Behind the scenes of the PROSE Awards judging

14 experts meet to select the best scholarly books, journals and e-products of 2012

Scholars, librarians and editors from around the US gathered in New York January 7 and 8 to select the winners of the 2012 PROSE Awards.

Sponsored by the Professional/Scholarly Publishing (PSP) Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), the PROSE Awards, now in its 37th year, recognize books, journals and electronic products that contribute to professional and scholarly publishing while also maintaining the highest editorial and design standards. [caption id="attachment_12450" align="alignright" width="151"] John A. Jenkins[/caption]

John A. JenkinsThe winners will be announced February 7 at the PROSE Awards luncheon of the PSP Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

"We were very honored to have such a prominent panel of judges, each with a resume of notable accomplishments from some of the most impressive companies and universities across the globe," said PROSE Awards Chairman John A. Jenkins. "I'm confident that with the quality of the submissions this year, they faced a daunting task to choose the winners."

'A daunting task'

With 518 entries to review in 2012 – the highest number of entries in PROSE Awards history –  the judging panel certainly faced a mammoth challenge.

The judging took place over a two-month period, in November and December, during which each book-category judge reviewed the entries for their subject categories. There are 43 book subject categories, ranging from Archeology & Anthropology to Clinical Medicine to Engineering & Technology to US History, with most judges covering multiple categories. [note color="#f1f9fc" position="right" width=400 margin=10 align="alignright"]

Awards Webcast and Real-time Tweeting

A webcast of the awards presentation will be streamed from the PROSE Awards website, and PROSE will  host a Twitter chat with Awards Chairman John Jenkins, PSP Project Coordinator Kate Kolendo and some of the judges tweeting from the event. The hashtag is #PROSEAwards[/note]

Journals and e-products have their own award categories and are judged separately by the PSP Journals Committee and Electronic Information Committee, respectively. Members of these committees, made up of experts in the publication of journals and e-products from PSP member companies, review each entry for design, functionality and innovation, and report their findings to their committees, which then do a full review of each entry.

The committees select the journal and e-product category winners, and a liaison from each committee presents those recommendations at the judging panel in January. Subject category judges are given information about and access to the journals and e-products in their subject area and are invited to the meetings when the committees review the products to weigh in on each journal and eproduct's contribution to the field of study.

Behind closed doors

In January, the subject category judges and Journals and EIC liaisons assemble for two days in the cozy AAP headquarters on the second story of an office building on Fifth Avenue in downtown Manhattan. There, in a brightly painted conference room that never sees the light of day, they will decide on all the awards.

Judges each give a brief oral presentation describing the two to three books they think are the best in their category. All the judges then discuss the scope of the work, including originality and potential long-term implications. Following this discussion, they select the best book from each subject category for the award in that subject field.

After all the subject category winners, including journal and e-product winners, are determined, five PROSE Awards for Excellence, are given to one of the individual winners from within each of the five broad divisional rubrics: physical sciences and mathematics, social sciences, humanities, biological and life sciences, and reference works. From these divisional winners, one selection is designated as the best scholarly work of the year. This book is awarded the RR Hawkins Award, which memorializes Reginald Robert Hawkins, the former Chief of the Science and Technology Division of the New York Public Library.

While intense, the meeting of the judging panel is an event judges say they enjoy, and many serve on the panel year after year.

Beatrice Rehl"The PROSE judging process sharpens one's publishing skills," said Dr. Beatrice Rehl, Publishing Director for Humanities and Social Sciences at Cambridge University Press, based in New York.

Joseph Alpert, MD"While reading each nominated book, I consider a variety of issues carefully: Does the title accurately reflect the content? Is the trim size and overall design presentation appropriate? Is the text the right length for the subject? Should this topic have been published as a book, or is it an article that got out of control? There are many things that can go wrong in the publishing process; the winning books are those where all of the elements of astute publishing have come together."

"For me, the most rewarding aspect of the PROSE judging sessions consists of the presentations I hear from other judges, each of whom is an expert in their respective area," said Dr. Joseph Alpert, Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and Editor in Chief of The American Journal of Medicine.  "I learn a great deal about different areas of intellectual activity, most of them far from my own field of expertise."The experience of being a judge at this smorgasbord of intellectual offerings is one that I savor for the rest of the year," he added. "As a life-long academic, I take great pleasure in viewing impressive work done in other fields."

For more information about the awards, please visit and follow @PROSEAwards on Twitter.

The 2012 PROSE Awards Judging Panel


Elsevier Connect Contributor

Kate KolendoKate Kolendo is the Project Manager for the Professional & Scholarly Publishing (PSP) Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP). She came to the AAP five years ago after spending four years simultaneously running a theatrical production company and working as the American Programs Coordinator at Young Judaea/Hadassah. After earning at BA in English from Barnard College, she spent several years in advertising sales, marketing and promotions in the magazine industry, working for The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine and The Atlantic.  A food and drink enthusiast, she blogs about her epicurean experiences.[divider]

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