Thursday, March 21, 2013

How to write an unsuccessful letter of nomination for an award

The following piece of text has been going through my head since the meeting of an award committee I attended earlier this week. I had to get rid of it by writing it down. So here it is, for your reading pleasure. I thought that it was best to choose a "How to have your abstract rejected" style for this piece.

You have just seen the call for nominations for an award and you have an excellent candidate for this accolade in mind. The call for nominations asks for a letter of nomination and gives some criteria that a nominee for the award should satisfy. How can you increase the chances that your nomination will be unsuccessful? The aim of this short piece is to present some simple approaches that are guaranteed to increase the chances that your nomination will be unsuccessful, even if you were nominating Albert Einstein for the Relativity Award 2013.

The first step in ensuring lack of success of a nomination is not to read the guidelines in the call for nominations. This will make it highly likely that your letter will not address at least some of the criteria that a good nomination should have. However, this leaves open the possibility that, by chance, your letter of nomination address some of the most important criteria for nominating your candidate. The best approach to prevent this from happening is to be systematic. Do read the call for nominations and make sure that you avoid addressing each of the criteria listed there. For example, if the call asks for (a link to) a CV, do not provide any!

However, the systematic approach requires precious time, effort and organization. Isn't there a better way to achieve your goal of submitting an unsuccessful nomination without sweating too much? Indeed there is! The perfect, no-sweat unsuccessful letter of nomination is a one liner that reads:

I nominate X for award Y. Best regards, Z
Submitting this letter template, which you should feel free to reuse, will strongly indicate to the award committee that is in charge of evaluating the nominations and of selecting the award recipient(s)
  1. that you really do not know why the nominee deserves the award, and
  2. that you are not willing to invest any time and effort in finding out why the nominee is worthy of the honour and in convincing the committee that (s)he is the one to select.
Is there a better way of achieving your goal? If so, I should really like to know.


Alex Best said...

For an even better way, what about:
I nominate X for award Y. Best regards, X

Luca Aceto said...

Indeed :-) I was working under the assumption that self nominations were not allowed.