Since we announced our essay competition last month, we’ve had a few questions regarding eligibility and one or two other queries. We’ve replied individually to each query, but just in case there is any confusion out there, this is what we had to say:
1. Are high-school students eligible?
If you are currently a student (at high school, or at university studying for an undergraduate or graduate degree, or at an equivalent institution studying for an equivalent qualification) you are eligible.
2. I’ve finished my undergraduate degree but haven’t started a PhD yet — am I eligible?
Yes, as long as it is no more than five years since you completed your undergraduate degree as of 1st August 2011.
You are also eligible if you are no longer a PhD student or a postdoc — as long as it is no more than five years (on 1st August 2011) since you finished your PhD/postdoc.
3. I’m studying something other than science/chemistry, can I enter?
Yes. You don’t have to be a chemistry/science student to enter, and anyone who is no more than 5 years (on 1st August 2011) from their last formal stint of education — from high-school right up through to postdoc — is eligible to enter.
4. I’ve written something that has been published in a magazine/journal already — can I still enter?
Yes. As long as you fulfill the criteria, you can still enter. What we don’t want are essays from professional science writers who make their main living from science writing. If you’re just starting out on that path (and you still fall under the five-year-rule), then you are more than welcome to submit.
5. Are we allowed to include pictures with our submission?
You can if you wish, it would certainly do no harm to include images.
Try not to make your essay reliant on the picture, however, because should your essay be selected as one of the winning ones, we would then need to make sure the figure would be suitable for publication — and that might lead to complications if we can’t use your suggested image and your essay refers to it a lot.
Getting permissions to use images isn’t always quick and/or easy — and that is why for the In Your Element pieces we have published so far, we have typically used generic royalty-free stock images.
We also recommend that you avoid using technical figures or schematics — these are meant to be easy-read type articles.
With all that said, yes, you are free to include pictures, but you may wish to bear in mind the points made above and be aware that we might not be able to use your suggested image.
And don’t forget that, as well as current affairs in industrial or academic research, we are looking for some anecdotes or interesting stories – perhaps about the element’s history, or its reactivity, or an unusual application. There are some examples of In Your Element articles that we have already published that you can use for guidance (see this post), and we’ve announced who our external judges are.
Anne Pichon (Associate Editor, Nature Chemistry)