Frequently asked questions
Q. Can you advise on how to balance the entry narrative across the four criteria? Are the criteria equally weighted in the assessment scoring?
A. It is important that an entry gives a good account of itself under each of the criteria. However, an entry that was unable to demonstrate real and effective impact in the wider world would be unlikely to persuade the assessment process of its prize-worthiness.
Q. In order to be able to verify the benefits of the work in society, should the entry narrative have specific pointers to guide assessors in verifying what has been achieved?
A. It is useful, especially if the subject matter may be considered less ‘tangible’, for the entry to include references to outside partnerships, involvements and data that indicate the positive and beneficial impact of the work.
Q. Is there a preferred format for the entry, such as a standard Word document or something more like a professionally designed ‘glossy brochure’ with illustrations?
A. A standard Word document (min. point 12) is perfectly acceptable and the majority of entries are in that form. A more ‘glossy’ or designed production is equally acceptable but it is best to avoid the character of a ‘promotional brochure.’ A small number of relevant illustrations or figures/tables that add to understanding of the work are welcome.
Q. The guidance asks that the institution be referred to without naming it. Would that apply also to a high-profile Centre within it?
A. The aim of this guidance is to help reviewers to take a more neutral and independent approach. It is accepted that certain fields of work, particularly the more specialised, may be readily identified with a particular institution and if the work is being done by a named centre there is no objection to its formal title being named (but without the name of the host institution).
Q. How far back in time should the narrative go, in terms of long-established track record versus more recent work?
A. It is important that an entry should establish its track record as an overall context, but it is not necessary to describe its history in detail over decades. Reviewers will be interested in what has been happening in the last few years up to and including the present, the future sustainability of the work and where it is going.
Q. Should references or testimonials be included in the narrative, to point reviewers towards particular contacts?
A. References in the text of the narrative which clarify external partnerships or collaborations central to the work are helpful to reviewers – but individual letters of reference should not be attached. As part of the assessment process, the Trust will itself seek opinion of the standing and impact of the work from national or international sources knowledgeable about the field of the entry.
Q. Is the second stage set of independent, external reviewers (by Readers) part of the technical review or separate?
A. It is separate. The first stage of review is done by 4/5 Readers and entries with generally positive comments will be shown to a further two Readers as the second stage. Technical/specialist review of entries which are in positive territory after the second stage then follows.
Q. If an entry is sent in before the deadline is it read sooner by reviewers and thereby given more time for review?
A. No. The timetable for reviews is set out in the Entry document. Assessment commences for all entries after the closing date.
Q. How many entries does the Trust normally receive in a Prizes round?
A. On average over the twenty-six years (thirteen Rounds) of the scheme, upwards of one hundred entries are received each Round. [An average of twenty-one Prizes have been awarded per round.]
Q. The criteria say that the awards are not for small groups or individuals. Can you give a bit more guidance?
A. The scheme doesn’t prescribe a fixed minimum number. It is more to do with the fact that a larger unit or group may relate more clearly to the rest of the institution and represent the wider picture of what the institution has been achieving over time.
Q. If staff have already received personal recognition by a national honour such as an OBE would this be an advantage, a disadvantage or irrelevant?
A. Receipt of a national honour by a staff member as an individual is irrelevant. The entry will be judged solely against the set criteria.
Q. How important are the subject categories in which the awards are made, or are the Prizes allocated to categories after being decided?
A. There are no pre-determined or set subject categories, nor are there or ‘quotas’: entries are encouraged from any area, provided they meet the four criteria. Prize-winning subjects are classified solely for transparency purposes after the awards have been granted.
Q. Can an entry be for a project that benefited or transformed the whole institution, rather than a particular department?
A. Yes it can. All entries are submitted in the name of the institution as a whole and Prizes are awarded to the institution as a whole and not to particular departments (irrespective of the source of the work submitted).
Q. How often are unsuccessful entries reworked successfully in a later round?
A. Occasionally an area of work registers enough substantive and qualitative change in the period following an unsuccessful entry in the same field to achieve recognition. This would be more likely in a genuine case of a ‘near miss’, but the Trust advises institutions first to look across the range of their activity rather than automatically re-submit a topic.
Q. Do higher education and further education entries stand an equal chance of winning a Prize?
A. Institutions of higher and further education have an equal and open opportunity to enter the scheme, and there have been many winners from both categories during the history of the scheme.