Judges in Competitions – What You Need to Know

When it comes to different roles and professions, a judge is one the most well-respected ones out there. When you talk about a judge, many would picture a person in a black robe while presiding over court proceedings.

In law, judges play many different roles. They examine the evidence present, control how trials and hearings unfold in their courtrooms, interpret the law that governs the nation. The most important part of being a judge is to be impartial in the pursuit of justice. The judge should be capable of providing an independent and impartial examination of the facts and how they correlate with the law.

This role is also quite similar to the people who are judging science fairs and competitions. For this article, we’re going talk about judges in contests or competitions.


What is a Competition or Contest?

A competition is an event or activity where skill or knowledge is required to win.

Unlike the lottery where the winner is randomly drawn and mostly involves luck, in a competition, participants are expected to take actions that require some degree of wit or skill. The degree of wit or skill required will depend on what’s being asked of the participants.

For example, students submit their papers for comprehensive research competition in social sciences.


The Judging Criteria

The best way to protect the integrity of a contest or competition is by defining the judging criteria.

All competition events need the agency or sponsor to set clear judging criteria so the competitors will know how their works or performance will be judged. The judging criteria are very important for the judges because these metrics tell them what to look for in a participant, so they can assign the right points.

As the marketer of the event, setting a clear set of criteria will potentially save you a lot of trouble and complaints. Below is an example of judging criteria for a science project:

  • Scientific Thought (30%): The information collected must be accurate and complete. Variables should be clearly defined.
  • Creative Ability (30%): The uniqueness of the project. The exhibit should demonstrate a unique approach or original thinking.
  • Clarity (10%): The information in the project are organized and clearly communicated.
  • Technical Skill (10%): Written content must demonstrate attention to spelling and grammar.
  • Understanding (10%): The project explains what the students have learned about the subject. ‘
  • Dramatic Value (10%): The presentation looks visually pleasing and well-constructed.

For a total of 100%.

The criteria are set to help both the participants and judges to focus. Properly developed criteria aim to eliminate the unconscious biases from the judges. They will instead focus their attention on the qualities that will be weighed and then assign the right point value.


Picking the Judges for the Competitions

A judge by definition aims to designate total points or values to each of the entries and select the winner based on the total points earned.

Ideally, the mediator should be experts or have some degree of expertise about the topic that they will be judging. This is not really an absolute requirement. However, participants feel that they are being judged fairly because the ones who chose the winner are experts.

If you are unable to find experts for the competition, you can enlist a person or group that understands the criteria and has no bias or conflicts of interest. On top of the criteria, it is preferable that the judges have seen enough examples of the performance or work that’s being judged. This is to help them determine what’s considered good, average, or poor based on the criteria.


During the Competition

It is best to separate the judges from the rest of the audience, so they can’t be distracted or influenced. At any point, the judges should not interact with the participants or the audience until the contest is over.

The judges should also not talk among themselves about their scores – each should assign their scores independently. After all, participants have presented, all evaluation sheets must be turned in immediately. This doesn’t just keep the competition moving, this also ensures that the judges are scoring independently.

The judges will not be able to revisit their scores once they are turned in.


The Bottom Line

No science competition or contest will be complete with judges. They are trusted with choosing the winners so they have to be impartial and safe from outside influence.

One thing to remember is that each judge is a person of his own. They all come from different backgrounds, both personally and professionally. Thus, it’s fair to expect that no two judges will approach a submission from the same perspective.

The judge meaning is all about impartiality and integrity. Make sure that you clearly define the criteria for judging in order to preserve the integrity of your event.

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