Award Nomination Tips & Resources

What do I need before I can begin?

Academic divisions may set their own internal processes and provide strategic guidance for award nominations. To discuss a possible nomination, please contact your divisional honours and awards coordinator.


Honours and awards serve to recognize and reward outstanding and impactful research through monetary prizes, certificates, ceremonies and/or public announcements. They are part of a continuum of research funding and recognition that includes grants, fellowships, and salary awards. However, the conventions that dictate the content, style, submission and administration of honours and awards nominations can differ significantly from grant applications.

The tips and resources below are designed to support nominees, nominators, academic administrators and staff in identifying opportunities, developing nominations, and managing award nomination processes for faculty members.

Key Resources

Tips & Resources for Faculty Nominees & Nominators

Developing an Award Strategy

  1. What are some of the benefits of pursuing research honours & awards?
    • They contribute to career development by providing peer recognition that can lead to further opportunities.
    • They are part of a long-term, stepping-stone trajectory that will ultimately position you to compete for suitable opportunities as your career advances.
    • Many awards provide funds that can be put toward your research.
    • They provide recognition of your achievements by the wider public and greater visibility within the university.
    • In many cases, you will be able to develop nominations by repurposing existing biosketches, impact statements, and research overviews that you have on hand from previous grant applications.
  2. When am I ready to be nominated for an honour or award?
    • Honours and awards are available for researchers at each career stage, from very early career recognitions to lifetime achievement awards.
    • Most honours and awards recognize significant achievements, impacts or leadership appropriate to career stage. If your research has already had a demonstrable impact on your field, evidenced through such measures as publications, citations, speaking invitations or other recognitions, and supportive colleagues, you may be well positioned for nomination.
    • Consult with your colleagues and chair or dean’s office to learn about awards and timelines specific to your discipline or specialty.
  3. How do I begin the process of searching for honours & awards opportunities that are a good fit for a colleague or me?
  4. Can I nominate myself for an award?
    • While self-nominations are usually not permitted, it is critical that faculty self-advocate and work with awards coordinators and supportive colleagues to help them identify a nominator and those who can write letters of support that champion their scholarship.
    • Faculty often work with awards staff to develop a strong nomination package. It is not uncommon for faculty to indicate they are interested in pursuing fellowships, honours and awards, just as they would for research funding.

Assembling Your Award Dossier

  1. What documents do I need to prepare for a nomination?
    • The elements of your nomination package will depend on the specific award and on how involved your nominator may be in writing the materials. Nominees are often involved in preparing the nomination by providing the following components.
      • A one-sentence citation summarizing the nominated achievements.
      • A summary and/or detailed description of research achievements.
      • A list of top publications or comparable scholarly outputs.
      • A curriculum vitae.
    • Many of these elements can be prepared proactively based on existing materials and adapted for various opportunities. Please see our Recommended Components of a Faculty Awards Dossier (PDF) for guidance.
  2. What should I consider when identifying supporters for a nomination?
    • Develop a list of colleagues external to U of T who are able to substantively comment on your scholarship, have watched you develop as a researcher, and would be willing to write a compelling letter of support on your behalf.
    • Review the award sponsor’s conflict of interest policy carefully to ensure that suggested referees meet these guidelines.
    • Consider including supporters that demonstrate the breadth of your impact; for example, by including both national and international scholars or individuals who can speak to different aspects of your work.
    • Discuss with your nominator or award coordinator how letters will be solicited and the appropriate timelines.

Writing Nomination and Support Letters

  1. How do I write a nomination letter for a colleague’s nomination that is enthusiastic, persuasive, and convinces reviewers to act as advocates for the nominee?
    • Before writing a nomination letter, ask the nominee or the coordinator facilitating the nomination to provide the nominee’s CV and supplementary material with concrete examples of their research excellence and their impact.
    • A strong, persuasive nomination letter provides the following.
      • A clear statement of the achievements being nominated, their relevance to the selection criteria, and your conviction that the nominee is an ideal candidate.
      • Concrete, tangible examples to support the nominee’s candidacy.
      • Sufficient context for the nominee’s achievements so reviewers can understand the significance of important findings or impacts that may not be self-evident to those outside the field of study.
      • Evidence that the nominee is at the top of their field or, for early-career researchers, is developing a program of research that will put them at the leading edge of research in their discipline.
      • Research and/or innovation metrics that are appropriate to their discipline (number of citations, h-index, etc.) and that demonstrate a consensus of the nominee’s excellence or leadership (e.g., speaking invitations, editorial roles, key recognitions, patents).
      • A clear structure, using subheadings to organize content if necessary.
  2. What should I consider when I solicit letters of support?
    • Solicit letters of support as early as possible in the process; ensure letter writers are aware of your deadlines and are able to meet them.
    • Once supporters have agreed to write, provide them with supplementary material including the selection criteria for the award, a description of the nominee’s research and the nominee’s CV to aid them in writing a robust and enthusiastic letter.
    • If the award sponsor requires letters of support to cover specific topics or have a particular structure or length, ensure this is clearly conveyed to the letter writer.
  3. How can I avoid unconscious bias when I write letters of nomination or support?
    • Research has consistently shown subtle and often-unconscious differences in letters of support that can disadvantage underrepresented groups in academia.
    • Ensure that your letters are detailed, specific, and research-focused, and avoid the following descriptions of the nominee that might inadvertently introduce bias or ‘doubt-raisers’ into your letter.
      • 'Grindstone adjectives' that emphasize effort or personality traits rather than accomplishments, which tend to appear more often in letters written for women and racialized nominees.
      • Gendered words that can subtly signal who belongs and who doesn’t within an award competition.
      • References to the nominee’s personal life.
    • If an award opportunity requires you to explain how equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) were considered in the development of a nomination, the Division of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation offers a collection of EDI Resources that provides additional best practices and links to resources that are discipline-specific.

Tips & Resources for Academic Administrators & Staff

Honours & Awards Best Practices for Academic Units

Academic divisions and units play a vital role in identifying appropriate candidates for award nominations and helping to build researchers’ trajectories or award ‘scaffolds’ from disciplinary to national and international awards. The Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation has developed a guide to Resources and Best Practices for Research Honours and Award Nominations (PDF) within academic units, which explores the following.

  • The importance of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in honours and awards and steps that units can take to ensure equitable nomination processes.
  • Options for implementing systematic, effective and efficient processes to approach honour and award nominations consistently and regularly.
  • Tips for cultivating a nomination and celebration culture within academic units.
  • Resources for identifying award opportunities and developing nominations proactively, which are also found in the earlier sections of this webpage.

Universities Canada Global Excellence Initiative

The Global Excellence Initiative (GEI) promotes the recognition of Canadian research talent on the international stage by providing inventories of prestigious national and international research awards, supporting the development of compelling dossiers for such awards, and identifying meritorious candidates for selected awards.

VPRI works closely with GEI and with Divisional Honours & Awards Coordinators to capitalize on these supports and ensure awards in the GEI inventories are highlighted within the U of T Honours & Awards Opportunities Database. The GEI also recognizes Canadian winners of major international awards in an annual publication.

Help & Support

Divisional Honours & Awards Coordinators oversee strategic goals and nomination processes in each academic division, and are the primary contacts for faculty members and units seeking to discuss Honours and Award nominations.

VPRI (contact below) sets strategic goals for honours and awards nominations; manages nominations endorsed by the University, including internal competitions to select University candidates; provides resources and supports for nominations by the University community; and oversees institutional celebratory practices, data and performance tracking.

Forms & Downloads


  • Curate the University’s database of national and international honours and awards opportunities
  • Manage award nominations that require University endorsement
  • Provide strategic guidance to divisional Honours and Awards Coordinators
  • Respond to inquiries regarding honours & awards nominations

VPRI Contact


Sarah Carson

Manager, University Awards & Honours
Office of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation (OVPRI)
(416) 978-7905

Other Resources

Gendered Words >Simon Fraser University