How a Nobel Prize Winner is Chosen

The Nobel Prize established by Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, and first awarded in 1901, is the ultimate reward of achievement in areas of chemistry, literature, medicine or physiology, physics and peace.  The Nobel Prize awarded annually, has quite a financial reward, approximately worth 1.3 million US dollars for 2009.  But, to most Nobel Prize winners it is not about the money.  It is about the prestige and honor of becoming part of a small group of elites who have rose above their fellow coworkers and become a Nobel Laureate.

The Nobel Prize which has been given to over 800 individuals has not been without controversy.  The process is quite an intensive process from the nomination to the awards ceremony.   The actual prize is chosen by the appropriate institution the makes up the Nobel Foundation.  These institutions were described in Alfred Nobel’s last will and testament when he set aside a substantial part of his estate to reward individuals accomplishments who benefited mankind. 

The Royal Swedish Academy is responsible for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Physics and Economics. 

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet is responsible for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or medicine.

The Swedish Academy chooses the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is responsible for the Nobel Prize in Peace.

An individual must be nominated by a qualified person in the particular field of interest to be considered for a Nobel Prize.  An individual cannot nominate himself or campaign to win a Nobel Prize. The prize is not to be chosen as a popularity contest, but based on one’s achievements.  Each year in the fall before the next year’s Nobel Prize, the Nobel Foundation will send out 500 to 800 nomination packets to institutions and individuals who are academia in the particular field.  For the Nobel Peace Prize nominating forms can be sent to governments, former Nobel Peace Laureates, professors who are highly knowledgeable in applying Nobel’s guidance set forth in his will.  Noble stated the Nobel Prize for Peace  should be given to the individual who done, “… for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding promotion of peace”.

The deadline of nominations is January 31.  Nominees are kept secret and sealed for fifty years.   From this group of nominees, which is usually in the hundreds, each respected committee will narrow down the number down to five to ten individuals.  From there, they will begin intense debate and discussions, on who should be given the prize based on an individuals high achievement. While the committee tries to reach a unanimous decision, often they cannot achieve this.  By a deadline set in early October, if the committee can’t agree on a winner, a majority vote will prevail. 

The Prize winners are announced in November to allow them ample time for the winners to plan to attend the highly prestigious Nobel Prize Awards Ceremonies.  The ceremony is held on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death, in Stockholm, Sweden.  Here they are presented the Nobel Prize Medal, Diploma and document confirming the monetary amount to be awarded.