Enter the 2021 Significance writing competition for early-career statisticians and data scientists

Significance, in partnership with the Young Statisticians Section of the Royal Statistical Society has announced the 2021 Statistical Excellence Award for Early-Career Writing.

This international award celebrates career-young statisticians, data scientists and researchers who can demonstrate the skills necessary for effective communication and who recognise the importance of explaining statistics to non-experts.

The award is now open for entries and welcomes submissions from:

  • students currently studying for a first degree, Master’s or PhD in statistics or related subjects;
  • graduates whose last qualification in statistics or related subjects (whether first degree, Master’s or PhD) was not more than five years ago.

Please help promote the competition in your statistics department or workplace. Download the official poster in landscape or portrait.

The rules of entry are simple: competition entrants are invited to submit their best statistical writing in the form of a magazine article (1,500 to 2,500 words) on any subject they like. Articles will be reviewed by a judging panel, and the winning entry (and up to two runners-up) will be published by Significance later this year.

But what should you write about?

Successful submissions from previous years have been based on original analyses produced specifically for the competition. Past participants have also written about work they have done as part of their studies or during their careers, while some have written about the work of others in the form of a critique or wider overview of a subject area.

Whatever you choose to write about, articles must be engaging and easy to read. Significance is published for a broad audience, so accessibility is key. This means technical terms and mathematics must be kept to a minimum and explained clearly where used.

We recommend you read articles from past winners and finalists to get a sense of the style of writing and storytelling that judges are looking for. A list of published articles from previous years’ competitions can be found here. You should also review Significance’s Notes for Contributors for additional guidance and advice on structuring and presenting your submission.

The competition is open until 23:59 on 31 May 2021. Up to three finalists will be selected in June, with the winner announced in July. Finalists will be invited to give presentations based on their articles at a special session of the Royal Statistical Society International Conference (6–9 September 2021 in Manchester, England).

How to enter

Email your submissions as a text/Word file, or as a PDF, to significance@rss.org.uk. Make sure to include our competition entry form.

Closing date

31 May 2021

Competition rules and guidelines

  • Entrants must be either (1) students currently studying for a first degree, Master’s or PhD in statistics or related subjects, or (2) graduates whose last qualification in statistics or related subjects (whether first degree, Master’s or PhD) was not more than five years ago.
  • Articles must be between 1,500 and 2,500 words in length, and can include tables and figures – though, for space reasons, there should be no more than five tables/figures in total.
  • Writing style must be accessible and engaging.
  • Technical terms and mathematics must be used sparingly, and suitably explained where used.
  • End references are encouraged but should be limited to five.
  • Footnotes must not be used.
  • Only submissions in English will be considered.
  • Manuscripts must be original and not under consideration for publication elsewhere. You may submit articles based on work in theses or in papers that have been submitted to, or accepted by, academic journals, provided that the competition submission is sufficiently different in style and structure.
  • Winners, finalists and entrants from previous years of the competition are not excluded from participating in this year’s competition.
  • Articles will be reviewed by a judging panel featuring representatives of both the RSS Young Statisticians Section and Significance.
  • Up to three finalists will win a full registration to the 2021 Royal Statistical Society International Conference in Manchester, England. Please note that travel and accommodation costs will not be covered.
  • The winning article will be published in Significance magazine.
  • Runner-up articles may be published on the Significance website or in Significance magazine at the editor’s discretion.


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