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How to Be Published in Significance

1 May 2023 No Comment

Anna Britton

What is the secret to being published in Significance magazine, and what is the editorial process? Significance editor Anna Britten tells us.

Who is the audience for Significance magazine?

Significance  is for anyone interested in statistics and the analysis and interpretation of data. Many of our readers are members of the American Statistical Association and Royal Statistical Society, work as statisticians and data experts, or teach or study related subjects. But, crucially, the magazine also reaches a more mainstream audience of intelligent, curious people who have no formal statistics background but enjoy reading about how statistics explains the world around them.

Do you have to be a statistician to write for Significance?

No. We publish plenty of articles by specialists in other areas who happen to use statistics in their research or job. For example, historians, medics, economists, sports scientists, linguists, zoologists, sociologists, epidemiologists, and computer scientists have all published in Significance over the past year. 

What topics are you looking for?

If it tells an interesting story through statistics, we’re interested. Articles can be on any subject. For example, in recent issues, we’ve published articles about the environment, Wordle, domestic violence, fighting disease, the World Cup, social media usage, election polls, and even the Eurovision Song Contest!

We also love articles that look at a current news story through a statistical lens. You could even focus on a personal experience with statistics. One author, for example, described how he monitored his own cancer treatment using statistics; another told us how he fell in love with stats through collecting trading cards as a child.

And we’re always interested in profile pieces looking at the life and work of an important, but perhaps overlooked, figure in the history of statistics/data.

Don’t assume a topic or format is ruled out because you haven’t seen it in Significance before. Sound me out. I really am all ears, all the time!

Describe the process an article goes through after it is submitted for publication in Significance?

It will get a first read by me, although it may take several months for me to reply to authors due to the volume of submissions we receive and the fact we are a tiny team. The most suitable articles will then be reviewed by members of the editorial board.

If we decide we would like to publish an article, reviewers suggest improvements to authors, and there is typically some rewriting. Final drafts are then copy-edited and prepared for publication.

Do you have any tips to offer a writer who wishes to submit an article?

The most important thing to bear in mind is that Significance  is a magazine, not an academic journal. Tailor your voice accordingly.

Articles should be written in a journalistic, magazine style—accessible, appealing, and not too technical. Your introduction should grab us, every paragraph should make us want to keep reading, and your closing lines should make clear why this story matters to the world/society.

For inspiration, look at popular science magazines, TheConversation.com, and even highbrow mainstream magazines like Vanity Fair.

Finally, what is the best way to submit an article so it is accepted for publication?

Email proposals/abstracts or a full article to signficance@rss.org.uk. We don’t need any particular font, spacing, or fancy formatting. A Word document with figures embedded is fine. Early-career statisticians and data scientists can enter our writing competition, too, which includes publication as a first prize.

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