Components of a Nomination

A dossier comprises five documents, which should be submitted by email as separate documents to

  1. Nomination Form
  2. Cover Letter from the Primary Nominator
  3. Letter of Reference
  4. 1000-word summary of the candidate's record
  5. CV

70-word Citation (included on Nomination Form)

Citations will have a maximum length of 70 words. The citation should concentrate on the candidate’s original contributions to research and scholarship and should be written so that it can be understood by non-specialists. The citation normally does not play a role in the assessment of a nomination by the selection committee since the information it contains will be repeated in the detailed assessment. While there is no standard form for citations, the citation should include at least the basic information in the following order: full name of the nominee; institutional affiliation (if any); and discipline or artistic field.

A Cover Letter from the Primary Nominator

The nominator must, except in the case of an institutional nomination, be a Member of the College or a Fellow of the Society. Where the nomination is made by an Institutional Member, the Primary Nominator shall be the President or CEO of the university or organization. 

The letter from a Primary Nominator should introduce the nomination. It is expected that the letter will be about one page in length, detailing the highlights of the candidate’s career, illustrating how the candidate meets the criteria, and explains whether the candidate has experienced a career interruption. The letter should list the names of the referee whose letter is also attached to the nomination, with a brief indication of why that referee has been selected. It is important to append a brief biography (250 words maximum) of the referee as the last page of the referee letter. If the referee has a website it is also helpful to provide a link.

The dossier will be reviewed by individuals outside of the candidate's direct field of study. It would be helpful for the cover letter to define the usual level of publications and/or grants for the candidate's field of study. 

The cover letter should not repeat information in the detailed appraisal of the nominee; nor should it be cast as an additional letter of reference. Committees do not take into account statements of a referential character contained in letters of presentation. 

Letter of Reference

References should be a maximum of three pages in length and are typically shorter. A good letter of reference will usually address: (a) the referee’s direct and personal knowledge of the candidate and his or her work; (b) the originality, significance and impact of the candidate’s career; (c) the national and international reputation of the candidate; and (d) other relevant information that indicates the substantial contributions made by the candidate to the Arts, the Humanities, the Social Sciences or the Sciences.  

The volume of publications accumulated over a lengthy career is less important than the impact that even a small number of publications may have had. The referee’s task is to indicate what the impact of the nominee’s scholarship has been.

Good letters of reference tend to be “fact heavy.” Assertions about quality of work should be backed up by reference to some objective source that can confirm the assertion. Statements such as, for example, “won Award X for best publication in Y field,” or “won Award as best article of the year published in journal Z,” or “has been cited 400 times” are confirmatory of quality. 

When speaking about impact, it is helpful to indicate in what way the candidate’s work has made a practical or theoretical impact in the discipline in question. Statements such as, for example, “developed a new theory which resulted in XXX,” or “published a critique of XYZ that stimulated a great debate in ABC,” or “developed a product that changed the way XYZ” are helpful in situating the nominee’s impact. 

External measures such as citation indexes should also be mentioned in letters if they are current measures in the discipline in question. A common mistake of referees is to analogize the process to tenure or promotion process. General statements like “is a great teacher,” “was an excellent department chair,” “is a treasured colleague,” “is generous in reading and critiquing manuscripts,” do not carry much weight with Selection Committees.

Although referees can be persons who have collaborated with the candidate, they must disclose within their letter the nature and extent of their relationship with the candidate. 

1000-word Summary of the Candidate's Record

The detailed appraisal is the nominator’s opportunity to present a narrative of the candidate’s career in a manner that clearly indicates how the candidate meets the statutory criteria for election and why the candidate is deserving of election. The detailed appraisal is not a reference and therefore should not contain information about how the nominator has come to know the candidate. Normally the detailed appraisal will repeat any substantive information about the nominee’s achievements that appears in the citation. The appraisal should be as technical as is necessary to indicate the candidate’s contributions, but should not be so technical that members of the Selection Committee from other disciplines are unable to make a confident assessment of the candidate’s work. It is important that the detailed appraisal be written in non-technical language that can be understood by all members of the relevant Division. The detailed appraisal should explicitly note how and why the work of the candidate is original and significant. Notice of awards and prizes for scholarship is helpful in establishing impact. The appraisal should also advert to the national and international impact of the candidate’s career and the reputation the candidate has acquired. For example, mention should be made of election to significant international scholarly bodies, publication in top-rated international and foreign journals, translation of technical papers or other materials into foreign languages, invitations to give named lectureships at foreign universities, service on scientific advisory panels of leading international agencies and NGOs, and like indicia (such as, in certain disciplines, citation indexes) of impact and reputation.


The CV should be structured based on the candidate’s discipline and in a format that is acceptable to any of the tri-councils, but that covers the candidate’s entire career.