The ceremony to present the 2016 Awards was held following the NBN Conference on 17th November, in Hawthornden Court at the National Museums Scotland.

We asked for feedback on the event in order to continually improve proceedings.  This is shown below.

In addition to the prompted questions we asked for specific comments from attendees.  Here is a cross-section of comments received in relation to the UK Awards’ ceremony.


  • It would be good to have the awards ceremony straight after the conference so that more people stay on for it.
  • It would be better to hold these soon after the end of the main session. Waiting around for an hour was too long.
  • It would have been better if the awards were straight after the conference, or after a long enough interval to eat beforehand.
  • Great thing to do and proud to be part of it – keep it as close to the end of conference day as possible
  • Would have preferred less of a gap between conference and awards. Not enough time to leave venue, but a bit too long for just hanging around.
  • As the presentation of awards themselves did not take that much time, it could be fitted into the day itself. Whilst nice to have further networking opportunities, there was a lot of time for this during the event itself (perhaps towards the end of lunch break?). Would be difficult for me to justify attending as a separate event as outlined (feels a bit like an indulgent ‘jolly’!), though I realise that others are in different situations and there can be value in this kind of relaxed networking opportunity and acknowledging people’s achievements is never a bad thing!

Venue / catering

  • The location in the museum was perfect except the specific part of the venue was very ‘echoey’. This made it hard to hear on occasion.
  • Considering that the awards were held before dinner and some time since lunch I would have thought that there would have been something slightly more substantial than bread sticks and peanuts. Also, whilst there was constant supplies of wine being brought round there were no top-ups of water until right at the end of the awards (once my glass had been taken back!)
  • Nibbles were a bit desultory – but at least we didn’t have such a long wait as last year!
  • Perhaps organise a conference meal to keep us all together afterwards?
  • Would be nice to have a meal pre-arranged, rather than making our own plans.

The idea of the ceremony

  • Really good to have a shared evening for networking etc.
  • I won’t ever attend any awards events
  • I must be honest and say that it was mainly a chance to network, and awards bit did not really excite me

Suggestions for 2017

The Awards

  • The handling of the awards needs to be given some thought. It’s a shame that sponsorship hasn’t grown. Perhaps suitable publicity around this year’s other contenders will help. I don’t think we were even told how many people were nominated this year, let alone why or from what counties. Is there any chance of making this a project for some Media student for next year? I just have the impression that so much more could be done with it if there were the capacity for that , which might then help with securing other sponsors.
  • We are giving away too many honorary memberships. You will debase the award at the rate they were given away this year.
  • One idea: category for ‘early career scientist/recorder’, i.e. over 18 but under 30(??)
  • Would be good to announce a shortlist rather than going straight into the winner’s citation
  • It would be good to give more recognition to people and organisations who were shortlisted but didn’t win
  • It’d be great to see some awards for organisations that are supporting the constituent parts of the Network in making data open e.g. by making their data open and then supporting verification somehow.


  • For the second year in a row the lack of female winner was highly noticeable. The only female winners have been someone who had already died (last year) and the group winners this time, but this does not count as they were only representing the group which could be 90% men for all I know. Therefore 0% alive individual women have won the awards so far – which considering the audience female percentage (about 50/50) and all the really inspiring young female speakers we heard and that I spoke to during breaks, it does not give them the drive and inspiration to carry on and further inspire young women.
  • I think it is disgraceful that in the 2 years the awards have been running, not a single living woman has received an award. This is absolutely appalling and in no way reflects the demographic within the network and is an insult to the many hardworking women around the country. The conference talked about how to attract a range of younger people into data recording yet your actions show that to be recognised for individual achievement within the NBN you must be a white male. As a woman in science and data recording in 2016 I expect you lead by example, recognising and reflecting the diversity of gender and race within your members. I am appalled at the message these awards send out. Women (young and old) were well represented at the conference as leaders in their field, as presenters, within the audience and even as the Chief Executive of the NBN, yet the awards did not reflect this. Year 1 I was willing to accept as a fluke but 2 years in a row is unacceptable. If you are not receiving high quality nominations for female candidates you must ask yourself why this is and address it. In 2016 it is not enough to ignore this and continue to perpetuate discrimination against women in this field. I know for a fact that my colleague has nominated a highly achieving woman 2 years in a row now – she is equally if not more deserving than the male winners you selected. Until efforts are made to address this, I will no longer attend these awards and will seriously consider whether it is worth my time to support the NBN itself.

NBN Secretariat comment:

The points made regarding the lack of women winning any of the awards are of particular interest to many of us, including the NBN Secretariat.   We therefore think it may be helpful to explain the process for determining the Award winners.

The process the Awards’ committee follows is to assess all of the nominations based on the information submitted on the forms. The winners in 2015 and 2016 were therefore quite rightly determined on the merit and achievements as per the information given on the nomination forms for each nominee.   Unfortunately if one nominator doesn’t supply as much information as another, the nominee will not fare as well in the overall assessment.  It is only right that all winners are judged in the same way and that has to be based on the facts that are given.  Clearly, decisions cannot be based on personal knowledge of individuals.

For 2017, we have already decided to make the nomination form more in depth in order to help draw out information on each nominee.  We feel this will ensure nominators give more detailed information and examples of the work of the person (s) they are nominating.  We therefore hope that the information submitted for all nominees will include a higher level of detail as to why they should win.  This may well see that some of the amazing women in the Network are recognised as winners, but the final results will continue to be based on merit and nothing else.