AGU Conflict of Interest Policy



Concomitant with the 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.

All AGU volunteers are asked to comply with the Union COI policy and process. The COI policy outlined below provides further details for all volunteers involved in the Honors Program.

This conflict of interest policy applies to all selection committees of Union Medals, Fellows, Awards, and Prizes, as well as Section award and lecture selection committees. It 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.

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. AGU members holding the following leadership positions at the Union or Section levels are not eligible to be candidates for certain awards or honors during their terms of service:

    • AGU President;
    • AGU President-elect;
    • Council Leadership Team (CLT) members;
    • Honors and Recognition (H&R) Committee members;
    • All full-time staff of AGU
  • MEDAL, AWARD, PRIZE, AND LECTURE COMMITTEES: Committee members are ineligible to be candidates for their respective medal/award/prize.
  • UNION AND SECTION FELLOWS COMMITTEES (FOR FELLOWS PROGRAM ONLY): Union Fellows Committee members are ineligible to be Fellows candidates. Section presidents and president-elects are ineligible to be candidates for Fellow. Section Fellows Committee members are ineligible to be candidates for consideration by their respective section. However, they can be reviewed for consideration by other sections.
  • Elected Section officers (Presidents, President-elects and Secretaries) are ineligible to be nominated for their respective Section honor(s) during their term of service.
  • Section Past Presidents are ineligible to be nominated for their respective Section honors for one year after completion of their term as Section President.

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

2a. The following relationships need to be acknowledged and communicated to selection committees, but do not disqualify the individual from participating in the nomination or committee review process:

  • Candidate’s 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.

2b. The following offices and relationships are nomination disqualifiers:

  • President, President-elect, H&R Committee, CLT, AGU staff, cannot nominate or write support letters for candidates.
  • Nominator/supporter for this medal/award/prize/lecture/program/fellowship should not be on this selection committee
  • FOR FELLOWS PROGRAM ONLY: In addition to the individuals listed above, Section presidents and president-elects cannot nominate or support Fellows candidates.
  • Family member, spouse or partner
  • Mentor-Mentee relationships established during graduate studies or postdoc fellowships
  • 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 formal relationship with the nominee beginning on 1 January after the year the formal relationship was terminated. The only exception to this policy is that this restriction does not apply to early-career awards from section and the Union Science for Solutions Award.
  • In addition, a former doctoral or graduate student, or a former 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 Sections .

Termination of a relationship is defined as follows:

nominee no longer being paid by supporter

nominee no longer supported under the same grant or contract

  • 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.
  1. Additional Conflicts.
  • Chairs of “award” selection committees who are supervisors of nominees are conflicted from participating in the review and selection process.
  • 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.

Disclosure and Management

  1. Conflict of interest standards and implementation procedures for award committee service should be widely publicized and readily accessible to AGU members.
  2. The Union President-elect and/or other appointing members of Union and Section award selection committees will make potential members aware of these ethical standards and the implementation procedures.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Any award selection committee chair or member with questions or ambiguous circumstances should seek the advice of the Executive Officer who will, where necessary, consult with the Union President and Honors and Recognition Committee Chair on this policy and its implementation.
  7. 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 will be forwarded to the Council Leadership Team for approval.