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The competition


The 2013 competition is now closed.


The Max Perutz Science Writing Award is aimed at encouraging and recognising outstanding communication among MRC scientists. The 2013 competition opens on 13 May and welcomes entries from all MRC-funded PhD students and fellows.


The judges will be looking for an article of up to 800 words that best answers the question, Why does my research matter? The winner will receive a first prize of £1,500.


To celebrate the MRC’s Centenary, we are also offering entrants the chance to take up our 100-word ‘Centenary Challenge’. Tell us how you think your research area might advance within the next 100 years to be in with a chance of winning £500. Pick a year up to 2113 and in no more than 100 words predict the advances that might take place in your area of research.


We will also be awarding a £100 Centenary Prize for the article with the best title.


If you are an MRC-funded PhD student or fellow with an interest in communicating your science to a wider audience, the Max Perutz Science Writing Award is for you.


We want you, in no more than 800 words, to tell us why your research matters in a way that would interest a non-scientific audience. Tell us about your research and why it’s important. Why does it interest you? Why should it interest the reader?


The winning article will be promoted in Times Higher Education, and the winners and runner-ups will also receive cash prizes. All shortlisted entrants are invited to a masterclass with professional writers and will be invited to an awards ceremony at the Science Museum on 25 September.


This year’s prestigious judging panel currently includes: MRC Chairman, Donald Brydon; Channel 4 Newscaster, Jon Snow; Times Higher Education reporter Lizzie Gibney; former New Scientist editor and External Director at the Science Museum Roger Highfield; and last year’s Max Perutz Award winner Dr Andrew Bastawrous from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.


Judging criteria

The judging criteria for the Max Perutz Science Writing Award:

  • Does the article convincingly answer the question why does my research matter?
  • Does the article explain the writer’s research in a way that is easy to understand?
  • Is it a compelling read?

The judging criteria for the £100 Centenary Prize

  • Is the title a true reflection of the article
  • Does it catch your attention and make you want to read on


The article must be based on the research you are doing. This could be on the whole of the project or on one aspect, but it should not be a general review of the area. 


The piece should be aimed at a non-specialist audience; written at a level that an interested member of the public could understand while conveying the significance of your research or key issues. You can find top tips from past judges in ‘The secrets of good science writing’.

Winning entries from previous years are available to give you an idea of what we’re looking for; but please note, unlike some previous years, this year’s competition is asking you to answer a specific question, why does my research matter?

The judging criteria for the Centenary Challenge:

  • Does the writer convey the excitement of their research area in a creative and inspiring way
  • Is it a compelling read

The rules

  • The competition opens on Monday 13 May 2013.
  • The deadline for entries is 23:59 on Sunday 23 June 2013.
  • The Max Perutz Award article should be no more than 800 words, including the title — anything significantly longer will be disqualified. The article should be text only: no diagrams or tables should be included.
  • The Centenary Challenge article should be no more than 100 words; anything significantly longer will be disqualified. The article should be text only, no diagrams or tables should be included.
  • The judges’ decision will be final.



  • All current MRC-funded PhD students and fellows are eligible to enter and may submit one article
    • PhD Student – Current MRC-funded students or fellows who are studying for a PhD
    • Fellow – Current MRC-funded fellow with a personal fellowship at a postdoctoral level

Entry form

Entry form for the Max Perutz Award


Dr Max Perutz

The award is named after the eminent scientist and Nobel laureate Dr Max Perutz, an accomplished and natural communicator, who died in 2002. Since the competition started in 1998, hundreds of MRC researchers have submitted entries and taken their first steps in communicating their science to the public.