The prestigious awards, supported by RBS Group, ScottishPower Renewables, NVT Group and the Improvement Service, are now in their 14th year.
Winners in nine categories will be honoured at a ceremony at Edinburgh's Prestonfield House Hotel on November 15.
Find out more about the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards
The event will mark the culmination of a year in which a referendum on Scottish independence – the goal of the SNP for 80 years – finally became a reality.
The politicians instrumental in negotiating the format of the historic vote – including First Minister Alex Salmond, his Government's new "Yes minister" Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Secretary Michael Moore – are all likely to be considered for this year's top award.
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont's bold efforts to reform and reposition her party may put her in contention while Holyrood's first woman presiding officer, Tricia Marwick, has earned plaudits for her efforts to make ministers more accountable.
Mr Salmond took the main prize last year after the SNP's stunning election victory.
The contest to decide this year's Scottish Local Politician of the Year, supported by the Improvement Service, is likely to reflect results in May's council elections.
Gordon Matheson, who fought off the Nationalists to lead Labour to victory in Glasgow, will be a strong favourite, although his opposite numbers as leaders of Edinburgh and Aberdeen councils – Andrew Burns and Barney Crockett respectively –are sure to enter the reckoning.
Dunfermline Athletic legend Jim Leishman became Provost of Fife two weeks after being elected as a Labour councillor and may be an outside bet.
The title Best Scot at Westminster appears wide open.
UK ministers Michael Moore, Danny Alexander and Michael Gove, the Scot in charge of England's schools, all have claims. Backbenchers in the frame include Glasgow South MP Ian Davidson, the combative Commons Scottish Affairs Committee chairman, and Tom Greatrex, the Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP who has made an impact as Shadow Energy Minister – and who volunteered as an Olympic "gamesmaker".
This year has also produced a big field for the keenly contested Donald Dewar Debater of the Year award, supported by NVT Group.
Past winners Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney have been as effective as ever at Holyrood, as have serial nominees Alex Neil, Hugh Henry and Gavin Brown.
However, the judging panel is also expected to consider Aberdeenshire West MSP Dennis Robertson, who made a courageous and moving speech about the death of his daughter during a Holyrood debate on eating disorders. And Kenny MacAskill's address to the SNP conference, when he urged delegates to back an independent Scotland's membership of Nato, has forced him into contention.
Stephen Park Brown, managing director NVT Group said: "NVT Group is delighted to be associated with the prestigious annual Herald Politician of the Year awards by sponsoring the Debater of the Year category. NVT promotes lively, interesting and thoughtful discourse in the workplace and with our customers, both at home and abroad.
"We hope all sectors of Scottish society become fully engaged in the independence debate.
"In this way we can each play our part in shaping the future of our great country."
The One to Watch category, recognising the rising stars of Scottish politics, is equally hard to predict.
Last year the title went to Ruth Davidson, who was elected Scots Tory leader just six months after entering Holyrood. But others who missed out 12 months ago have also seen their careers go from strength to strength.
They include the SNP's Humza Yousaf, who was promoted into the Government as Minister for External Affairs and Inter-national Development, and Labour's Kezia Dugdale, who led opposition attacks on the SNP's apprenticeship programme.
The awards introduced a new category last year, marking Political Impact.
This year Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont's controversial plan to review the fairness and affordability of popular universal entitlements makes her an obvious candidate.
Angus Robertson, the prime mover in the SNP's decision to overturn years of opposition to Nato, is also sure to feature on the shortlist.
Like last year, a new category has been introduced for the 2012 awards. Supported by RBS Group, the Politics in Business award aims to recognise the politician or politicians who have engaged most effectively with the business world.
Strong contenders include Enterprise Secretary Fergus Ewing who has won praise for his efforts to streamline red tape in Scotland, and Edinburgh MPs Mike Crockart and Mark Lazarowicz, who worked to support the capital's successful bid to host the new Green Investment Bank.
Commenting on the new award, Ken Barclay, RBS Group's head of corporate banking in Scotland and chairman of the bank's Scotland Board, said: "RBS is delighted to be supporting the first Herald Politics in Business Award.
"It is vital politicians and businesses work together to support the economic recovery.
"RBS is working closely with both the UK and Scottish Governments on a whole range of initiatives and is committed to supporting communities and businesses all across Scotland."
The Public Campaign or Campaigner of the Year award recognises those from outside politics who have made the political world take notice of their cause.
Possible winners include Martha Payne, the Argyll schoolgirl whose school dinners blog became a global sensation and raised more than £100,000 for the Mary's Meals charity in Malawi.
However, the Justice for Megrahi pressure group has continued to press the case for a public inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing trial, while the Equalities Network and Scottish Youth Parliament led the campaign for same-sex marriage.
The judges will also announce a Lifetime Achievement award, supported by ScottishPower Renewables.
Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower Renewables, said: "We value the work being carried out by Parliamentarians across the political spectrum, parti- cularly the work that requires co-operation across the parties, parliaments, industry and communities.
"These awards are undoubtedly one of the highlights in the Scottish political calendar and ScottishPower Renewables is delighted to recognise the achievements of all those who were nominated."
Best Scot at Westminster
One to Watch
Donald Dewar Debater of the Year, supported by NVT Group
Scottish Local Politician of the Year, supported by Improvement Service
Politics in Business, supported by RBS Group
Public Campaign or Campaigner of the Year
Political Impact of the Year
Scottish Power Renewables Lifetime Achievement Award
Scottish Politician of the Year presented by The Herald.
The award categories