Press release

Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize 2014: applications open

The Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize, in association with the 'Guardian' and the 'Observer', is now open for applications. The annual prize is now in its fourth year of seeking and celebrating the next generation of undiscovered science writing talent.

From exploring the nation’s attitude to sex, to highlighting the dangers of antibiotic resistance, to revealing the discovery of primordial gravitational waves, science writing plays an integral role in engaging a wider, non-specialist audience with the latest scientific news and thinking.

Mark Henderson, Head of Communications at the Wellcome Trust and Editorial Director of new science publication Mosaic, said: "Curiosity about science and engagement with new developments should not be limited to those with specialist knowledge. Science writers and journalists play a key role in making complex stories and issues compelling for everyone, while remaining accurate and true to the research they describe.”

Launched in 2011, 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. Entries should demonstrate 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. Previous winners have written about the origins of syphilis, retraining the brains of stroke survivors, and the importance of estimates.

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

Robin McKie, Science Editor of the 'Observer', said: “Understanding science gets us closer not only to an understanding of the world, but to ourselves and our place within it. The best science writing fosters that awareness and encourages non-technical audiences to engage with the latest thinking. This empowers them in the process. Now in its fourth year, the Science Writing Prize is a fantastic way to foster new writing talent, so we look forward to reading all the entries and celebrating the future of science writing.”

Mark Henderson added: “We hope that this year’s prize continues to provide an inspiring opportunity for the next generation of talented and responsible science writers, and we wish all entrants the very best of luck.”

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.

This year, the judging panel will be: Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust; Mark Miodownik, materials scientist and broadcaster; Sophie Scott, group leader of the speech communication neuroscience group at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience; Anjana Ahuja, freelance science journalist and recently awarded Science Commentator of the Year; Nicola Davis, commissioning editor of the 'Observer Tech Monthly'; and Ian Sample, the 'Guardian’s science correspondent.

The deadline for entries is 11 May 2014, and the awards event is scheduled to take place in London in October 2014.