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Guidance for Royal Society Te Apārangi medal and award selection panels

Guidelines for selection panels for the Society's medals and awards.

Panel composition

The Panel will be drawn from experienced researchers in appropriate fields from the Society’s Fellowship, Companions, or previous medal winners. Appointments are made on a year-by-year basis for each calendar year.

In considering the suitability of potential panellists, the following requirements for panel composition are taken into account, as appropriate:

  • mix of discipline expertise
  • institutional balance
  • geographic representation
  • diversity/gender/ethnicity balance
  • avoidance of conflict of interest
  • include the Academy Executive Committee Chair, the Society President, and Prime Minister’s Chief Scientific advisor, as appropriate.

Panellists are approved by the President, Chair of the Academy Executive Committee of Royal Society Te Apārangi, or Academy Executive Committee Domain Convenors, as appropriate, based on the recommendation of the Academy Executive Officer.

Conflicts of interest

It is recognised that occasionally members of the selection panel will know applicants or have other conflicts of interest. They will be expected to declare all such knowledge and conflicts of interest, which will be shared with the Panel. In cases where there is a Conflict of Interest, the Chair of the selection panel will rule if this conflict is significant enough for the panellist to be stood down from the panel for that entry. (In the case of the Chair having a conflict of interest the decision will be made by another member of the panel who has been identified in this role at the beginning of the process).

A panel member is generally deemed to be conflicted if:

  • They work in the same department as the applicant(s). Where the department is large and contact between the panel member and applicant(s) is minimal, the convenor may deem there to be no conflict.
  • They work at the same Crown Research Institute (CRI) AND are in the same team as the applicant(s) (the level of conflict will depend on the size of the organisation).
  • They work at the same company as the applicant(s). The level of conflict will depend on the size of the company.
  • They have co-authored publications with the applicant(s) in the last 5 years.
  • They are a nominator or referee of the nominee
  • They have a low level of comfort assessing the application due to their relationship with the applicant(s).

Decision making

Panel scoring is shared with the Panel members and a discussion Zoom meeting will be held to make the final decision. For those nominations considered by the majority of panelists to have reached the necessary standard, the following options for making a decision will apply:

  • For the Rutherford Medal, if a clear-cut winner has been identified by almost all Panel members, the Panel Chair will call a Zoom discussion to agree the winner. For other Society medals and awards, if a clear-cut winner has been identified by almost all Panel members, agreement by the Panel can be sought by email.
  • If a clear-cut winner has been identified, but to ensure that winner is of sufficient standard, at least two further independent referees may be contacted prior to calling a Zoom discussion to agree the winner.
  • If there is a close scoring between 2 candidates, and there is no need to seek further information to verify the standard or improve understanding of the applicants, the Panel Chair will call a Zoom discussion to agree the winner.
  • If there is a close call between 2 candidates, and the Panel Chair considers that independent referee statements should be sought for these candidates to assist a final decision, then at least two further independent referees for these candidates can be contacted prior to finalising selection of the winner, and hold a zoom discussion to agree the winner.


Royal Society Te Apārangi has obligations under the Privacy Act to keep confidential certain information provided by individuals. Moreover, the records of deliberations by the panels are regarded as strictly confidential, as are the contents of unsuccessful applications.

  • The contents and ideas contained in the proposals are strictly confidential. The nomination material must not be used for any purpose other than assessment of the nomination.
  • Panel members must ensure the safekeeping of all nominations and related confidential documents. Access to electronic information must be password protected and not accessible by any other person.
  • Ideally, documents should not be printed unless it is impractical to read directly from a laptop or tablet.
  • Hard copy documents must be secured (for example: in locked case) so they are not accessible to any other person.
  • All hard and soft copies of proposals and related information must be securely destroyed once the assessment process is completed