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Statistical Computing
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Frequently Asked Questions. Student Paper Competition. ASA Statistics Computing and Graphics

Student paper competition

Frequently Asked Questions

Exactly who is eligible for the competition?

Anyone who is a student (graduate or undergraduate) at a university. We do ask for a faculty member (usually the student's mentor or advisor) to certify student status in the fall term before the competition. In the past, all of the entrants have been graduate students, but undergraduates could make substantial contributions in a new field like statistical computing. We do ask for a CV as well so that the committee judging the entries can be calibrated about an entrant's educational level.

One correspondent asked if high school students could enter. We don't prohibit this, but realistically high school students might be at a disadvantage against graduate students close to finishing their PhD.

How am I supposed to fit my manuscript into just 6 pages?

We impose a six-page limit to (a) force students to think carefully about their main ideas and express them concisely, and (b) out of consideration for our judges, who are volunteering their time to help out with this competition.

If you are struggling to meet this limit, we offer two suggestions. First, consider a two-column format, as in this template. This is often a good way to save space while preserving readability. Second, you may include supplemental results, such as proofs or figures depicting additional simulations or examples, in an Appendix that starts on page 7. The first six pages, however, should be a self-contained paper that the judges can read and understand without having to consult the Appendix.

It is *not* recommended, however, to squeeze a much longer paper into six pages by shrinking the font, margins, and space between lines. This greatly limits the readability of your paper and tends to irritate the judges.

Why is the deadline so close to the beginning of the year and the end of the winter holidays?

We want to give entrants who are not selected the opportunity to submit their paper to the Joint Statistical Meetings as a regular contributed paper. The deadline for this is usually at the very beginning of February. So in order to get the papers to the committee, have them read the papers, discuss them, and make a decision, and inform those who are selected and those who are not, we need an early submission deadline.

What does the letter from the faculty member need to contain?

Two things:

  • A certification of your student status in the fall term before the competition.
  • If the paper is jointly authored, an indication as to how much is your work.

We recommend that you ask your advisor to send the letter early, if possible before the holidays because people are often late getting back and the time span between the end of the holidays and the deadline is very short. We will open a file for your entry when we receive the letter and wait for the rest of the materials to arrive.

Do you acknowledge submissions?

We do acknowledge by email only, so be sure to include an email address. If you want to call me I will acknowledge receipt of your entry by phone. I don't have staff to do a mail acknowledgement.

Patrick Breheny
Department of Biostatistics
University of Iowa

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