Writing with Significance! Writing competition to celebrate the International Year of Statistics

Author: Kerry Dwan, Laura Gray and Julian Champkin


A joint writing competition hosted by the Young Statisticians Section of the Royal Statistical Society and Significance magazine to celebrate The International Year of Statistics in 2013.

Calling all budding writers within the first 10 years of their statistical career!

• Do you have an idea for an interesting article which would be suitable for Significance?
• Have you always wanted to try your hand at writing in a more journalistic style?
• Are you good at interpreting data?

Then why not write an article and submit it to our competition? This is the second writing competition hosted jointly between Significance and the Young Statisticians Section of the Royal Statistical Society and this year will celebrate the International Year of Statistics for 2013. The first competition, in 2012 was a huge success, with 24 entries and four being published in Significance. Last year’s winning entry can be seen here and one of the runners up here.

Some advice…..what makes a winning entry?

Significance is published by the Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association, and is for anyone interested in statistics and the analysis and interpretation of data. It is primarily a general interest magazine for statisticians, users of statistics and all those interested in statistics. It is not a research journal, and articles are not peer-reviewed (see www.significancemagazine.org/). Articles should be accessible to a wide and non-specialist audience and should be about an area or application of statistics that is of broad relevance or has an important and topical application, in a way that lives up to both meanings of the tagline “Statistics making sense”. Given the success of last year’s competition we are keen to encourage more young writers to put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard! But what have we learnt from last year’s experience that we can share with you – what makes an article submitted to this competition stand out from the crowd?

1. Too many stats

Significance is about making sense of statistics, those statistically minded or not should be able to read and enjoy your article. Pages of algebra are an instant turn-off! An interesting application of a particular method in a new area is great – but the details of the method might be best placed in the reference list and the focus being on the application and interpretation.

2. Not enough stats

Significance is about making sense of statistics; therefore your article should be about statistics! Some of the articles received last year were interesting but there was no statistical content. The winning article demonstrates this concept – there are no formulae or methods but the paper discusses something related to statistics – in this case the teaching of statistics.

3. Topical and novel

We all enjoyed reading articles about the issues of today. Social networking, nuclear disasters, the Olympics – were all topics which we have heard a lot about in the media and it was nice to see a statistical edge to them. Those articles which really inspired us showed novel ideas – we all loved seeing standard statistical methods being used in new and exciting ways!

The rules!

Articles should be between 1800 and 3000 words long and can include tables, figures, images and photographs. Their style should be clear and easy to read – avoid the formal layout of an academic report – and technical terms and mathematics should be used sparingly if at all, and suitably explained. End references are optional, but should be limited to three or four at most.

Anyone is welcome to enter, regardless of membership or affiliation. The only stipulation is that you should be “young” (in career terms, not necessarily in age) – that is, you must be a student or within the first 10 years of your career. The article could be on work that you have done, or it could explain the work of others. 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. The closing date for entry is 1st June 2013. All articles will be assessed by a review committee made up of representatives from both the Young Statisticians Section and Significance. The winning article will be published in Significance. Runner-up articles will be published on the Significance website, or in Significance magazine at the editor’s discretion.

Please email your submissions in a text/Word file or as a PDF, to significance@rss.org.uk. We hope you enjoy writing your piece.

Kerry Dwan, RSS Young Statisticians Section
Laura Gray, Significance
Julian Champkin, Significance

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Antonio coto

Uma em cada dez famílias Moçambicanas tem um computador portátil.

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Sehrish Maraj

when the result will anounce? I have sent the article on 1st June.

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Vaishnavi V


I request you to extend the last date for submission of articles.
 Please do the needful.

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Why only statisticians  within the first 10 years of their statistical career?

I'm really interested in an article about Time Use Surveys and the gap between in gender differences

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There were links to the last year's winning and one of the runner up entries ['last year’s winning entry can be seen here and one of the runners up here']. It felt like they were available for reading/ making references to. 

However, it looks like they can only be purchased. Would it not be possible to make one/ two articles publicly available so that aspiring writers can have the opportunity to read them and get an understanding of the content/ format/ presentation expected?
Many thanks.

[Links to some will be provided shortly. -Ed.]

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Michael Mernagh

I agree fully that “pages of algebra are an instant turn-off.” I do not agree that a statistical article should exclude algebra completely. If formulae are typeset properly, they can look very pleasing to the eye. The general public deserve more credit than we give them. They can handle basic algebra. (Most school leavers are familiar with quadratic equations.) I also believe that articles can be improved by including artistic and meaningful graphs. An ounce of a graph is worth a ton of algebra.

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