Young Statisticians Writing Competition: write with Significance!

Author: Jennifer Rogers

We’re on the lookout for the next Tim Harford – someone that can tell a complex statistical story in an entertaining and thought-provoking way? If you think you’ve got what it takes, and are within the first 10 years of your statistical career, we want to hear from you.

Each year, Significance and the Young Statisticians Section of the Royal Statistical Society hosts a competition to promote and encourage top-class writing about statistics. This year’s competition closes on 30 May 2014.

The rules of entry are simple. Send us your best article, of between 1,800 and 3,000 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.

Last year’s winner, Damjan Vukcevic, wrote about using probability distributions to decide how many people to invite to his wedding. You can read his article here, or listen here to his interview with Tim Harford on BBC Radio 4’s More or Less.

Our other finalists wrote about predicting children's blood groups, the workforce participation of disabled persons, and public views of the statistical profession and statistical tests.

It doesn’t matter what you choose to write about, as long as you follow these basic guidelines:

  • The article should be interesting, engaging and easy to read.
  • Technical terms and mathematics should be kept to a minimum, and explained clearly where used.
  • Readers go away knowing more about statistics than they did before.

Three finalists this year will be invited to present their work at a special session of the Royal Statistical Society Conference in Sheffield, and that is where the overall winner will be announced. The winning article will be published in Significance.

How to enter
Please email your submissions in a text/Word file or as a PDF, to

Closing date
30th May 2014

Competition rules

  • Entrants must be students, or within the first 10 years of their statistics careers.
  • Articles should be between 1,800 and 3,000 words long, and can include tables, figures, images and photographs.
  • Writing 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 four.
  • 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.
  • All articles will be assessed by a review committee. The judges will be made up of representatives from both the Young Statisticians Section and Significance.
  • Three finalists will win a one-day registration to the Royal Statistical Society Conference 2014 in Sheffield – but please note that travel and accommodation costs will not be covered.
  • The winning article will be published in Significance magazine.
  • Runner-up articles will be published on the Significance website, or in Significance magazine, at the editor’s discretion.

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