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The 2015 Young Statisticians Writing Competition

The 2015 Young Statisticians Writing Competition

Can you 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 host a competition to promote and encourage top-class writing about statistics. This year’s competition is underway.

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. The winning article will be published in the October 2015 edition of Significance and on Runners-up will also be published online.

Last year’s winner, Jonathan Auerbach, used public data and a variation on capture-recapture methodology to counter the myth that New York City is home to as many rats as people. Following publication of his prize-winning article, write-ups of his work appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Daily Mail, Newsweek, China Daily and Japan Times.

Of our two runners-up, Nathan Cunningham used Google search data to investigate the claim that Christmas comes earlier each year, while Katie Saunders compared survey data to medical records to check whether patient ethnicity is correctly recorded. Nathan’s analysis was widely reported in the UK and Ireland, including on the front page of the Daily Telegraph, while Katie’s research was covered by The Guardian.


It doesn’t matter what you choose to write about, so 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 finish the article knowing more about statistics than they did before.


Significance and the Young Statisticians Section of the Royal Statistical Society

The 2015 Young Statisticians Writing Competition


  • Three finalists will win a one-day registration to the Royal Statistical Society Conference 2015 in Exeter, UK – 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.


May 30, 2015


  • Entrants must be students, or within the first 10 years of their statistics careers.
  • Articles should be between 1,500 and 2,500 words long, and can include tables, figures, images and photographs.
  • Writing style must be clear and easy to read.
  • Avoid the formal layout of an academic report – the article should read like a magazine feature.
  • Technical terms and mathematics should be used sparingly, 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 be invited to present their work at a special session of the Royal Statistical Society International Conference (7–10 September, Exeter, UK) and that is where the overall winner will be announced.


For inquiries, please write to


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