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Are you an early-career statistician with the ability to tell data-driven stories in an entertaining and thought-provoking way? If so, we invite you to enter our 2017 writing competition. As in past years, the competition is jointly organised by Significance and the Young Statisticians Section of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS). However, this year the competition forms part of the RSS Statistical Excellence Awards programme, and the prize has been renamed “The Statistical Excellence Award for Early Career Writing”.

“Early career” means students or anyone within the first 10 years of their statistical career – so whether studying, recently graduated or already working, this competition is open to you.

The rules of entry are simple. Send us your best article, of between 1,500 and 2,500 words, on the subject of your choosing. The article could be on work that you have done, or it could explain the work of others. But to stand the best chance of winning, your article really needs to demonstrate the power that statistics has to challenge myths, shape decisions and explain the world around us.

Last year’s winning article, by Adam B. Kashlak, analysed State of the Union addresses throughout history to show how usage of the word “America” by sitting US presidents had changed and increased over time. The previous year, James Skeffington considered whether famed investor Warren Buffett was a genius or just incredibly lucky – which served as a pretext for discussing the Bernoulli process, the cumulative binomial probability formula and expected values.

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 of readers, with varying levels of statistical expertise. This means technical terms and mathematics should be kept to a minimum and explained clearly where used. 

The competition runs until the end of May. 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 Runners-up will also be published online at the editor’s discretion. The winning author and runners-up will be invited to give presentations based on their articles at a special session of the Royal Statistical Society International Conference (4–7 September 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland).

How to enter 
Please email your submissions in a text/Word file or as a PDF, to Make sure to include our competition entry form.

Closing date
29 May 2017

Competition rules and guidelines

  • Entrants must be students, or within the first 10 years of their statistical careers.
  • Articles must be between 1,500 and 2,500 words long, 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 should be used sparingly, and suitably explained.
  • 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, though we welcome magazine articles based on work in theses or in papers that have been submitted to or accepted by academic journals, provided the two are sufficiently different.
  • Articles will be reviewed by a judging panel. Judges will be made up of representatives from both the Young Statisticians Section and Significance.
  • Three finalists will receive a one-day registration to present at the 2017 Royal Statistical Society International Conference in Glasgow, Scotland – but please note that travel and accommodation costs will not be covered.
  • The winning article will be published in Significance magazine, and online at
  • Runner-up articles will be published on the Significance website, or in Significance magazine, at the editor’s discretion.


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