Young Statisticians Writing Competition 2016

The 2016 Young Statisticians Writing Competition was won by Adam Kashlak, whose paper appears in the October 2016 issue.

Written by Brian Tarran - Editor, Significance

yss writing competitionCan you tell a 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 now under way.

The rules are simple. Send us your best article, of between 1,500 and 2,500 words, on the subject of your choice. 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 2016 edition of Significance and on Runners-up will also be published online.

Last year’s winner, James Skeffington, asked whether investor Warren Buffett was a genius or just incredibly lucky, which served as a pretext for discussing the Bernoulli process, the cumulative binomial probability formula and expected values. Of our two runners-up, Samantha Tyner described a machine-led approach to image analysis as an alternative to FiveThirtyEight’s manual coding of the paintings of Bob Ross, while Annie Herbert applied Bayesian methods to six series’ worth of Great British Bake Off data in an attempt to predict the TV show’s winners and losers.

Whatever you choose to write about, please follow these basic guidelines:

  • Articles must be interesting, engaging and easy to read.
  • Technical terms and mathematics must be kept to a minimum, and explained clearly where used.
  • Readers should finish your article knowing more about statistics, or the application of statistics, than they did before.

Three finalists will be invited to present their work at a special session of the Royal Statistical Society International Conference (5–8 September 2016, Manchester, UK) and that is where the overall winner will be announced.

How to enter

Please email your submissions in a text/Word file or as a PDF, to Closing date 28 May 2016

Competition rules

  • 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 must 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 win a one-day registration to the Royal Statistical Society International Conference 2016 in Manchester, 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.