Call for nominations: ISC Awards Programme

The International Science Council (ISC) is seeking nominations for the first edition of the ISC Awards Programme.

ISC Members, affiliated bodies and partners are invited to nominate outstanding individuals or groups of individuals from diverse backgrounds – including scientists, science policy-makers and other people belonging to the scientific community – who contribute to the promotion of science as a global public good for the ISC Awards Programme 2021 in the following categories:

1. Science for Sustainability Award for outstanding scientific contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals using an interdisciplinary approach (one award)

2. Science-for-Policy Award for outstanding contribution to stimulation of, support for or communication of the findings of international scientific research and scholarship relevant to international policy challenges (one award)

3. Policy-for-Science Award for outstanding contribution to developments in the science system that enable science to contribute more effectively to major debates in the international domain (one award)

4. Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award for outstanding contribution to defending and promoting the free and responsible practice of science (one award)

5. Early Career Scientist Award for exceptional contribution to science and international scientific collaboration by early career researchers (six awards: one award to a scientist from each of (i) Africa, (ii) Asia, (iii) Australia and Oceania, (iv) Europe, (v) North America, and (vi) South America and the Caribbean)
(View definition of “early career scientist below under “Eligibility Criteria”)

❗ There is no limit to the number of candidates nominated per category and per organization in general, hence, an organization may nominate several candidates or groups, which may or may not be for the same Award category.

Eligibility criteria

  • A nominee should be either an individual (e.g. a scientist, science educator or policy maker) or a group of individuals (e.g. a scientific committee or scientific programme) actively promoting science as a global public good. Nominees and nominators should be in compliance with the ISC Conflict of Interest policy.
  • An ‘Early Career Scientist’ is defined for the purposes of this award as having received a PhD or the highest equivalent terminal degree within the 10 years preceding the nomination (exceptions to this requirement may be granted by the Awards Selection Committee for early career interruptions related to maternity/paternity leave, caregiver leave, or other standard university tenure-clock extensions. Nominators should describe the reasons for an exception in their nomination letter).
  • The following people are not eligible to be candidates for the awards during their terms in office: members of the ISC Governing Board; Presidents and Presidents-elect of ISC Members; and Chairs of ISC co-sponsored programmes (affiliated bodies). Self-nominations are not accepted.
  • Duplicate nominations for the same individual/group will not be accepted; in the case of duplicate nominations, the first nomination submitted will be considered.

Nomination package

❗ Nominations may be submitted by a representative (staff member or office bearer) of an organization that is an ISC Member, ISC affiliated body or ISC partner.

The nomination package should be submitted in English (or else be supplemented by an English translation) and contain the following elements:

  • A nomination letter signed by the head of the ISC Member, ISC Programme or ISC Partner Organization. Nomination letters should not be longer than 1000 words. They must clearly state how the nominee’s/group’s contribution over a sustained period of time (not less than a decade for advanced scientists/groups, and not less than five years for early career scientists/groups) has made significant impact in the domain of activity for which the candidate is being nominated. The letters must explain the contributions and their importance in such a way that they can be understood by their peers and those outside their fields. The nomination letter should contain a one-sentence citation (no more than 200 characters, including spaces), formulating precisely the reason for nominating the candidate, which may be used in public communications about the awards. The body of the nomination letter, which could be several paragraphs, should give a concise history of the nominee’s/nominees’ work, with reference to their publications or relevant public documents, as applicable. In the case of nominated groups, the nomination letter should describe how the individuals of the group complement each other in the area of the award. The nomination letter may be addressed to the ISC Secretary Alik Ismail-Zadeh.
  • Three supporting letters from individuals (from the academic or non-academic world, e.g. policymakers, media representatives, industry, etc.) or representatives of international organizations who have collaborated with the nominee(s) or are acquainted with the work for which the nominee(s) is/are to be recognized through the award. At least two of the letters should be from outside the nominee’s/nominees’ country of residence, except when international organizations are located in the country of residence of the nominee(s). The nominator may wish to provide his/her nomination letter and other nomination materials to the persons asked to write supporting letters to help ensure the best possible coverage of the nominee’s/nominees’ accomplishments and contributions. It is important that supporting letters augment the letter of nomination. Each supporting letter should not exceed 800 words. The supporting letters may be addressed to the ISC Secretary Alik Ismail-Zadeh.
  • The nominee’s/nominees’ CV(s), with an emphasis on the nominee’s work as relevant to the category of the award; and a list of the nominee’s most relevant and important publications, if applicable. The list of most relevant and important published works should not be longer than one, single-spaced A4 page and not more than 15 publications. The curriculum vitae should not be longer than three, single-spaced A4 pages. It should list the nominee’s: name, address, history of employment, degrees, research experience, honours (including the justification for those honours), memberships and service to the ISC, ISC Members or other international communities through leadership, committee work, advisory boards, etc. In the case of group nominations, the CV of all group individuals should be submitted (if the number of individuals is lower or equal to five), together with a link to the website(s) showing the activities of the group and a description of the group’s achievements.

The nomination and supporting letters should preferably be on letter-headed paper. The first paragraph of each nomination and supporting letter should state the name of the nominee and in broad terms the reasons for nominating or supporting the candidate. Both the nomination and supporting letters should explain how the nominee’s work has contributed to the advancement of science as a global public good – for example, through promoting international, interdisciplinary scientific research cooperation, bringing scientific knowledge into the public domain, innovating in science education and outreach, or promoting the free and responsible practice of science – as well as what insights have been gained and what impacts the work is having or will have on current and future scientific research, scientific capacity, science policy or international scientific relations. The last paragraph of the nomination and supporting letters should summarize the work, identify those organizations/communities which have benefitted, and reiterate the nominee’s main accomplishments and services to science as a global public good. All nomination and supporting letters should contain the author’s signature, full name, title, and institution affiliation. Electronic or official signatures are acceptable.

Criteria for assessment

The core criteria for assessment of candidates for the different award categories are listed below.


  • Scientific contribution and excellence (e.g. quality of research, citations, recognition in world scientific community)
  • Contribution to interdisciplinary research [1] and international cooperation in relation to sustainability
  • Contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals

Note [1]: Interdisciplinary research is a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice (Committee on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (2004). Facilitating interdisciplinary research. National Academies. Washington: National Academy Press, p. 2.)

Category 2: SCIENCE FOR POLICY [2]

  • Use of scientific knowledge and evidence to advance policy
  • Communication of science that is relevant to international policy issues
  • Contribution of science advice to governments and intergovernmental organizations

Note [2]: ‘Science for policy’ can be defined as a course of actions related to the use of scientific knowledge to develop public policies and can be achieved by a combination of scientific research, science advocacy, communication of scientific knowledge, and promotion of the knowledge to become useful, useable and used. International science for policy involves stimulating, supporting or communicating the findings of international scientific research and scholarship relevant to international policy issues.

Category 3: POLICY FOR SCIENCE [3]

  • Stimulation of and support for international scientific collaboration and scholarship
  • Promotion of developments in the science system that enable science to contribute more effectively to addressing major issues in the international public domain
  • Contributions that lead to improvements in and strengthening of the science system

Note [3]: ‘Policy for science’ is an area of public policy which is concerned with enabling science to contribute more effectively to addressing major issues in the public domain and influencing the conduct of the science, including the funding of science, often in pursuance of policy goals, such as technological innovation, promotion of health care, or environmental protection.


  • Contribution to the defence of the freedom of science
  • Promotion of the responsibility of scientists in scientific conduct
  • Recognized as a scientist


  • Scientific contribution and excellence
  • Promotion of international scientific cooperation and of science in a region


Geographic, gender, and age distribution are important considerations for the selection of awardees. The selection committee will consider the eligible nominations for balance, and, if lacking, may solicit ISC members, affiliated bodies and partners to submit additional nominations.


Nominations may be submitted by completing the online form. The nomination package should be uploaded via the form as a single PDF. The deadline for nominations is 8 March 2021. (The deadline was extended by one week since several Members have requested some more time to submit nominations.)


The Awards Selection Committee will consider all eligible nominations and will reach a decision on the 2021 awardees. The ten awardees of the ISC 2021 Awards Programme will be announced in June 2021 by the ISC President. They will each receive an award as well as a certificate of recognition.

The ISC Awards will be conferred for the first time during the next ISC General Assembly, which is scheduled to be held in October 2021.

Photo by Sinhyu on iStock

Skip to content