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Making the IOP Awards work better for you

Our 2023 review means it is now easier than ever to make IOP Award nominations and showcase brilliant physicists from across a diverse community.

The IOP Awards celebrate brilliant physics everywhere and showcase the passion, excellence and hard work right across the UK and Irish physics community.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, nominations for our awards understandably reduced as the community grappled with its wide-reaching effects on society. Although nominations have since increased, they have never fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels, and we’ve had feedback from the community that it has been more difficult to generate nominations.

This matters because there may be brilliant physicists who are not being recognised simply because those who may nominate them can’t fit in with our timetables or nomination processes, or because it’s difficult to know which award to nominate for.

It also means that our awards can’t reflect the full diversity of the physics community. Although we’re proud that our awards are increasingly diverse, with nominations for women, for example, now reflecting the gender balance of the community, we know we have more to do, and there are award categories where nominations still reflect only a narrow group. Lower levels of nominations make this an increasing challenge.

2023 IOP Awards review

We want our awards to work for the physics community. It should be as easy as possible for you to nominate colleagues and yourselves for the incredible work taking place in all parts of our profession by physicists of all backgrounds, all specialisms, and working in all fields, from academia to teaching, technical fields to business.

Over the summer, we’ve held a consultation to explore what changes we might make to encourage more nominations and ensure the awards are as open, accessible and straightforward as they can be – while retaining the high standards and rigour that make the awards so prestigious. The consultation was led by Professor Martin Freer, Vice-president for Science and Innovation (2019-2023), and Professor Helen Gleeson, Representative to Council for Inclusion and Diversity (2021-2023).

Further to consultation, the IOP Council has approved some recommendations for the timing and phasing of the awards, as well as simplifying the nominations process itself.

What’s changing in 2024?

New nominations periods

To respond to the different needs of various parts of the community – academic, business and teaching schedules – we’ll be spreading out the calls for nominations for our different awards categories.

  • Nominations are now closed for the 2024 IOP Medals and Prizes. Nominations for the 2025 cycle of IOP Medals and Prizes are scheduled to open towards the end of 2024.
  • The Phillips Award, the Teachers of Physics awards and the School and Further Education Technician awards opened for nominations in February 2024.
  • The Business, Apprentice and Apprenticeship Employer awards, and the Business, Higher Education & National Research Facility Technician award opened for nominations in March 2024.

New phasing for medals and prizes

To reduce the number of medals and prizes to submit nominations to every year, our gold and silver subject medals and prizes will be split evenly across odd and even years, with 19 and 18 medals each year respectively.

Simplified nominations

We have simplified our nominations process in a range of ways across each of the different categories:

  • Medals and prizes will now adopt a simple nomination validation process, replacing the previous need for references;
  • Teachers of Physics awards will no longer require nominations to demonstrate excellence across at least three criteria. Our consultation showed that this was potentially off-putting, in particular to teachers working in state-funded schools who often have less time to devote to work outside their core responsibilities. Instead, nominations will only need to demonstrate evidence of impact against at least one of the criteria;
  • The requirement for referees has been removed in its entirety for Apprenticeship Employer awards;
  • For the Apprentice and the Technician awards, only referee contact details (rather than a full reference) will be required at the nomination stage, to be followed up by the IOP as needed.

EDI form and data

To help us fully understand the diversity of nominations and awards, and because we want to celebrate the excellent work of physicists from all backgrounds, it will now be mandatory to submit an EDI monitoring form with a nomination. Nominators will have the option to choose ‘prefer not to say’ for any questions they would rather not answer, but returning the form will be obligatory to encourage nominators to share important data.

Full details will be provided for each awards category when categories open for nominations. If you have any questions, please get in touch. Email: [email protected].