For Selection Committees
Guidelines for Selection Committees
SIAM wishes to ensure a welcoming environment in all its activities, including prize selection committees.
Statement on Inclusiveness
As a professional society, SIAM is committed to providing an inclusive climate that encourages the open expression and exchange of ideas, that is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and that is welcoming and comfortable to all members and to those who participate in its activities. In pursuit of that commitment, SIAM is dedicated to the philosophy of equality of opportunity and treatment for all participants regardless of gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion or religious belief, age, marital status, disabilities, veteran status, field of expertise, or any other reason not related to scientific merit. This philosophy extends from SIAM conferences, to its publications, and to its governing structures and bodies. We expect all members of SIAM and participants in SIAM activities to work towards this commitment.
Diversity in recognition gives visible evidence of SIAM’s commitment to equity and inclusion. While selection committees strive for fairness in selecting winners based on established criteria, studies have shown that unconscious, unintentional assumptions can sometimes influence judgment -- this is the problem of implicit bias.
Generally, selection committees should strive to choose the best nomination package from among those submitted to SIAM – the one that best fulfills the stated purpose of the prize as listed in the prize description/principle guideline.
In order to do this, the prize selection committee chair should ensure that every committee member’s voice is heard; and budget adequate time to make a decision while moderating selection discussions to include all members. Studies show that implicit bias is lessened when committees have time for thoughtful reflection and discussion.
Selecting Recipients (for all Selection Committee Members)
SIAM Prizes are established to highlight the best work in our community. They are intended to recognize individual achievement and to showcase the work of our community to the outside world.
Various SIAM Prizes have been established each with a different purpose or demographic - for senior researchers (lifetime achievement), for mid-career researchers, early career researchers, or students.
The following guidelines augment, but do not supersede, existing prize specifications.
- Discuss the process and criteria that will be used to evaluate nominees before reviewing nominations. The committee should agree what criteria are considered and which of those is most important before any member reviews any nominations. Research has shown that implicit bias can enter via unintentional “criteria-shifting” after nominees are discussed.
- Committees should consider carefully the purpose and intent of the prize and measure the nominations against the purpose listed in the prize specifications. The selection committee should take care to not simply choose from names of nominees known to the committee members.
- Use a random ordering for rating and discussing nominees. Presentation bias is a real phenomenon, and nominees evaluated or discussed earlier get much more attention. Shortcuts happen as the brain tires. Each committee member should use a random ordering to evaluate applications, and the random ordering should be unique to each committee member. This means, ideally, that every applicant gets seen early by some committee members and later by others. Likewise, candidates should be discussed in random order.
- Each committee member should make a personal list of top nominees before hearing the recommendations of any other members. This avoids the undue influence of one member and ensures that the list of viable nominees is as large as possible before discussion begins.
- Private evaluations and ranking. Committee members should never share their individual rankings. The committee should only be shown cumulative rankings so that the votes of any individual are not known to the group during the decision-making process. This process prevents “social loafing” - following the voting of others on the committee.
- Conduct rounds of voting with brief structured exchanges in between. The committee members should influence each other, but care should be taken to avoid situations where any subgroup or single person has more opportunity than another to do so. Likewise, every nominee should get equal attention in each round of discussions. To facilitate this process, a round of discussion could work as follows.
1. A random ordering of the candidates to be discussed is compiled by the committee chair, and the nominees are discussed in this order.
2. For each nominee, a new random ordering of the committee members is generated, and the committee members speak in this order.
3. Each committee member speaks for up to a fixed amount of time, say 30 seconds, per nominee.
4. The committee member should list at least one positive and one negative about the nominee.
5. The committee member should not reveal anything about his or her specific rankings, but this does not mean that they cannot be specific in the criticism or praise. They should not follow through with saying where this puts the nominee in their ranked list.
6. At the end of the structured exchange, a (new) vote is taken, and cumulative results shared with the committee.
7. This process can repeat until consensus, optionally culling the list at each iteration. Any culling cutoffs should ideally be determined in advance of the voting.
8. Time for reconsideration in between rounds of voting is useful.
- Look for hidden gems. Pay special attention to suggestions from atypical sources. Some department chairs have lots of experience and are pros at writing letters of recommendation; others are not. Take the time to look carefully at every nomination. Individuals have made considerable effort to generate a nomination package. Each package should receive a suitable discussion of its merits and/or weaknesses.
- Strongly consider nominees who have never won an award before. Award programs have the greatest benefit when they recognize a broad group of people. When a single individual who wins an award has already been recognized with one or more previous major awards, fewer people benefit from the program as it denies the chance for others and their work to gain recognition.
- Create short lists via inclusive rather than exclusive methods. For instance, select candidates that are outstanding, rather than finding reasons to eliminate candidates from consideration.
- The selection committee is required to discuss the nominees before making a final decision. Selection cannot be handled fully via email or through algorithms without discussion. Discussions should be open to all selection committee members. Any discussions of prize nominations/selections should be at a meeting set in advance (most likely a teleconference) with all invited to participate. Exceptions can be made for conflicts of interest.
- Ensure that every committee member’s voice is heard. Do not let any committee member remain silent.
- Take adequate time to make a decision. Research has shown implicit bias is mitigated when committees have time for thoughtful reflection and discussion, instead of making snap judgments.
- Avoid potential conflicts of interest. Often candidates are so well-known that associations with selection committee members are unavoidable. In all discussions, members should make clear any connection they may have with a person under consideration and recuse themselves if appropriate.
- If an award specification states that the award shall be given to a single winner, then multiple recipients will not be approved by SIAM. If the vote is tied, the committee chair’s vote will be the tiebreaker.
- All committee members should agree, at the end, that the nomination selected for the prize is a fair representation and was chosen in a proper manner (even if a minority voted for another package as the first choice).If a committee member must be removed from a committee due to a conflict of interest, the committee position should be filled with a new member meeting the same technical and demographic profile as the original member where possible.
Any SIAM-sponsored prize (including SIAM Activity Group Prizes) which receives less than three new nominations to an open call for nominations will not be awarded in that cycle. In the case that the prize is skipped for one cycle, any nominations that were received and remain eligible will be carried over the next cycle. More information can be found in SIAM's Prize Policy.
Previous nominations will roll over for one cycle when it makes sense to do so. For example, it makes sense to roll over a nomination for a lifetime achievement award but not for a best dissertation prize (since there is a small window of eligibility in the latter case). This is a SIAM policy decision and not the decision of the selection committee or its chair. The SIAM office will include the rolled-over nominations in the packages of nominations that it distributes to the committee.
The membership of the prize committee will be made public at the time of the announcement of the call for nominations. Members of the prize committee are not eligible for nomination or allowed to submit nominations.
Informing SIAM of the Committee’s Outcome
The selection committee chair should send the final selection to SIAM HQ (SIAM Prize Program at [email protected]), along with:
- Name of prize winner selected.
- Citation of about 100 words that may be read at the time of the award.
- Brief citation (for prize certificate).
- Justification (a short report on the committee's deliberations that justifies the recommendation)
- Description of the process used for selection including how conflicts of interest were handled and what was done to lessen effects of implicit bias
The following is intended as a set of guidelines for members and chairs of prize committees who are charged to select a prize recipient from among a set of nominations.
A selection committee should avoid favoritism or the appearance of favoritism. After the prize closes for nominations, each member of a prize selection committee will be granted access to the SIAM Prize Portal where they will be able to view all nominations. The committee member will then be asked to read the following prize guidelines and to certify via email whether or not a conflict exists with one or more of the nominees.
Members may be asked to recuse themselves from certain discussions or to step down from the committee if their participation creates a conflict of interest or might create an appearance of a conflict of interest.
Conflicts of interest, or the appearance of such conflicts, would most likely arise if one or more of the following conditions hold:
- The body of work (paper, significant piece of research, or the like) considered in the prize nomination was done by someone while a student or postdoc of the committee member.
- The person nominated is a current or former student or current or recent (within five years) postdoc of the committee member; or, conversely, the person nominated is or has been a thesis adviser or postgraduate-scholar sponsor of the committee member.
- The research being judged is in any way a collaborative effort between the committee member and the nominee.
- The committee member has a close personal or family relationship with a nominee (for example: close friend, (domestic) partner, ex-(domestic) partner).
- The committee member is currently at the same institution as one of the nominees or is a recent (within five years), current, or (known to be) future department colleague of a nominee.
- The committee member is a major co-author with a nominee on a paper published within the past three years or the committee member has been a co-investigator with a nominee on a large research grant in the last three years.
- The committee member has financial ties via a direct chain of command and/or participation in tenure, promotion, salary, or forms of support by either party.
No list can cover all circumstances. Selection Committee chairs and individual members need to consider the spirit of these guidelines and report anything that might appear to be a conflict of interest.
The existence of a conflict should be reported to SIAM. If there is a question about whether or not there is a conflict, report the potential conflict and the circumstances. The SIAM President (Major Awards) or Vice President-at-Large (Activity Group Prizes) will make the appropriate judgment on whether a true conflict of interest exists and make a determination about the severity of the conflict or its appearance.
If there does appear to be a conflict, the committee member may be asked to step down from the selection committee. In less severe cases, the committee member may be asked to refrain from participating in any committee discussions until the conflicting nomination is no longer under consideration.
It will be up to the President (Major Awards) and Vice President-at-Large (Activity Group Prizes) to decide whether to make new appointments to the prize selection committee should a committee member be required to step down. In no case should the prize selection committee be composed of fewer than three deliberating members.
Approved by the SIAM Major Awards Committee and by the SIAM Council, July 2017
Selection Committee Procedures and Roles
The Role of Selection Committee Chair
- The chair sets the rules, reminds members of their obligations, and takes the votes. The chair is also a voting member of the selection committee.
- The chair ensures that confidentiality is maintained in order to facilitate a free and open discussion.
- The voting procedures are left to the discretion of the chair.
- The chair ensures that conflict of interest rules are followed.
- The chair is responsible for providing a short report on the committee's deliberations that justifies the recommendation, as well as the citation and any other information needed for the certificate. This task can be delegated by the chair to another member, but the chair retains responsibility. These will be forwarded to the officers approving the recommendation.
- The chair keeps the SIAM office informed.
Role of Committee Members
- Committee members should share all information with the other committee members. It is the responsibility of each committee member to inform the chair of any potential conflict of interest.
- Each committee member is responsible for providing a fair and informed vote. This requires the member to read all nomination packages assigned by the chair.
Role of SIAM Office
The SIAM office is generally responsible for administration procedures related to prizes. It will:
- Promote the prize through call for nominations emails and other media channels.
- Maintain a prize calendar and ensure that calls for nomination, and formation and charging of prize committees is carried out in a timely manner.
- Open the call for nominations in late spring and publicize it with a poster inserted in SIAM News.
- Send a call for nominations out to other organizations (e.g., NA-Digest, AMS) as appropriate.
- Set the dates in consultation with the chair.
- Collect nominations.
- Make nomination packages available to committee.
- Collect the decision package from the committee chair (including justification) and forward it to the appropriate individual/body for approval.
- Inform the winner and arrange for the lecture, if there is a lecture associated with the prize.
- Arrange that any medals, certificates, or plaques (as appropriate for a given prize) are created.
- Prepare the prize brochure, press releases, and announcements for public dissemination.
Rules for Multiple Prize Winners
SIAM encourages all recipients of SIAM Prizes to attend the meetings at which their prizes will be awarded. When multiple winners are chosen for a single SIAM prize, the monetary award will be divided equally among the recipients. Reimbursement of travel expenses to attend the award ceremony will normally be limited to a maximum of $1,500 for any one prize. Meeting registration for award recipients at the SIAM meeting where the award is presented will be waived.
Approved the SIAM Board of Trustees