The 2019 Statistical Excellence Award for Early-Career Writing is open for entries

Writing competition

Are you an early-career statistician with a statistical story to tell? If so, we invite you to enter the 2019 Statistical Excellence Award for Early-Career Writing. The competition is jointly organised by Significance and the Young Statisticians Section of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) and forms part of the RSS Statistical Excellence Awards programme.

The competition is open to:

1. Students currently studying for a first degree, Master's or PhD in statistics or related subjects.

2. Graduates whose last qualification in statistics or related subjects (whether first degree, Master's or PhD) was not more than five years ago.

The rules of entry are simple: send us your best statistical writing in the form of a magazine article (1,500 to 2,500 words) on any subject you like.

But what should you write about?

Successful submissions from past years were based on original analyses, produced specifically for the competition. This does take work, but it often results in a unique and compelling article.

For example, last year’s winner, Letisha Smith, scraped online recipes and used clustering algorithms to group together foods with similar ingredients to help streamline meal plans and reduce food waste. The year before that, Kevin Lin analysed user activity on the social media site Reddit to investigate whether young people were becoming more engaged with political news and topics.

You might also write about work you have done as part of your studies or during your career. However, if these articles draw on previously published work, you must ensure that the competition submission is sufficiently different in terms of style and structure. Remember, Significance is a magazine, not an academic journal.

You can also write about the work of others, but this must be in the form of a critique or wider overview of a subject area.

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

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. 

The competition is open until 27 May 2019. Three finalists will be selected in June, with the winner announced in July at the RSS Statistical Excellence Awards ceremony. The winning article will be published in the October issue of Significance and online at significancemagazine.com. Runners-up may also be published online or in print at the editor’s discretion.

Finalists will be invited to give presentations based on their articles at a special session of the RSS International Conference (2–5 September 2019 in Belfast).

How to enter

Email your submissions as a text/Word file, or as a PDF, to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Make sure to include our competition entry form.

Closing date

27 May 2019

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 Young Statisticians Section and Significance.
  • Three finalists will win a full registration to the 2019 Royal Statistical Society International Conference in Belfast. Please note that travel and accommodation costs will not be covered.
  • The winning article will be published in Significance magazine and online at significancemagazine.com.
  • Runner-up articles may be published on the Significance website or in Significance magazine at the editor’s discretion.