Conflict of Interest Policy and Guidelines for YALSA Awards Committees
YALSA affirms its confidence in the integrity of members who are invited to be nominated or appointed to serve on award and/or media evaluation committees, and in the integrity of the officers or nominating committees responsible for selecting candidates. However, because of the nature of the work of such committees, those who serve on them must be especially sensitive to conflict of interest situations as well as the appearance of impropriety.
This policy aims to clarify the eligibility and responsibilities of candidates asked to serve on award and/or media selection committees.
I. The following situations disqualify a candidate:
a. Any member who is employed by, or advisory to, any publishing house or production company that produces materials that would be considered by any of the YALSA award and/or selection committees; or is the author or illustrator of a book, or creator of other materials, to be published or evaluated in the year of committee service.
b. Any member who is already on a YALSA award or selection committee may not serve on an Association Board or an ALA jury (ex. the Schneider Family Jury).
c. Any member who works for a distributor of products that would be evaluated in the year of committee service is not eligible to serve on a selection or award committee.
d. Any member who is already on another Division’s award or selection committee may not serve simultaneously on a YALSA award or selection committee.
e. Any member who is already on a YALSA award or selection committee may not accept a concurrent appointment to an additional YALSA award or selection committee. This rule does not supersede any existing selection or award committee policies.
II. All other members are eligible for nomination or appointment and could include the following situations.
a. A member who serves as a professional reviewer of young adult or adult books or non-print materials.
b. A member person who is involved in the selection of materials for professional tools, such as Jr. High or Sr. High Catalog or Fiction Catalog.
c. A member who serves as a writer or editor of professional books in the field of young adult or adult literature.
All candidates for nomination or appointment have an affirmative duty to notify the nominating committee, or the appointing officer, of any circumstance or event which would disqualify him/her under this policy or which would otherwise affect, or give the appearance of affecting, his/her ability to carry out assigned responsibilities fairly and without self-interest of any kind. A committee member must resign immediately upon the development of any circumstance or event which disqualifies him/her from committee service under this policy, or which would otherwise affect, or give the appearance of tending to affect, his/her ability to carry out assigned responsibilities fairly and without self-interest of any kind. Notice of the resignation should be sent to the YALSA President.
The President of YALSA shall immediately accept such resignations when tendered. In the event a committee member violates this policy without notifying the nominating committee or appointing officer, the President shall so inform the YALSA Board and request the committee member to tender his/her immediate resignation. If a committee member refuses, the YALSA Board shall remove the member. The President shall then appoint a new committee member.
According to the policy above, YALSA members who are reviewers of young adult materials in various venues are eligible to serve on YALSA selection and award committees. However, it is critical that such members maintain the highest ethical and professional standards to protect the reputation of the list or award, the committee, and YALSA. This includes not only avoiding impropriety, but avoiding the appearance of impropriety.
For purposes of these guidelines, "review" is understood to mean a piece of writing that is intended to provide an evaluation of a creative work's suitability for a given audience and/or its marketability as a published work. In general, a wall of separation must be maintained between a member’s work as a reviewer and his or her work as a committee member. This includes the following:
- A reviewer must under no circumstances identify him or herself as a member of a YALSA selection or award committee in the text of a review or, in fact, anywhere in the publication in which the review appears,
- Reviews must not ever mention an item’s eligibility for the award or list.
- Reviewers must refrain from identifying any books or materials eligible for their lists as the “best” of the year. Selection and award committee members must also refrain from posting their opinions about any work related to their list or award committee assignment, such as, for example, touting a nomination on Twitter or using Goodreads to discuss titles under consideration. Providing information about specific titles, other than their qualification as a list/award contender, is acceptable. Attaching your identity as a committee member who will be evaluating those titles for the list or award is not.
Because it is important to not only avoid impropriety, but the appearance of it, YALSA encourages members to carefully weigh their activities outside of committee work and to steer clear of placing themselves into any situation that could possibly be perceived by others as a conflict, or that could possibly lead to an actual conflict. For example, if a committee member has an option in regards to the type of book or material he or she may review, the member is encouraged to choose something that is not eligible for their committee’s list or award.
Committee members should refer to their committee’s policies and procedures for more information about ethical committee behavior, maintaining professional integrity, interacting with publishers, and so on. Members should also refer any questions to their committee chair or board liaison.