AGU Conflict of Interest Policy

Through AGU’s new strategic plan, we seek to create a shared vision of AGU’s future within a vibrant, worldwide Earth and space science community.  This conflict of interest policy guides the handling of conflicts of interest for award committees in the selection of the awardees; therefore, promoting the values of equality and inclusiveness, excellence and integrity in everything we do.

This policy applies to all Union Medal, Award, Prize and Fellows selection committees; and Section and Focus Group awards, and lectures.  All of these selection committees will now be referred to as “award” selection committees.  The purpose of the AGU Conflict of Interest policy is to avert, to the extent possible, biasing circumstances or the appearance of biasing circumstances in the selection of AGU honorees.

Ethical Standards

1.    Those Ineligible for Awards.  The following individuals and/or groups are not eligible to be candidates for Union honors or Section/Focus Group honors programs during their terms of service:

  • AGU President;
  • AGU President-elect;
  • Council Leadership Team members;
  • Honors and Recognition Committee members;
  • MEDAL, AWARD, PRIZE, AND LECTURE COMMITTEES: Committee members are ineligible to be candidates for their respective medal/award/prize/lecture;
  • UNION AND SECTION/FOCUS GROUP FELLOWS COMMITTEES: Union Fellows Committee members are ineligible to be Fellows candidates.  Section/Focus Group Fellows Committee members are ineligible to be candidates for consideration by their respective section/focus group.
  • FOR FELLOWS PROGRAM ONLY: In addition to the individuals listed above, Section and Focus Group presidents and president-elects are ineligible to be Fellows candidates.

2.    On the Relationship to an Award Nominee.  AGU policy on the relationship to a nominee is applicable to committee members, nominators, and supporters.

The following relationships need to be identified and communicated to selection committees, but do not disqualify from participating in the nomination or committee review process:

  • Current dean, departmental chair, supervisor, supervisee, laboratory director, an individual with whom one has a current business or financial relationship (e.g., business partner, employer, employee);
  • Research collaborator or co-author within the last three years; and/or
  • An individual working at the same institution or having accepted a position at the same institution.

The following are disqualifying:

Mentor-Mentee Relationship

  • A previous graduate (Masters or PhD) and/or postdoctoral advisor, or postdoctoral fellow may not write a nomination letter, but may write a supporting letter after five years of terminating their relationship with the nominee beginning on 1 January after the year the relationship was terminated. The only exception to this policy is that this restriction does not apply to early career awards from Section and Focus Groups.
  • A former doctoral or graduate student, or a formal postdoctoral fellow may not write a nomination letter for a former advisor, but may write a supporting letter after five years of terminating their relationship with the nominee beginning on 1 January after the year the relationship was terminated. The only exception to this policy is that this restriction does not apply to early career awards from Section and Focus Groups.
  • Chairs and members of “award” selection committees are conflicted with the above-mentioned mentor-mentee relationships and should recuse themselves from participating in the deliberation, evaluation and voting process for that particular nominee.

Termination of a relationship is defined as follows:

-Nominee no longer being paid by supported

-Nominee no longer supported under the same grant or contract

  • Nominator/supporter for this medal/award/prize/lecture/program/fellowship should not be on this selection committee
  • Family member, spouse or partner
  • President, President-elect, H&R Committee, CLT cannot nominate or support candidates.
  • FOR FELLOWS PROGRAM ONLY: In addition to the individuals listed above, Section and Focus Group presidents and president-elects cannot nominate or support Fellows candidates.

3.     Additional Conflicts.  Members of “award” selection committees may for other reasons determine that they have conflicts or potential conflicts that require elimination from service and then act on that determination if they believe that service could affect the fairness of the selection process.

4. Grandfather Clause. Holdover nominations submitted within three years (2010, 2011, and 2012) prior to the approval of the Conflict of Interest Policy (approved by Council on 15 November 2012) can be considered even if they do not adhere to the policy. Nominations submitted after 15 November 2012 must adhere to the Conflict of Interest Policy.

Disclosure and Management

  • Conflict of interest standards and implementation procedures for award committee service should be widely publicized and readily accessible to AGU members.
  • The Union President-elect and/or other appointing members of Union and Section/Focus Group award selection committees will make potential members aware of these ethical standards and the implementation procedures.
  • Committee members with a conflict of interest will inform the chair of the “award” selection committee of any potential conflicts before the nominations are reviewed.
  • Because award selection committees differ in size and number of nominations considered, the chair of the award selection committees, in consultation with the members, will determine whether the conflict is of significant magnitude to require any members to refrain either from voting, from participating in the deliberation process, or from the entire selection procedure.
  • In cases of ties in the final voting process where committees are unable to find resolution to choose the award recipient within the committee, an outside individual (i.e., former chair of Honors and Recognition Committee, former chair or member of award selection committee, many be called upon to intercede and cast the final vote.
  • If vacancies occur on the selection committees due to withdrawal of members from service as a result of a conflict of interest during their term, those vacancies should be filled promptly, the Union President or other appointing members should be prepared to appoint alternates if a vacancy arises due to a conflict.
  • Any award selection committee chair or member with questions or ambiguous circumstances should seek the advice of the Executive Office who will, where necessary, consult with the Union President and Honors and Recognition Committee Chair on this policy and its implementation.
  • If a committee member knowingly or unintentionally fails to disclose a conflict of interest and participates in the consummated selection process, he or she will not be permitted to participate in any award selection committee for a period of two years.

Timing of Policy Review:

The Honors and Recognition Committee will review the Conflict of Interest Policy every three years and revisions to the policy will be forwarded to the Council Leadership Team for approval.