Statistical excellence in early career writing

Want to get your work published in Significance magazine?
Our annual writing competition, jointly organised with the Young Statisticians Section of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), is for students currently studying for a first degree, masters or PhD in statistics or related subjects, and graduates whose last qualification in statistics or related subjects (whether first degree, masters 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, and the winning entry will be published in Significance magazine. Finalists are also invited to give presentations based on their articles our annual conference.

2020 winner
The winner of the 2020 award is Maria Ibrahim, whose winning article, 'Primum non nocere: First do no harm' will be published in the December 2020 issue of Significance. Read more about the winner.

Previous winners
The 2019 winners, Liam P Shaw and Luke F Shaw, followed in the footsteps of RD Clarke, a British actuary who sought to determine whether the apparent clustering of V‐1 strikes on London during the Second World War was the result of targeting or random chance. The year before that, 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.

Key dates
A call for entries for next year’s award will be issued in February 2021.

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 2020 Royal Statistical Society International Conference in Bournemouth. 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.

Watch our webinar
On 10 April 2019, we hosted a webinar to share tips and advice on crafting an award-worthy article. For a recap of the webinar's content, download speaker presentations from Significance Editor, Brian Tarran and 2018 award winner Letisha Smith.