Changes for 2019
In developing the AWG’s approach to the awards portfolio, we need to be mindful of various types of legislation. For example, this year we have revised the conditions of eligibility for our early and mid-career awards and prizes, both to encourage nominations on behalf of those who have taken career breaks and also to try to define career stage better – placing emphasis on the number of years of professional experience in preference to age.
We also thought that it might be nice to ensure that those who are being nominated are told (it is not always the case that they know), both to introduce an element of transparency and also as a supportive gesture to those who might otherwise not have known. Finally, all judges will be required to undertake formal unconscious bias training every year before receiving the nominations.
The nomination process
The first thing to say is that any Royal Society of Chemistry member at any career stage can make a nomination. Of course, writing your first nomination can appear a daunting prospect, but one small encouragement may be the fact that those judging the nominations do not get to find out who the nominator is. So however elegant (or not) your prose may be, no-one knows the identity of the author, which also helps cut down on possible unconscious bias.
So if you do decide to make a nomination, think of the audience for whom you are writing. If it’s a divisional prize or award, then the judging panel will be made up of specialists in that general area – the membership of all these panels is publicly available – so a certain amount of quite subject-specific vocabulary may be appropriate. However, if the AWG is judging the prize (i.e. the Centenary, Tilden, Interdisciplinary, Corday-Morgan, Harrison-Meldola Memorial, Longstaff and Lord Lewis prizes), then the judges are division representatives plus me as chair. In this case, deeply technical nominations are less appropriate and those that give a bigger picture will be better received. This is important as – except in cases of conflict of interest – all judges score all of the nominations.
There is no doubt that receiving one of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s prizes and awards is an excellent way to get recognition for what you do, and is likely to be of help to your career. It can be a positive experience for the nominator as well. Over the years I have been involved in several nominations – my first as a young senior lecturer – and there is great satisfaction in seeing someone you nominate being successful. You can help a fellow chemist and that has to be worth doing.