NASW Science in Society Awards Frequently Asked Questions

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What types of works are eligible to enter?

English language works first published between January 1 and December 31 of the contest year are eligible. There is no geographic restriction on where a publication/outlet is based. Self-published works such as blogs are eligible for the awards. However, unpublished works such as class assignments are not. There is no distinction within categories for different types of media; all media formats may be submitted in any category, with the exception of the Books category.

For the Books category, you may enter a book-length work that has been published and made commercially available, either in print or as an ebook.

What is the deadline to enter?

The deadline to enter is February 1, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. EST / 8:59 p.m. PST (3:59 a.m. GMT February 2). In the interest of fairness, we are not able to make extensions.

How do I know if my entry was submitted correctly?

Successfully submitted entries will receive a confirmation email, generally within moments of submission. The sender will be awards@nasw.org, and the subject line will be "Entry Confirmation: NASW's Science in Society Journalism Awards." You may also log in to http://nasw.secure-platform.com to view your completed entries via the My Entries tab at any time. Please note that we cannot advise you of an entry's status during the contest.

What does "Science in Society" mean?

The Science in Society Journalism Awards recognize investigative or interpretive reporting about the sciences and their impact on society – works that move well beyond the science itself and delve into ethical problems and social implications for communities and society at large. We consider diversity in topics, sources, audience and authors to be a crucial component of excellence. Entries that describe significant advances in science, but do not demonstrate a clear relevance to broader society, do not meet the standards of the awards. (See "What are some common reasons for disqualification?" below.).

Judging committees carefully evaluate how well an entry illustrates the societal impact of science. In doing so, they assess:

  • whether an entry addresses issues of clear significance to society and which groups or sections of society are affected.
  • whether an entry brings a new and nuanced understanding of an issue, or whether previously overlooked perspectives are brought to the fore.

Over the many years of the competition, award winners and finalists have demonstrated the societal impact of science in many different ways. Please find a full list of past winners here, along with comments from the judges about why these entries in particular stood out.

Good luck with your submission!

What are some common reasons for disqualification?

Any entry that does not meet the various eligibility criteria outlined in our contest rules will be disqualified. That said, here are some reminders to help your entry make it to the judges.

  1. Entries with missing information: Please remember to upload your PDF or enter a URL (or both) and save the entry before hitting submit!
  2. Incorrect or inaccessible URLs: Please make sure that your URL is typed correctly. If screeners or judges encounter a paywall (fees, passwords, or required registration) at any time during the awards cycle, an entry will be disqualified. Publications may change their paywall restrictions during the judging period. For this reason, we recommend that a PDF also be provided.
  3. Publication date: Works must be first published between January 1 and December 31 of the contest year. Entries open on December 1 of the contest year.
  4. Word counts and broadcast/mixed-media lengths: Please make careful note of the category length restrictions. Any entry that is under the category minimum (if any) or over the category limits (if any) will be disqualified.
  5. Entries must demonstrate a clear connection to societal impact.
  6. Multiple entries in a single category:
    1. An author may be represented only once in each category. In the case of multiple entries in a single category on the same author's behalf, only the entry provided by the author themselves will be considered. If none was submitted by the author, the one with the earliest timestamp will be considered. If an author enters multiple of their own works in the same category, none will be considered. Moreover, if an author submits the same work in multiple categories, none will be considered.
    2. However, an individual entrant may also submit in a given category as a part of a team.
    3. For multiple team submissions, please make sure that the majority* of a team is not represented more than once in any given category. In such an instance, all entries will be disqualified. *In this context, "majority" refers to half, or more than half, of the members of the team.
  7. Miscategorized entries: Please make careful note of the category definitions and enter into the correct category.
  8. Past winners:
    1. Winners from the previous year are not eligible to participate in the competition in any category. This includes any individual entrant or team, where the majority has won in the previous year.
    2. If an individual entrant, or the majority of a team, has won the SiS Awards three times, they are no longer eligible to participate.

My article was updated after the end of the contest period. Is it still eligible?

Sometimes an article is updated after publication to make corrections or to add new information. If an article notes an "updated" date that is outside the competition's eligibility window, but the submitted story itself does not describe the update (i.e., that a specific correction or clarification was made to the text), you must include a note describing the nature of the update. If substantive changes were made to the article outside the eligibility period that affect the narrative or major points in the article, then the article may be disqualified.

What if my entry does not have a byline on the published article?

Entries without a byline will be accepted if the entrant provides written confirmation from a supervising editor that the entrant is the author of the submitted work. Submit the editor's statement as a PDF with your entry.

What happens if two (or more) people enter the same article in a category?

Only one entry will be considered. It is often the case that the author as well as someone at the publication has submitted the same entry. In this instance, only the author's version will be considered. If neither entry was submitted by the author, then the entry with the earliest time stamp will be considered. Please note that multiple entries submitted by the same individual will all be disqualified.

I won a Science in Society award last year. Can I enter again?

Thank you for your continued interest in our awards!

Unfortunately, the previous year's winners are not eligible to enter in the subsequent competition year. However, you are welcome to enter again thereafter.

I have an article I want to submit, but my colleague is submitting a package we worked on together in the same category. Can I still enter my article?

Yes, you may submit one entry as an individual entrant in a category and be represented as a part of a team in that same category.

Please note that multiple teams from the same publication or media outlet are eligible to submit in a given category provided that the majority of any given team is not represented more than once.

In this context, "majority" refers to half or more than half the members of that particular team.

My series has more than three components. Why can I only enter three?

Series can vary considerably in the number of components and length. In the interest of consistency across entries and in judging, we ask that you submit a minimum of two, and up to three components, that best represent your series.

Is there a length restriction for Commentary or Series?

These categories do not have specific word counts/broadcast time restrictions. However, we ask that:

  • A Commentary entry be limited to a single article or broadcast.
  • A Series entry be limited to a minimum of two articles or broadcasts to represent the series, and no more than three, for consideration in the competition.

How do I calculate my entry's word count?

For articles, we consider the word count of the article text only, and exclude headlines, subheadings, photo captions and infographic text. You may use the word count feature of word processing software such as Microsoft Word or online tools such as Word Counter (https://wordcounter.net/) to calculate your entry's word count.

For mixed media (text + video, text + audio, etc.), each minute of audio/video is considered equivalent to 350 words.

How are word counts and broadcast lengths enforced?

Verifying word counts and broadcast lengths is an integral part of our screening process. Any entry that does not meet the stated category length restrictions will be disqualified.

Word counts are calculated for the article text only; subheads and photo captions are excluded from the total. We understand that article lengths in a given category may sometimes fall just a bit under or over the stated limits. In the interest of being fair to all entrants, we only allow for a narrow margin of 1% above or below the stated category word count for an entry to still be eligible for consideration.

The entirety of a broadcast must fall within the stated lengths for a given category. If you wish to submit an edited audio file that excludes elements that are not judged – such as advertisements, billboards and credits – you may do so, only if the submitted entry is not materially altered from the original version as a result of such cuts.

For mixed media (text + video, text + audio, etc.), each minute of audio/video is considered equivalent to 350 words.

My publication is subscription only. Can I still enter?

Yes. To ensure that our judges are able to access your entry and evaluate it fairly, we strongly encourage you to submit a PDF of your entry, credentials to access your entry online, or preferably both. If at any point, judges are not able to access your article because of a required subscription, a metered paywall, or any other reason, your entry will be disqualified. It is the entrant's responsibility to note any barriers to access and how they may be removed so judges can access the article.

Should I submit a URL or a PDF?

While URLs are accepted (provided they remain freely accessible, or can be accessed by credentials throughout the contest period – at least through October) we strongly encourage the submission of PDFs with all of our entries.

Publications may change their paywall restrictions over time, so providing a PDF along with the URL is helpful in making sure your entry is not disqualified. You may also provide access credentials for a URL, if you prefer not to submit a PDF.

How do I make a PDF?

Most browsers allow you to save a webpage as a PDF. Select Print, and then for destination, select "Save as PDF." Here are a few other options:

How do I participate as an international entrant?

This year, we have opened up the competition to submissions from international publications and outlets. We accept English-language works first published or broadcast between January 1 and December 31 of a given competition year. Please note that we are not accepting works translated into English at this time.

The entry fee for non-members is $45. However, NASW offers a reduced hardship membership rate of $25 for its international professional membership residing in low and middle income countries. NASW members can enter the competition at no cost.

In addition, members of AAJA, NABJ, NAHJ, IJA, NLGJA, SACNAS, SAJA, the Trans Journalists Association, and the Uproot Project can also enter at no cost.

My question isn't answered here. Who can I ask?

Please email awards@nasw.org with any questions. We're here to help!

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