- American Physical Society Sites
- Meetings & Events
- Policy & Advocacy
- Careers In Physics
- About APS
- Become a Member
Selection Committee Protocols
APS Conflict of Interest Guidelines
The process whereby recipients of APS prizes and awards are selected must both be fair, and also manifestly appear to be fair. Otherwise the value of the prize or award is diminished. It is unacceptable to present a recipient with a prize or award that has been tarnished by questionable selection procedures.
Selection committees must therefore be aware of, and respond to, issues of potential conflicts of interest. These may occur whenever there is a special relationship between a member of the committee and one of those under serious consideration for the prize or award. Such special relationships might include, among others, being at the same institution, being part of the same research group, being in a student-advisor relationship, having collaborated in the recent past on a research project, and the like.
If a member of the committee has such a conflict, he or she must reveal it to the other members, and the committee as a whole must discuss the best way to deal with it. Depending on the situation, actions to be taken might include resignation of one or more members of the committee, withdrawal of a member from parts of the committee?s deliberations and voting, deferral of a particular nomination to the next cycle, or simply complete disclosure of the nature of the conflict, so that other members can take it into account. Each committee is urged to schedule its initial meeting as early as practicable, to allow for the possibility that a serious conflict of interest might call for a change in the committee's composition.
IMPORTANT NOTE: A potential conflict of interest involving the Chair of the selection committee is ipso facto a serious matter, and at the least another committee member should take over as Chair. Depending on the circumstances, further action may be required as well.
When the conflict of interest involves someone who is recommended by that committee for an APS Prize or Award, the committee must include in its report not only the name and citation of the proposed recipient(s), and any other routine matters for the Executive Board to consider, but also a detailed account of the nature of the conflict and how the committee chose to deal with it. In particular, the committee must show that the conflict influenced neither the vote of the committee nor the deliberations leading up to the vote. In deciding whether to approve the recommendation, the Executive Board will consider whether the committee demonstrated sufficient awareness of the conflict, and acted in a manner to ensure not only that the selection process was fair but that it would be perceived as fair by reasonable members of the physics community. If the Board is not satisfied, it can ask the committee for clarification, or it can reject the recommendation and send the matter back to the committee for further action.