Top tips for writing a successful Fellowship nomination

Our Fellows are central to all that we do. Use these top tips when nominating candidates for Fellowship, so that we can continue to elect the brightest minds to the Academy.

Our 10-year strategy sets the ambition to evolve our Fellowship to be more reflective of the society we live in. Currently, Black, Asian and minority ethnic researchers make up just 8% of the Fellowship, while 21% of Fellows are women and 34% are based outside of London, Cambridge and Oxford. To improve this, the pool of candidates we elect from must grow to include a broader diversity of thought, expertise, and backgrounds.

Currently only Fellows can nominate candidates for election, and every Fellow can play a part in helping us fill that pool with excellent candidates. One way is to seek out diverse nominations from underrepresented groups or, make yourself known and visible within your institution as a potential Academy nominator, to allow potential candidates to come to you. Keep the doors of communication open so that people can approach you to discuss nominations. Connect with your Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) professionals in your organisation who can support you, and reach out to your internal networks for disability, race, gender, LGBTQ+. Be aware of some of the hesitations that diverse candidates may face and how different career experiences contribute to the excellence and leadership we seek. You may wish to use our EDI principles to guide you and our EDI Manager Vivien Kintu can help make connections.

We recently held a nominations masterclass with Academy Registrar Professor Dame Jessica Corner and key staff members for Fellows to learn what makes a successful nomination:

The criteria for election is either that the candidate has made an outstanding or unique contribution to a field of research, for their notable leadership and management roles, or for contributing to the public understanding of medical science. Only Fellows can nominate candidates; one serves as the principal nominator, and they must be supported by two other Fellows as referees. The election process begins in July; please see the timetable for elections in 2022-23.

The application contains a citation, a list of 10 principal contributions, a summary of achievements, a CV, and the full list of publications. Read our 5 top tips on how to write these successfully so that your candidate is elected.

Professor Sir Stephen Holgate FMedSci:

“I’m somewhat of a super nominator, but there’s not one magic ingredient!”

  1. Remember that not everyone reading the application is an expert in your candidate’s work
    Your application must be accessible and understandable, as it will be reviewed by people who are not experts in the field. Don’t let too much detail be the downfall of your nomination. Make sure that it looks professional and that spelling is correct.

    Professor John Radford FMedSci:
    “My experience on the sectional committee really highlighted how excellent the people who apply are, and how difficult it is to disentangle these excellent people from each other. This emphasises the point of clarity and simplicity.”

  2. The citation is the most important aspect of the nomination

    What would have happened had this individual not made these contributions? How have they changed the world as a result of their work? How have they benefited people, patients and healthcare? How will the individual be able to contribute to the Academy? These are all questions to answer in your citation. You can also make reference here to the career development of others, or the individual’s interdisciplinary work.

    Professor Dame Jessica Corner FMedSci:
    “The 300-word citation is crucial in the way that it is crafted. We have many exceptional nominations and the committees make a really difficult choice each year. The citation assists with the decision making. How can the nomination stand out amongst all of these other exceptional people?”

  3. The summary of achievements and top 10 publications should link together

    While the citation answers the questions above, the summary of achievements should chart the research career in a compelling narrative. It should be stimulating and engaging, and as it tracks the career it should be backed up with evidence, which is the top 10 publications list.

    Stress your candidate’s role in each of their publications. Be clear what your candidate’s contribution was; were they a leader or part of a team? Include a mix of publications that they have contributed to, but also some where they have clearly led.

    Think of it as a lay summary. It should draw together in a simple and clear way and highlight where the candidate has made a difference to medicine and healthcare, nationally and internationally.

    Professor Sir Stephen Holgate FMedSci:

    “It’s like reading the blurb of a novel to decide whether to read it.”

  4. Choose the sectional committee to review your candidate wisely

    There are 8 sectional committees who review the candidates. Think carefully about which the right committee is, particularly if your candidate has moved from research to more of a national leadership role. For example, committee 7 looks at leadership contributions in a broad sense; some candidates may be better placed to be reviewed here if their achievements are in policy work, even if their academic discipline would normally sit in one of the other committees. Sectional committee 8 reviews industry and commercial candidates.

    If your candidate isn’t successful in the first year they are nominated, it is possible to change the sectional committee that reviews them the next year.

  5. Keep your nomination updated each year it is in the pool

    If a candidate is not successfully elected in their first year, they remain in the pool of candidates for five years. It’s possible to be elected in each of these five years; every year when Fellows are elected, there is a spread of candidates from each year that they have been in the pool. After five years the candidate will lapse for two years, during which time they cannot be elected. After this they can enter the pool again for another three years, before lapsing for two years. There is no limit to this.

    It's vitally important that you update your candidate’s nomination each year.

Key contacts


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