AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award FAQs

Q. There is no category for wire-service reporters. Which category should wire-service reporters submit under?

A. To be eligible, wire-service stories must be picked up by a media outlet representing one of the recognized award categories. If an Associated Press story is picked up by The Seattle Times, for example, the AP reporter would submit under the “Large Newspaper” category. A bylined AP story on an online news site would be eligible in the “Online” category.

Q. If I’m a reporter for a weekly newspaper, which category do I submit under?

A. Depending on the circulation of your newspaper, you would submit under “Large Newspaper” (circulation of 100,000 or more) or “Small Newspaper” (circulation of less than 100,000).

Q. If I’m in Canada, but writing for a U.S.-based publication, does my work qualify?

A. Yes, foreign-based reporters working for U.S. media outlets are eligible for the awards. A “U.S. media outlet” is an outlet with its headquarters in the United States.

Q. What about international reporters working for non-U.S. news outlets?

A. The award for reporting on Children’s Science News, started in 2005, is open to reporters worldwide, including those working for non-U.S. media outlets based abroad. However, the rest of the awards are for reporters working for U.S.-based media outlets.

Q. I work for a magazine that has correspondents and offices all over the world, but I’ve been told my work is not eligible in the magazine category. Why?

A. Stories must be published within the U.S. and by a U.S. media outlet. For example, a reporter working in the U.S. for a publication based in the United Kingdom is not eligible

Q. As editor of a magazine, my name is not always given as a byline on articles. Is this a problem for entry?

A. Yes. Stories without bylines do not qualify for the award.

Q. Do you accept print pieces with joint bylines?

A. Yes, joint bylines are fine. Two authors on one story can win together and split the prize.

Q. I’m submitting a radio documentary that I produced with the help of another person who did about 1/3 of the work. How Should I proceed?

A. You can submit the entry as a team. If you win, you will split the $3,000 award. Or, if you want it to be clear that you are the primary producer, you can submit as “John Doe, with Jane Smith.” If you win, you will be responsible for dividing the award. In any case, it is important to discuss your entry with your colleagues before submitting it so there is no misunderstanding about credit. These awards recognize individuals, including multiple authors when appropriate. Applicants are asked to fully disclose any other significant contributions to the work being submitted.

Q. How many people can be included on an award entry?

A. We prefer no more than four names. We recognize that there may be many people involved in the production of a TV documentary, or a comprehensive online site. We ask that you enter only the names of those primarily responsible for the quality, clarity and originality of the content presented.

Q. Are there any exceptions to the exclusion of articles exclusively concerning health or medical treatment?

A. To be considered, medical or health writing must have a strong science component to it. It must be more than a look at how someone is coping with multiple sclerosis, for example, and whether the latest drug shows promise. The piece must deal in a substantial way with the science behind the drug discovery and the biological mechanisms being explored by researchers.

Q. How many parts constitute a “series” and why?

A. The Managing Committee has decided that no more than three parts of a series should be submitted for judging, enough for the judges to assess the body of work.

Q. I have three stories on a single topic that could constitute a series, but are not formally designated as such? How do I submit?

A. You may enter them as one group of three unrelated items, since they’re not officially a series. The judges will be able to assess them as a whole.

Q. I’m allowed to submit three totally unrelated articles as a single entry. Why should I take that approach rather that submitting each one as a separate entry?

A. By submitting three unrelated items in a single entry, a reporter is able to demonstrate a breadth of work and a facility with disparate science subjects. Such entries have won the contest, including both newspaper awards in the 2005 competition. But judges also have cautioned that a writer who enters three unrelated pieces must meet their expectations with each of the pieces. If one part of the entry is weaker than the others, it can hurt the entrant’s overall chances. If you have any doubts, it is probably best to enter your strongest pieces as individual entries.

Q. If I’m submitting a foreign-language entry in the children’s category, must it be translated into English?

A. We ask that international reporters make every effort possible to have their work translated. If that is impossible, however, AAAS will arrange for a translation.

Q. Because of the timing of publications aimed at children, the stories often are not truly “news.” They often are features, or about the science related to something that was in the news. Do such stories qualify?

A. Science features based on recent news are acceptable entries, as are features based on less timely events and “cool” areas of science that are described in an interesting way that engages young minds.

Q. How do you define “children” in the case of the children’s award category?

A. Up to age 14.

Q. Are stories written by public information officers or freelancers for university-funded research magazines or Web sites eligibile for the awards?

A. No. The Managing Committee and the AAAS Board of Directors have determined that the contest is for professional journalists whose work is published or broadcast by news outlets accessible to the general public. The contest administrator, with the advice of the Managing Committee, determines the eligibility of entries.

Q. Are commentaries or articles in advocacy publications eligible for the award?

A. No.

Q. Are podcasts eligible for the award?

A. Some podcasts are eligible for consideration within the Online category. They must be science-news-only podcasts aimed at a general audience and prepared by reporters. Institutional podcasts from university news or research offices, or podcasts featuring news as well as other types of segments are not eligible.

Q. Are blogs eligible?

A. Yes, in the “Online” catergory. The judges will determine whether a blog entry meets the standards of professional journalism and is accessible to a general audience.

Q. Are books eligible?

No, books, book chapters and e-books are not eligible.

Q. Are there “Honorable Mentions” in the contest?

A. On rare occasions, the judges may decide to award a “Certificate of Merit” for a noteworthy entry.