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The Institute of Internal Auditors North AmericaBreadcrumb SeparatorAbout UsBreadcrumb SeparatorEsther R Sawyer Research Award

​Esther R. Sawyer Research Award

The annual Esther R. Sawyer Research Award from The IIA Research Foundation is granted to an individual currently enrolled as of September 1, 2014 in an undergraduate or graduate level program in internal auditing at an Internal Auditing Education Partnership (IAEP) university. Individuals who were enrolled as of September 1, 2014 but have completed their course work in an internal auditing program at an IAEP university by March 30, 2015 are also welcome to participate. The award is based on submission of an original manuscript on a specific topic related to modern internal auditing. The award includes:

  • US $5,000 to the recipient.
  • US $3,000 to the IIA-endorsed school with which the student is affiliated.
  • Registration and travel expenses for the recipient to attend The IIA International Conference.

Submissions are due by March 1, 2015. The Award Committee notified IAEP universities of the selected essay topic at the IAEP Leadership Retreat in September 2014.

2015 Competition Topic

One of The IIA's strategic initiatives is Advocacy of the profession. Advocacy means promoting the profession of internal auditing by “instilling pride in the profession, encouraging change, and building relationships with organizations and key stakeholders that impact the profession globally.” To become better advocates for the profession, we need a clear understanding of how advocacy efforts impact constituents of the profession, how to represent the profession to constituents, and how best to convey the message in the most clear and expeditious manner. In particular, we need to consider the following specific questions:

  • What does Advocacy mean to students, practitioners, and other stakeholders?
  • Which regulating bodies and listing organizations across the world have requirements for the presence of internal auditing and recognize a requirement to follow The IIA's Standards?
  • What methods are used to effectively advocate for a profession and how can these methods best be used for the internal audit profession?
  • How should advocacy initiatives be prioritized by The IIA to provide the greatest impact?


The IIA Research Foundation Board of Trustees established this award in June 2000 as a tribute to the memory of Esther R. Sawyer and her contributions to and support of the profession of internal auditing. The award was funded through a generous contribution to The IIA Research Foundation by the Sawyer family. Although Esther Sawyer was not an internal auditor, she was a gracious ambassador who enjoyed explaining the role of modern internal auditing to those she met. She also edited manuscripts, speeches, and textbooks on the subject. She was an advocate for internal audit curricula in colleges and universities and promoted internal auditing as a lifetime career.


The Award will be granted to an individual who meets the following criteria:

  • Participation in an IIA IAEP school:
    • The candidate is taking internal audit courses at the undergraduate level at an IIA IAEP university, or
    • The candidate is enrolled in a graduate program in internal auditing, accounting, or business and taking courses in internal auditing at an IIA IAEP university, or
    • The candidate has completed his/her course work in an internal auditing program at an IAEP university before March 30 of the submission year.
  • The candidate has written and submitted an original manuscript of 3,000 to 5,000 words on a specific topic related to modern internal auditing. This topic will be announced annually by the Award Committee.
  • Prior recipients of the award are not eligible.

Nature of the Award

The award will be presented at The IIA's annual International Conference.

  • The First Place recipient will receive US $5,000 and a suitably inscribed plaque. The winner's name will also be inscribed on a permanent plaque at IIA Global Headquarters.
  • US $3,000 will be awarded to the IAEP program with which the student is or was affiliated. The funds must be used in the IAEP program or for the purchase of materials related to internal auditing.
  • Reasonable travel expenses incurred by the student to attend and registration to the International Conference will be paid to the recipient. No monetary compensation other than the award will be offered to the recipient should he/she be unable to attend the International Conference.
  • The chosen manuscript will be published on The IIA Research Foundation website and may be submitted to Internal Auditor magazine to be considered for publication.


The award will be funded through distributions from a restricted fund of The IIA Research Foundation. US $5,000 will be granted to the student, plus reimbursement of reasonable travel and registration expenses to the conference at which the award is presented. The amount to the school will be US $3,000. Future years awards are based on the earnings of the fund.

Award Committee

  • The Award Committee will consist of a chairman and at least three members. The chairman will be the chairman of The IIA Academic Relations Committee (ARC). The members will be equally divided between the three committees, the Academic Relations Committee, the Communications Advisory Committee (PAC), and the IIARF Committee of Research and Education Advisors (CREA). Members will be selected by the chairman of each committee.
  • The Award Committee will select the essay topic by August 15th each year and publicize it to the IAEP schools and other interested parties.
  • Committee members and the chairman must not be involved in any capacity with any IAEP school from which submissions have been received. In the event of a conflict involving the committee chairman, the president of the Board of Trustees will appoint a replacement.
  • The IIARF Board of Trustees will be responsible for overseeing the administration of the award fund, and will work with the Award Committee.

Submission Requirements and Rules

Submissions will be due on March 1 of each year. An e-mail from the IAEP coordinator must accompany the submission. One e-mail per university verifying student eligibility of all students submitting papers is acceptable.

  • Entries will be judged based on the following criteria:
    • Responsiveness to the assigned research topic
    • Relevance to readers who are familiar with internal audit issues
    • Originality
    • Coherent organization and clarity
    • Conciseness and focus
    • Appropriate application of English
  • Entries must follow the style and formatting requirements outlined in The IIARF's Guide for Writers. Work of other authors must be cited appropriately in the manuscript or footnotes and/or written permissions acquired to use copyrighted material. Failure to appropriately cite sources will result in disqualification of the submission.
  • Submissions must not refer to schools or professors except for on the author page.
  • There is no obligation to make the award in any year.

Submission Requirements and Rules: Educator Involvement

  • The level of Educator / IAEP Coordinator involvement with a student researcher should not have direct influence on the researcher’s project. Student researchers must work independently. This is to maintain a level of program independence. Educators should not provide specific direction on how to research the published topic or critique of the research papers.
  • The Award Committee agreed to move forward the date for release of future Award topics to August 15th to coordinate with the beginning of the new school year. To remain consistent with the request that educators should not critique the research papers, the topic should not be included as required coursework.

Please submit applications to be received by IIARF by March 1 of each year to

For more information, please e-mail or fax +1-407-937-1101.

Previous Award Winners

​View previous award winners and their papers