Guidelines to a Successful Nomination

Most nominees for an AGU honor or award are truly deserving; however, the nomination packets submitted do not always highlight the person’s work in a way that makes the impact of his or her accomplishments clear. To help you write a more successful nomination package, AGU has compiled the following list of tips for nominators:

  • Is your nominee right for the award? Does your nomination letter and supporting letters address the specific criteria for this award? Find the intent and criteria for each award and the required nomination components on the Honors Program website, or ask AGU honors staff ( or any committee member for the award. Read the criteria for each honor and award carefully. Make sure that the letters discuss why the candidate is well suited for the award goals and explicitly address the selection criteria. Explain the importance of the science/accomplishments relevant to the award and make sure that the nomination materials are tailored to the award. Include the following relevant elements, with the emphasis of each dependent on the criteria and goals of the specific award: – Science (specific papers that “changed” the field)
    – Service (unique impact, AGU service)
    – Teaching/mentoring or outreach

  • Provide a complete overview of your nominee and emphasize the unique elements of his/her accomplishments that makes your nomination stand out from others.
    • Focus on the science/service/education achievements (depending on goal of the award), the impact, novelty, creativity, depth and breadth of the nominee’s research rather than quantitative metrics (number of publications, h-factor, etc.) and biographical facts (education, employment history, awards) that are listed in the nominee’s CV.
    • Mention other accolades (e.g., National Academy membership; other forms of recognition). Distinguish and highlight the role of the nominee (is the nominee a motivator/leader/implementer?).
    • Mention relation to co-workers (students, postdoc, mentor, etc.). If the nominee has a large research group, highlight the intellectual contributions made by the individual to the work. Also, mention the success of coworkers the nominee has influenced (students, postdocs, and adjunct faculty).
    • For science medals and fellows, focus on transformational science documented by specific publications and how they might have changed the course of research in the field. Link to specific papers in a bibliography or on the CV and discuss why they are important. Always support with evidence for each criterion.
    • Emphasize service to AGU and the science community and contribution to education. These can be important tie breakers.
    • Check the list of previous winners and identify what they have in common with your nominee.
  • Submit a concise, well-written nomination packet.
    • Follow the nomination requirements (e.g., number of pages, format, CV, bibliography, etc.).
    • Submit objective information to support statements made by colleagues whenever possible. Avoid the phrase “I know of no one else more deserving of this award.”
  • Solicit strong support from others that will strengthen the nomination.
    • Summarize the qualifications of the letter writers.
    • Present the supporting evidence in the letters in a way that educates or informs the committee members (who may otherwise not be knowledgeable about the candidate). Know the fields of the reviewing committee members. Will the write-ups of your seismologist candidate be understood by an oceanographer panelist?
    • There should be a diversity of supporters with regard to institutional affiliations, discipline or sub-discipline, or career stage. In other words, it should be clear that the nomination is not only coming from people within a single university or institution who are trying to advance one of their own, but rather that the nominee has had influence broadly in his/her scientific community.
  • If at first you don’t succeed….resubmit! Many excellent submissions are received annually and the pool of nominations can be competitive. Solicit feedback from the selection committee. As long as your nominee meets the criteria of the honor, review and update the submission for the following cycle and resubmit.