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Are you an early-career statistician with the ability to write data-driven stories in an entertaining and thought-provoking way? If so, we invite you to enter the 2018 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 article, of between 1500 and 2500 words, on the subject of your choosing.

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

Last year’s winner, Kevin Lin, analysed user activity on the social media site, Reddit, to see whether young people were now more engaged with political news and topics. The year before that, Adam B. Kashlak won for his analysis of State of the Union addresses throughout history, showing how use of the word “America” by sitting US presidents had increased over time.

You can write about work you have done as part of your studies, or during your career, but 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.

Whatever you choose to write about, articles must be engaging and easy to read. Significance is published for a broad audience 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 may also be published online or in print 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 RSS International Conference (3–6 September 2018 in Cardiff, Wales).

We’ve produced a poster to promote the competition. Please help us to reach early-career statisticians in your school, workplace or university department by downloading and displaying the poster.

How to enter

Email your submission as a text/Word file or PDF to Make sure to include our competition entry form.

Closing date

28 May 2018

Competition rules and guidelines

  • Entrants must be (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 1500 and 2500 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 2018 Royal Statistical Society International Conference in Cardiff, Wales. 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 may be published on the Significance website or in Significance magazine, at the editor’s discretion.

Writing tips

Get advice from our editors, Brian Tarran and Robert Matthews, and past finalists, Jonathan Auerbach and Samantha Tyner, in the video below.

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