ASI/H.W. Wilson Award for Excellence in Indexing
Presented at the American Society of Indexers' Annual Dinner
Pasadena, California, June 2005
Six members of the jury for the ASI/H.W.Wilson Award for Excellence in Indexing met on March 12, in Bellevue, Washington, to evaluate the twelve works nominated for the 2005 award. The jury was pleased to note that the nominated books covered a wide range of subject matter, from computer manuals to esoteric scholarly works, and from thin paperbacks to multivolume sets. All of the nominated books were challenging to index, and their indexers universally displayed creativity in providing access to the content. However, at the end of our daylong meeting, it was the consensus of the committee that none of the indexes could be considered an exemplar for other indexers to follow. We therefore announce with great regret that the award will not be presented in 2005.
The fact that no award will be presented this year does not reflect on the quality of the individual works that were nominated. Almost every index submitted would be considered excellent by the average index user. However, the Wilson Award is not presented for Best in Show among the works nominated. The judging process the represents the ultimate in peer review by highly experienced indexers who are looking for excellence in all those areas that define a truly great index, including elegantly worded headings and subheads, accurate locators, balanced treatment of subtopics, appropriate use of cross-references, a limited number of undifferentiated locators, consistent double postings and flips, and appropriate treatment of the metatopic.
And because it serves as model for all indexers to follow, a Wilson Award winner must excel in every area not only in the quality of the index but in quality of presentation. An otherwise excellent index may be negatively affected by factors that are outside the control of the indexer: bad column breaks, orphan headings, incorrect indents, or lack of continued lines. And a judiciously worded head note a rarity among this years submissions can provide an essential explanation as to why an unusual indexing style or approach was appropriate for that work. The award recognizes both the indexer and the publisher; so the work of both must be rated as excellent if an award is to be presented.
It should be noted that the Wilson Award judging is a totally blind process. Nominated books are received by the registrar, who does not participate in the judging process. The registrar verifies that the submission meets all criteria for consideration, handles any necessary follow-up with the submitter, and carefully screens each book to conceal all references to the indexers name before passing the books on to the committee for judging. And on the day of the judging, any judge who knows (or suspects) the identity of an indexer must recuse herself from discussing or voting on that particular index. Therefore, extraneous materials (index reviews or references) submitted with the book will never be seen by the jury.
We urge all indexers to consciously apply the Wilson award criteria (which are posted on the ASI website) to the indexes they write this year and to regularly submit their work to peers for feedback thru a chapters peer review process or by participation in the IndexPeers discussion list. If you live in an area without a formal peer review process, consider starting your own group. Authors have their work edited and proofread before publication, and indexers can benefit from the same process while gaining the self-confidence to submit their best work for the Wilson Awards penultimate peer review. In addition, we urge publishers to seek the input of their indexers in designing index layouts and styles that truly reflect the best in indexing standards for books to be nominated for the 2006 award.
The Committee would like to thank all those publishers and indexers alike who nominated indexes for this years award. And we especially want to acknowledge and thank Ann Case and the H.W. Wilson Company for their continuing support of the Wilson Award for Excellence in Indexing.
Id like to close by recognizing and thanking the other members of the 2005 Wilson Committee for their hard work this year: Louise Martin, Martha Osgood, Janet Perlman, Sherry Smith, Nancy Cisneros (registrar), Deborah Patton (who will serve as chair of the 2006 Committee), and Enid Zafran, who was unable to attend the judging.
Carolyn G. Weaver
Chair, Wilson Award Committee
Criteria and Process