppy Sea”. They were unanimous in their view that Despina’s work showed confidence and competence, operating at a level beyond what is expected of a student, and demonstrating the skills and ability to step into a professional editing role.

This year’s judges

The 2024 IPEd Student Prize was judged by three IPEd members: Dr Erin O’Dwyer, Dr Renée Otmar, and Dr Marcia van Zeller.

The Standing Committee on Awards and Prizes extends special thanks to the judges for generously giving their time to assess the entries, particularly as judging was conducted over the busy Christmas period.

About the IPEd Student Prize

The IPEd Student Prize acknowledges excellent work by a student of editing. It is designed to enhance the profession of editing and support student work on issues relevant to the industry.

It is awarded annually for a piece of work submitted as part of a tertiary qualification in editing, publishing or another discipline with a focus on editing.

The prize is open to any tertiary-level student enrolled in an editing or publishing course at a New Zealand or Australian tertiary institution.

Entries for the 2025 Prize will open in September 2024. More information is available at: