Frequently Asked Questions

About the Competition

What is the Young Investigators Writing Competition?
The Young Investigators Writing Competition is a contest for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high schools located on Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk county). Students can choose to enter in the biology, environmental science, psychology, or space research prompt categories. For more details, see the home page.

How are you evaluating entries?
Per the Terms and Conditions, we evaluate entries on the following six criteria:

  1. Original writing: The submission is inventive and completely original. Any references to existing works are cited in the SBYIR citation style as outlined on
  2. Answering the prompt: The writer responds to the prompt, providing insightful discussion on the issue.
  3. Critical thinking: The writing conveys an understanding of the topic beyond basic knowledge of the prompt. Issues are objectively presented and evaluated to form sound judgments and solutions.
  4. Evidence-based reasoning: Examples and supporting evidence from reliable sources should be provided for all claims made. Ideas should be developed by the applicant and backed by sources.
  5. Language geared towards the public: Writing is clear, concise, and understandable at the high school educated level.
  6. Engaging work: The submission is compelling and captures readers’ attention. Readers should be interested as they continue through the piece.

Why are we doing this competition?
The Young Investigators Writing Competition aims to inspire students to apply their knowledge of the world around us in ways that will subsequently benefit society. As both societies and science have changed over time, science must respond to societal needs and global challenges. It is important the public is well-informed about the current developments in science, and our mission is to present scientific controversies to the public in a straight-forward and accessible manner. One challenge of the scientific community involves communicating science in a way that is understandable to the general public. This competition prompts students to communicate complex science controversies in an insightful, engaging, but also non-technical way. In this way, we are doing our part to bridge the knowledge gap between academia and the general public. 

Entry Information

How do I enter?
Students can enter by filling out a submission form accessed on the Apply Page. For additional guidelines and instructions on the contest, check out the Rules page.

Who can enter?
Students who are rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors enrolled in high schools located on Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk county) may enter!

When is the deadline?
The deadline for the 2022 YIWC is July 15, 2022.

Can I work on an entry in a group?
Unfortunately, the Young Investigators Writing Competition is currently only allowing for individual entries, especially as social distancing is encouraged during this time.

Can I enter multiple essays?
Students are limited to choosing one prompt category and only one submission will be permitted per student. All subsequent entries will not be considered.

Can I submit my work to multiple contests?
Yes, you may submit your work to the Young Investigators Writing Competition even if it has been or will be submitted to other contests, as long as it complies with their rules as well.

I will be a freshman in high school in Fall 2022. Can I still enter?
Unfortunately, the Young Investigators Writing Competition is currently only accepting applications from rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high school. This answer also applies to current high school seniors as well. 

Is the competition free?
Yes! There is no application fee to enter.


I don’t have any access to a lot of the research papers on the internet. Where should I look for free information?
The following links may be helpful to identify free resources. Though you should use trusted resources, you may use government or newspaper resources in lieu of research papers.

What does it mean to write to a “high school educated public”?
Your writing should be understood by other high school students. It should be clear and concise and avoid unnecessary technical words.

I’m working on a research project while in a lab, can I mention some of the work I’ve been doing?
If the work is relevant to the prompt and is presented in an objective, impersonal way, it is acceptable to mention in your writing. Independent research conducted in a lab can be included in your piece, but writing about your research should not necessarily be the focus of your piece. Furthermore, you should consult with your Principal Investigator before writing about research conducted in their lab.  

Can I bring up narratives / personal examples?
Submissions should demonstrate a level of evidence-based reasoning, and it is recommended that writers avoid the first person. Therefore, we advise against using narratives or personal examples when answering the prompts.

Do I need to have a diagram?
Diagrams are not required but are welcome if they would be helpful to illustrate a point. Submissions without diagrams will not be penalized.


Original Writing

  • Pieces should include a bibliography of sources used, as well as use in-text citations as appropriate.
  • Direct quotes should not be used. 
  • Failure to adhere to these guidelines will result in disqualification.


  • The language used facilitates comprehension of technical words and concepts at a high school educated level.
  • The tone of the piece should reflect research-style writing rather than informal narrative writing.
  • The piece should be free of any grammar or spelling errors.


  • The writer should establish a clear argument that is facilitated by a logical format.
  • The voice should be consistent and compelling throughout the piece. 

Evidence-Based Reasoning

  • Ideas should be developed by the applicant and backed by reliable sources.
  • Evidence utilized should be pertinent to the author’s viewpoint, strengthening the overall argument of the piece. 

Critical Thinking

  • The writer demonstrates thoughtful analysis of the sources used
  • Ideas are well-balanced and explored via evaluation of counterarguments in a manner that further supports the author’s position..

Answering the Prompt

  • The writer responds to all aspects of the prompt and stays on topic throughout the piece.

So What?

  • The writer establishes the larger implications of their argument.
  • The contents of the piece reflect an analysis of the relationship between science and society. 

If you have a question that has not been answered above, feel free to contact us at!