Research Papers

2016 Research Paper Competition

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Every year, the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Research Paper Competition brings exciting and innovative insight and changes to the way we analyze sports. With submissions on topics ranging from the spelling bee to rugby, basketball, and more, we represent the largest forum for groundbreaking research in sports. The Research Paper Competition is an incredible opportunity to reach a diverse audience while still contributing to the advancement of analytics in sports.

Previous year’s top papers were featured on top media outlets through the world, and captured the attention of representatives from numerous professional sports teams. Abstract submission for the 2016 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Research Paper Competition is now closed.


Wed. 10/7 11:59pmAbstract submission due
Mon. 10/26 11:59pmFull paper requests submitted
Mon. 12/14 11:59pmFull paper submissions due (if selected)
Mon. 2/8 11:59pmFinalists and posters announced
Fri. 2/26 11:59pmSubmission of poster (if selected)
Fri. 3/4 11:59pmSubmission of presentation (if selected)
3/11 - 3/12Conference presentations (if selected)

Sports Tracks

Based on abstract content, all submissions will be entered into one of following Sports Tracks:
Basketball – All submissions related to the sport of basketball
Baseball – All submissions related to the sport of baseball
Other Sports –  All submissions related to the playing of a sport that is not basketball or baseball
Business of Sports – Submissions related to the business of owning, managing, or marketing a sport, or to new technology or ideas which could change the face of sports

Competition Format

The competition consists of the following phases:
1. Abstract Phase
Authors submit abstracts. Based on the judged merits of their abstract submissions, a select group of authors will be invited to submit full manuscripts.

2. Full Manuscript Phase
Invited authors submit full manuscripts. Referees will evaluate every manuscript, and authors of the best submissions will be invited to present their findings at the conference. The referees will also select a set of authors who will be invited to their present their work during a poster session.

3. Conference Phase I
a. Poster Competition
All posters selected for the conference will be entered into a competition for Best Poster, determined by a fan vote during the weekend of the conference. Note: this competition is independent of the presentation finals, and none of the posters will advance to the presentation finals.
b. Presentations
Invited authors will present their findings during the first day of the conference. Based on the quality of the presentation and manuscript, one submission per Sports Track will be selected as the track winner, and will advance to the finals.

4. Conference Phase II – Finals
Finalists will present again during day two of conference in front of an industry panel of experts.

Abstract Guidelines

Abstract submissions should be submitted online, and must use the following guidelines:
• Abstracts must contain fewer than 500 words, including title and body.
• Abstracts may include up to two tables or figures combined (e.g. 1 figure and 1 table, or 2 tables)
• Each abstract should contain the following sections:
– Introduction – What question is this research trying to answer? Why is it an important question for the industry?
– Methods – Description of relevant statistical methods used, including data sources or data collection procedures
– Results – Description of actual (not promised) results along with relevant statistics
– Conclusion – The overall takeaway from the study, including how the results will impact the sports industry
• All abstracts must be submitted in one PDF through the 2016 Abstract Submission online submission page

Evaluation of Submissions

The conference seeks submissions that report research pertaining to the use of analytics in the sports industry. We are open to contributions ranging from evaluating players and game strategies, to examining the success factors for sports business.
In the abstract and full paper submission process, research will be evaluated on but not necessarily limited to the following criteria:
Novelty of research – Does the research provide interesting insight into new models or challenge existing beliefs?
Academic rigor / validity of model – Are the methodologies of the model and results fundamentally sound and appropriate?
Reproducibility – Can the model and results be replicated independently?

In evaluating presentation finalists at the 2016 SSAC, the above factors will be supplemented by the following criteria, as judged by a panel of academics, industry executives from team management and sports business operations:
Application – What are the applications or potential applications of the insights from the research?
Interest / impact – Is there significant interest in the proposed question in the field of study or the community at large? What are the benefits or impact of the model or application?

The Research Papers team will review all abstracts. The Review Committee will evaluate all manuscript submissions. The review committee consists of the Research Paper team, as well as academic professors and experts from top universities in fields including Statistics, Information Sciences, and Economics. The industry panel that makes the final winner selection will make its decision on the basis of the paper and the presentation at the 2016 Conference.
NOTE: Papers that have been previously published elsewhere are not eligible for the competition.

Conflict of Interest Policy

Our objective is to ensure an unbiased evaluation of submissions throughout the process. We are aware that members of the evaluation committee may have had relationships with authors who have submitted papers. When possible, potential conflicts of interest are avoided by minimizing the review of research by the following:
• Authors who have collaborated with the reviewer on previous submissions
• Current or former students who worked with the reviewer
• Colleagues from the same organization
• Any other previous relationships with the author that may prevent an unbiased evaluation of the paper

All potential conflicts of interest will be managed as best as possible while still maintaining the quality of the review process. Final reviews will occur without knowledge of the names of the authors.

Rights and Permissions

All authors retain ownership rights to the research and the right to publish the research after the conference. Upon submission, authors grant access to 42 Analytics to make their research available for public viewing online, in print, and for conference use for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
Authors are responsible for obtaining permission from third parties to reprint copyrighted information such as data, tables, or figures that may be protected by copyright.

2015 Research Paper Finalists

The 2015 Research Papers selected to present at the Conference are listed below.