It’s Now Easier to Nominate a Potential Fellow

Changes to the process include reducing the number of references and streamlining the nomination form

5 December 2018

Last year the IEEE Board of Directors and the Fellow Committee approved an amendment to the committee’s operations manual that is expected to allow the committee to operate more efficiently.

One important modification is related to the nomination process. The number of required references for a nominee has been reduced to between three and five, from the original five to eight. This policy change hopefully will increase the number of nominees from industry, whose nominators often have struggled to find enough Fellows to serve as references, especially when the nominee was not involved in scholarly activities.

The committee also made several changes to the Fellow nomination form, which is now effective with the current nomination cycle, for the class of 2020. The deadline for nominations for that class is 1 March 2019.

The changes include:

  • A more structured, streamlined form that elicits crisper, more focused narratives of the candidate’s accomplishments.
  • Removal of potential ambiguities concerning the nominee’s identity by encouraging the inclusion of a common “disambiguation identifier” such as open researcher and contributor ID, researcher ID, or Scopus author ID. An identifier is a unique and persistent number that is assigned to a group of documents written by the same author and help attribute papers to the right author. This is particularly useful when a nominee has a common name and most of the presented evidence is based on scholarly papers.
  • Clearer identification of the nominee’s one or two most distinctive technical contributions.
  • A more structured way to list technical accomplishments and the nominee’s IEEE and non-IEEE activities.
  • A new section to list awards from IEEE as well as those from other organizations.
  • Reducing the number of words to 15 from 20 for the award’s citation.


The nomination form is the most critical document for making the case for elevation to IEEE Fellow. Many nominations are unsuccessful because the information is poorly written or does not follow the requirements. In the committee’s continuing efforts to educate those involved in the Fellow nomination and evaluation process, it has issued three recommendation guides.

The “How to Write an Effective Nomination” guide provides examples and best practices from the perspective of those who are evaluating the nominations. It includes advice on how to choose the right nomination category. These are the categories: application engineer/practitioner, educator, research engineer/scientist, and technical leader.

The guide also describes who makes an effective reference, and suggests when and how to solicit endorsements. It walks the nominator through the form, section by section, helping the person convey the impact of the candidate’s contributions for evaluators who might not be familiar with the specific area of work.

The document also clarifies the difference between references and endorsers. Both support the case for elevation, but they serve different purposes. The references are to provide an independent evaluation of, and support for, the nominee. Therefore, they should be experts in the nominee’s technical field and be familiar with the person’s contributions and the impact they have on the profession, society, or both. All references must be Fellows in good standing, with the exception of those from IEEE Region 9, who may be senior members or life senior members.

An endorser, who does not need to be an IEEE Fellow or otherwise affiliated with IEEE, strengthens the nomination but only by providing specific evidence highlighting the nominee’s contributions and their impact. Endorsements can be helpful for those candidates who perform proprietary or classified work, for which public evidence is often not available. The most effective endorsements come from a company officer, program director, or committee chair of a technical community or standards body.

The “Effective References and Endorsements” guide aims to provide a better understanding of roles and responsibilities. It includes best practices for making effective letters of support, as well a list of things to avoid.

The “Society/Technical Council Evaluators and IEEE Judges” guide includes the best practices for assessing a nominee’s accomplishments. Nominators are encouraged to read this guide to get a better understanding of what evaluators and judges are looking for in the application and how they weigh the supporting information.

All three guides can be found at, under the Fellow Guides header.

IEEE Fellow Stefano Galli is the 2018 IEEE Fellow Committee chair.

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