Travelling Fellowship Award Committee terms of reference


In order to ensure transparency and to allow for wider involvement of the Fellowship, Committee membership for all awards will be for three years only, with approximately one third of the members retiring each year (on 31 December). In the case of newly formed committees, such retirements will begin at the end of the second year.

A Chair will normally have already served on the Award Committee as a member for at least one year and their maximum term as Chair will be for two years - so that their membership term does not extend beyond five years. For biennial awards, years of membership are up to three award rounds (six years) for members – with the maximum years for a Chair’s term being two award rounds (up to four years). There will be a minimum break of two award rounds before a member can re-join a committee.

Award Committee members are unable to apply for an award or act as a referee for a candidate, for consideration by the committee that they are sitting on. 

Award timeframes

Travelling Fellowship award nominations and applications are due by 1 June each year.  Award Committee deliberations are to be finalised and written recommendations and reports sent to the Secretariat by 1 August. Recommendations will then be submitted to EXCOM in August for approval.

Committee deliberations

All members are expected to undertake unconscious bias training. Council and The Secretaries will determine the nature of this training each year.

The Academy is committed to promoting diversity of, for example, gender, ethnicity, age, geographical distribution and scientific disciplines, and to the principles of inclusion, equal opportunity, fairness and transparency in its policies and procedures.

Unconscious bias often manifests as prejudice or unsupported judgments. It is considered to be universally present, and often escapes detection because it is not applied consciously.

The purpose of unconscious bias training is to help Committee members recognize its existence and forms, and the influence it can have on decision-making processes, with a view to mitigating its effects on selection processes.  

Current training is provided though the Academies Unconscious bias Training Video, which Committee members are requested to view prior to stating their nomination assessments (45 minutes -
Members of each Award Committee are also encouraged to watch the Royal Society video on avoiding group think -

Applicants can only receive funding from the same research or travelling research award once in a three calendar year period.

Applicants may apply for more than one award but can only receive one Academy travelling or research award per calendar year. 

If an applicant applies for two or more research awards across the Max Day, Thomas Davies and Margaret Middleton awards, the chairs of these committees will be alerted to the fact and will be charged to communicate with each other to ensure that the awardee only receives the one award. Their assessment will be based on their determination of the quality of the other applicants in that round.  If an applicant for two awards is the top ranked candidate for both awards, the chairs will recommend a single award that best benefits the research/career of that candidate. 

Committee members will ensure that they are satisfied that proposals comply with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. Research involving Indigenous Australians must comply with the guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies  Any concerns must be reported to the Academy for further clarification or resolution either at the application or pre-award stage.


Conflict of interest

The first task of the Committee before any assessment or ranking takes place is for committee Chairs to ask for and collect declarations of conflicts of interest from all committee members and forward this information to the Secretariat. When identifying conflicts of interest, committee members should use the following as a guide to direct and indirect conflicts. The Secretariat will provide Chairs with a spreadsheet for members to complete and will keep a record of declarations.

To reduce the risk of conflicts of interest, award committee members are asked to refrain from nominating, or acting as a referee, for new nominees for awards that fall under their committee’s remit. It is appreciated that there may be residual conflicts from existing nominations. These should be dealt with in consultation with the Secretaries.

Members with direct conflicts of interest must declare the nature of that conflict upfront in their conflict-of-interest report sent to the Chair and secretariat and can not score or comment on their conflicted candidate unless answering direct questions posed to them by the committee.

Members with an indirect conflict of interest with a candidate may provide an evaluation but must declare the nature of that conflict upfront in their conflict of interest report sent to the Chair and secretariat. 

Members with indirect conflicts of interest with a candidate are able to rank that candidate but should not speak on behalf of the candidate at any point of the deliberation process except in response to questions posed directly to them by the committee, through the Chair, in relation to the candidate and/or field of research in question.

Committees with Chairs that have declared any direct or indirect conflicts of interest are requested to copy the relevant Side-Secretary into all committee deliberations.

At the relevant Side-Secretary’s discretion an independent third-party assessor may be brought in to assist such committees at any point of the deliberations. They would join as either an additional member of the committee with full voting rights and normal tenure, or as a non-voting observer for one year.

A direct conflict of interest of a committee member with a candidate can occur for a number of reasons including, but not limited to, if they:

a. have or have had a close personal relationship (including enmity) with the candidate;

b. have a professional research relationship with the candidate including:

i) are negotiating/hold/have held within the past two years a research proposal conjointly with the candidate. (In proposals with a very large number of investigators, such as large centres or infrastructure grants, this may not be a direct conflict unless there is close collaboration);

ii) have been a collaborator or co-author with the candidate on a research output within the past four years. (Co-authorship on papers with a very large number of authors may not be a direct conflict, unless there is close collaboration).

iii) have ever been an academic supervisor of the candidate i.e. when the candidate was a research student or post-doc;

iv) have been an employment supervisor/direct line manager of the candidate within the past five years;

c. have been in the same division/department/section of the organisation employing the candidate or the same research centre as the candidate and in the same research field or a closely related research field as the candidate (including e.g., in an honorary capacity) within the past two years.

d. If they are a nominator or referee for the candidate.

Committee members may be deemed to have an indirect conflict of interest with a candidate if any of the following apply:

a. they have had any of the professional research relationships listed in ‘b’ (i), (ii), (iv) above at any time in the past 10 years;

b. they have been in the same division, department, section or centre as the candidate (including e.g., in an honorary capacity) at any time in the past 5 years;

c. they have been a co-editor with the candidate of a book, journal, compendium, or conference proceedings involving close collaboration within the past two years. 

Perceived conflicts of interest are important to the reputation of the Academy and in some jurisdictions have the same standing as actual conflicts of interest. As such, the number of exceptions to these guidelines approved by the Side-Secretaries will be minimised.


All material relating to candidates is strictly confidential and must not be shared with anyone. Following the deliberations, all electronic material must be deleted from personal devices and printed material and notes securely destroyed or returned to the Awards office. The deliberations remain confidential, even after the awarding of candidates.

Consideration of candidates

Committee members will ensure that gender and diversity issues are taken into consideration when considering candidates for awards. 

Copies of candidate’s applications will be forwarded by the Secretariat to the Chair of the Award Committee for circulation to his/her committee to consider.

The Secretariat will organise a webconference for the committee to discuss the award applications. Aside from this Secretariat-organised meeting, chairs will determine how their committee will conduct its deliberations, for example via electronic means.

In general, Award Committees should attempt to achieve a consensus with respect to the winner to be recommended to Council. Where this is not possible, the matter should be resolved by a formal vote. In the event of the number of votes for any two candidates being equal, the Chair would exercise a casting vote. When a vote is used to decide the outcome of the Committee’s deliberations, the actual distribution of the votes should be recorded in the Chair’s report to Council.

Committees can recommend that there be no award made in that round if there is consensus that there isn’t a sufficiently strong candidate.

Chair's report to council

The Secretariat will provide a report template for chairs to complete. Chairs will provide the Awards Officer with a brief summary (one page) of the deliberations of the Committee, how many applications were received, the final decision and why the candidate is being proposed to Council for the award, by 5 September. The report should also include the completed register of conflicts of interest (and how conflicts were dealt with) and any recommended changes to the award or to the selection process.

New members

As part of its recommendations to Council, the Award Committee should advise on optimum disciplinary makeup of the committee for replacement committee members. on replacement members as required.

The Secretaries Physical and Biological Sciences will review the interest received from individual Fellows to sit on award committees and the Committee recommendations regarding disciplinary makeup and select new members and Chairs as guided by the following selection principles, presenting these to Council Annually out of session for record and oversight:

  • Annually the Fellowship will be consulted on their availability for Award and Sectional committees.
  • The member expertise across each Awards Committee will endeavour to cover the fields of the candidates relevant to that committee
  • When nominations close, new members will be added to any Awards Committee if the Secretaries consider that expertise is lacking or that conflicts would inhibit the committee in ranking particular candidates
  • The membership of each Awards Committee, within the conditions of that Award, and where possible will reflect appropriate geographical spread, gender and ethnic diversity as guided by and in accordance with the principles provided by the Equity and Diversity Reference Group (EDRG)
  • The Secretaries will also consider members outside of the award discipline for Award committees, Corresponding Members of the Academy and Fellows of the Royal Society Te Aparangi.
  • The Secretaries will aim to have a minimum of 5 members appointed on each Award Committee.
  • The EDRG representative on Council will be tasked to record and feedback to the Secretaries any equity and diversity matters observed in relation to the awards and where shown in the annual award committee reports presented to Council.
  • When appropriate Early and Mid-Career Researchers and previous awardees of an Award will be considered for award committee membership, as well as Fellows of other National Academies and non-Fellows with particular expertise.

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