About the Secretary's Research Prizes
The Smithsonian Secretary awards up to ten annual prizes recognizing excellence in recent research by the Institution’s employees.
Process and Scope
A committee of jurors named by the Smithsonian Congress of Scholars will review nominations and forward its recommendations to the Secretary who will select the final award recipients. The awards will be presented by the Secretary in the Fall. Prize winners will each be awarded $2,000 in research funds to be placed in 402 accounts for their use.
Any Smithsonian staff member may place a colleague’s name into nomination or may self-nominate. The array of awards will be pan-Smithsonian, reflecting the wide diversity of research at the Institution across disciplinary areas with differing standards and goals. Peer-reviewed scholarship on any topic that covers the span of the Smithsonian’s activities is eligible. Interdisciplinary and collaborative research is encouraged, as is publication in electronic as well as print or video formats. In the sciences, subject areas may include, among others, astronomy, earth sciences, human sciences, and biology; in the humanities, history and culture, art history, social sciences, and conservation reports. Excellence as judged by peers, internal or external, will be the overarching standard and interdisciplinary research is especially encouraged.
The selection committee will have considerable latitude and flexibility to recommend prize awards, depending upon the number and quality of nominations each year. Following are some recommended categories and guidelines for submitting nominations:
Two or more prizes may be awarded annually for best scholarly books. Books published in the past three years may be placed in nomination (i.e., for the 2012 awards, books published in 2009, 2010, and 2011 will be considered). They may remain in contention for three years. Books must make an original and useful contribution to knowledge about the subject discussed. They may be judged on the basis of quality of research, originality, grace and clarity of writing, and usefulness of the research to the scholarly field and society. Books may include single-author exhibition catalogues. Two copies of each book, a copy of the author’s (or authors’ if there are more than one) curriculum vitae, and two letters attesting to the significance of each book should be submitted. Book reviews may be added to the nomination packet as desired.
Articles or Chapters
Multiple prizes may be awarded for best scholarly articles in peer-reviewed publications or for single essays in book-length publications in a variety of areas. Articles or essays must have been published within the last two years (i.e., for the 2012 prize, articles published in 2010 and 2011 are eligible). They will be judged on quality of research, originality, grace and clarity of writing, and usefulness of the research to the scholarly field and society. A copy of each article or essay, a copy of the author’s (or authors’) curriculum vitae, and two letters attesting to the significance of each article should be submitted.
Exhibition catalogues or symposium proceedings
The selection committee may also recommend prizes for the best multi-author exhibition catalogue or best symposium proceedings publication organized and edited by a Smithsonian employee (or employees). Catalogues published within the last two years (i.e., for the 2012 prize, essays published in 2010 and 2011) are eligible. They will be judged on quality of research, originality, grace and clarity of writing, and usefulness of research to the scholarly field and society. Two copies of each catalogue, a copy of the editor’s (or editors’) curriculum vitae, and two letters attesting to the significance of each catalogue should be submitted.
The committee may upon occasion award a prize for the best exhibition without published catalogue in the past calendar year. The exhibition demonstrates original new scholarship and a new perception of a given area of study, through clear explanation of research, selection and grouping of objects, explanatory wall texts, and installation strategies. This is not a prize for education or outreach but for an innovative assemblage and display of important new research. The nomination must include a written overview of the exhibition, photos (or photocopies) of the spaces, a map showing the layout of the exhibition and explanation of the installation strategy, and copies of any accompanying brochures or fliers. Exhibition reviews and two letters attesting to the impact of the show on scholarly understanding must also be submitted.
Recordings and moving images
The committee may choose to award one or more prizes for the best documentary recordings (sound recordings with liner notes) or video/film productions. Recordings or productions issued within the last two years may be considered (i.e., for the 2012 prize, essays published in 2010 and 2011). They will be judged on research, originality, clarity of presentation, and usefulness of research to the scholarly field and society. In addition to a copy of (or access to) the recording or production, two letters attesting to the significance of each nominated production should be submitted.
Scholarly web sites
One or more prizes may be awarded for the best online site(s) offering original research and analysis to the scholarly world and the public. As with all of the other prize categories, the content of the site must be peer reviewed in some fashion. The research offered on the web site must be original and make a distinct new contribution to the field. Sites completed within the past two years are eligible (i.e., for the 2012 award, sites completed in 2010 and 2011 are eligible). Two letters from scholars attesting to the significance of the site should be submitted.
For further information contact the SCOS Chair (see "Council" page).