Press release

Applications open for the Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize 2013

The hunt is on to find the next generation of undiscovered science writing talent: applications open today for the annual Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize, in association with the ‘Guardian’ and the ‘Observer’.

From the discovery of the Higgs boson to the ethics of synthetic biology, the best science writing shares the excitement, wonder and delight of research with a wider, non-specialist audience, telling terrific stories without compromising on accuracy. It also plays a crucial part in engaging the public with scientific issues that affect society today.

The annual award invites non-professional science writers based in the UK to submit short articles of no more than 800 words that address an area of science in an accessible way. The articles should show a passion for science and encourage the general public to consider, question and debate the key issues in science and society. Both traditional newspaper features and web-based features that use the medium in an innovative and appropriate way will be considered.

The winners will have their work printed in the 'Guardian' or the 'Observer' and receive a £1000 cash prize. Shortlisted entrants will have the chance to attend a science writing workshop at the Guardian's office in London.

Alok Jha, science correspondent at the 'Guardian', who helped establish the prize in 2011, said: "Science is a powerful, useful way to understand the world. Scientific ideas have never been more important to the decisions we have to make in our daily lives.

"To make these ideas part of our national conversation, we need more people to write about them for non-technical audiences, to enthral and empower everyone with the latest scientific thinking. Now in its third year, the Science Writing Prize is an exciting way to do that and, we hope, bring new writers to the fore. We look forward to reading the entries and showcasing the winners."

Mark Henderson, Head of Communications at the Wellcome Trust and former Science Editor of 'The Times', added: "There's a real appetite among the public to engage with science and keep abreast of new developments, and science writers play a pivotal part in feeding it.

"We hope to support and inspire the next generation of responsible and high-calibre science writers, who can tell a compelling story that keeps readers engaged but that is still true to the research it describes. The judges will be looking for writers whose work shows they have thought hard about how best to reach public audiences. Best of luck to all the entrants."

Prizes will be awarded in two categories: the first is for professional, funded scientists of postgraduate level and above, and the second is open to anyone with a non-professional interest in science, including undergraduate students. Entrants must demonstrate originality, bright ideas, accuracy and a distinctive writing style.

The judging panel includes Carole Cadwalladr, Features Writer for The 'Observer'; James Randerson, Environment and Science News Editor for the 'Guardian'; Hilary Leevers, Head of Education and Learning at the Wellcome Trust; Dorothy Bishop, Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology and a Wellcome Principal Research Fellow at the Department of Experimental Psychology in Oxford; Helen Czerski, physicist, oceanographer and broadcaster; and Maggie Philbin, CEO of TeenTech.

The deadline for entries is 28 April 2013, and the awards event is scheduled to take place in London in October 2013.