as Provost at a University or manager of
a non-IT unit in industry), or voluntary
work unrelated to computing will not
carry much weight. Think carefully before devoting precious nomination text
to such activities.
The large majority of the successful
candidates are selected mostly on the
strength of their scientific and technical contributions. A very small number
is selected mostly on the strength of
outstanding service to the ACM community. However, candidates are expected to have contributed both.
Avoid platitudes and do not spend
your word budget on evident claims or
meta-discussions. One annoying example is “This nomination is a no-brainer.”
It may be a no-brainer for the nominator (or endorser), but no nomination is
a no-brainer for the award committee.
Let the evidence show that the nomination is a no-brainer.
Another common example is: “It is
my opinion that the candidate is in the
top 1% of ACM members.” The nominator is very unlikely to be acquainted
with a representative sample of the
entire ACM population, so such a statement weakens the credibility of the
Don’t spend space reporting Google
citation counts. Committee members
are given reports from ACM on citation
rates (both Google and ACM Digital library) and similar metrics. Given the
large diversity of computing the numbers are relevant only when compared
to numbers of people of a similar age
working in the same area. Do not paraphrase the CV of the candidate.
Do not assume the award committee is familiar with the candidate’s
research area. An award committee of
10 people cannot possibly represent
all research areas in computing, and
the committee member most familiar
with the candidate may have a conflict.
Therefore, it is essential to explain why
an achievement is important. “She
proved theorem xxx” is not useful without an explanation of why people care
about xxx; “she developed protocol yyy”
is not useful without an explanation of
how broadly the protocol is used.
Do not assume the committee is
familiar with the candidate’s country.
ACM strives to have an international
representation on the committee, but
not every country can be represented.
selects the endorsers. The endorsers
then submit their endorsements. The
recommendations here cover the stages of this process: Selecting a nominator, writing a nomination, selecting
endorsers, and writing endorsements;
they address the people involved in
these various activities.
Choose an experienced and willing
nominator. Writing good nominations
is a skill that improves with experience;
it is also a time-consuming activity. If no
experienced and willing nominator is to
be found, then consider having a more
experienced person read the nomination and suggest improvements.
Involve the candidate in the nomination process. A nominator might
be tempted to nominate a candidate
without her knowledge, to avoid disappointment in the case the nomination fails. This is a bad idea, for a variety of reasons: The candidate is best
placed to provide accurate information on her achievements and for selecting plausible endorsers. Besides,
since each nomination is a bet that
carries a risk (a two-year waiting time
before the next attempt) it is best to
consult the candidate before making
the bet on her behalf.
Do not let the candidate write the
nomination on her own. A candidate
may want to write her own nomination; such a write-up could be a useful
draft, but should not be the final nomination. For one thing, the nomination
is supposed to be contributed by the
nominator and express his views, not
the views of the candidate. A nominator
will have a more objective view of the
importance of various contributions
and a better understanding of how the
nomination will be read by a committee that is not necessarily familiar with
the candidate. The nominator should
have more experience writing this type
Start creating the nomination early.
An earlier start means more time to it-
erate on the nomination text. It means
that endorsers are more likely to agree
to endorse, since they have not yet been
approached multiple times, and they
have time to write a quality endorse-
ment. It means endorsements are
likely to be submitted well ahead of the
deadline, thus ensuring that unfore-
seen events will not prevent a submis-
sion. ACM will accept only the first five
submitted endorsements. An endorser
is unlikely to be pleased when his en-
dorsement is rejected as being super-
fluous. Rather than soliciting more
endorsements than needed and creat-
ing superfluous work, it may be advis-
able to solicit five endorsements from
the preferred endorsers and ensure
an additional person will be willing to
write an endorsement on short notice,
Ensure the formal requirements for
Fellowship are satisfied. ACM requires
five years of continuous membership.
People might be well known in the field
and have a long association with ACM,
but could have dropped their member-
ship for a period during the last five
years though negligence or frugality.
Check that the five-year requirement
is satisfied before starting the process.
Focus the nomination write-up on
the formal requirements for an ACM
“The title of ACM Fellow denotes pro-
fessional excellence, as evidenced by
technical, professional and leadership
˲ advance the arts, sciences and prac-
tices of computing,
˲ promote the free interchange of ideas
and information in the field,
˲ develop and maintain the integ-
rity and competence of individuals in
the field, and advance the objectives
The text speaks quite specifically to
contributions in the field of comput-
ing. Contributions outside the field are
not relevant to the nomination. The
committee usually takes a broad view
of computing to include cognate areas.
But success in an executive position
unrelated to computing (for example,
While a good
may not help
a weak candidate,
a lousy one may sink
a good candidate.