RES Young Economist Essay Competition Guidelines 2021

20 Apr 2021

Aim

The RES Young Economist of the Year competition 2021 aims at encouraging year 12 and 13 students (studying for A-Level, International Baccalaureate (IB) or Scottish Highers qualifications who either normally reside or are studying in the UK) to produce their own ideas in analysing contemporary economic problems facing the UK and the world. Participants can choose from a list of topics provided on the competition website which are selected by the RES. Students do not need to be studying economics to be able to enter this competition. The RES welcomes entries from any student who is interested in economic issues and would like to share original ideas or perspectives on these issues. The RES also welcomes a diverse range of contributions and individual insights on the competition topics.

Content

Students (“You”) must submit a written contribution which can contain tables and charts. Depending on the topic and how you approach it, your entry may focus primarily on arguments and reasoning (an “essay”), it may concentrate on data and your perspective on its implications (a “report”), or it may have elements of both. The ‘Data, Referencing and Bibliography’ section of this document contains further guidance on where to find relevant data, and you can also make your own tables or charts.

The maximum limit of the entry is 1000 words. This word limit excludes the bibliography, the title page, footnotes, acknowledgements of help received, and any in-text references (such as “(Smith, 2020)”). It also excludes images, tables, charts, and figure captions (where applicable).

Submission Method

  • Every participant is required to submit their entry in the submission portal provided in the competition website. It is the participant’s responsibility to submit their essay by the deadline. No late submissions are accepted.
  • Since the entries will be marked anonymously, the participant’s name must not appear anywhere, to ensure a fair evaluation of the submissions.
  • The Royal Economic Society accepts no responsibility for any technical failures which may result in any entry being lost, corrupted or not properly registered. No responsibility will be taken for damaged or lost entries.

Submission Deadline

 All entries must be submitted by the deadline of 23.59 (BST) on 10 July 2021.

Formatting

  1. Entries should be submitted in either Microsoft Word or PDF format. (If the entry contains charts or tables, the PDF format is recommended as it preserves the formatting and layout of charts and tables.)
  2. All pages in the entry should be numbered, including the cover page.
  3. The main text of the entry should be double-spaced with a font size of 12.

Plagiarism

Every participant must submit an originally researched and originally written entry. You can only receive help with proofreading the final draft, where assistance should be limited to grammar or clear communication of ideas. In these cases, a note must accompany your entry citing any such assistance received. This acknowledgement note will not count toward the entry’s word limit.

All short-listed entries will be checked for plagiarism using state-of-the-art software. Plagiarism is “the process or practice of using another person's ideas or work and pretending that it is your own”. For example, copying sentences word-for-word from another source will be detected by the plagiarism software and constitutes a plagiarism offence. You can find more examples of what counts as plagiarism, and tips on how to avoid plagiarism, at this website: https://www.niu.edu/academic-integrity/faculty/committing/examples/index.shtml.

Entries where substantial evidence of plagiarism is detected may be withdrawn from the competition, and the RES reserves the right to cancel any such submission. So, please ensure that your competition entry is written in your own words. In addition, you must cite content that you use from any source (such as a website, book, or news article) to support your arguments. The next section explains how to properly acknowledge sources and avoid plagiarism. 

Data, Referencing and Bibliography

When you use information/material from other sources, you must acknowledge them in your work. Although we do not require a detailed in-text referencing of your arguments for the 2022 competition, a list of sources that you have consulted and have substantively influenced your arguments must be included at the end of your entry. These references do not count toward the word limit of the entry.

You are encouraged to use data obtained from reliable data sources such as the Office of National Statistics, Federal Reserve Bank websites (e.g. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/), the World Bank, the OECD, and Our World in Data. You may also find data on your local authority website. You can take charts and tables directly from the source, but if so this must be acknowledged as a note to the chart/table in your entry. In general, it is preferable to use the data to make your own charts and tables. Any such data sources that you use should be listed in the references.

Guidance for writing your entry

  • Who is the target audience?

Your entry should be aimed at a general interest audience (anyone who is interested in the topic you are writing about), rather than specifically at people who have studied economics.

  • Advice on structuring and formatting your entry

Your entry should follow the general structure of introduction, main arguments, and conclusion. The following websites contains some non-subject-specific guidance about the possible structure and format of written work:

https://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/sgc/learning/NewBrandDocs-FileStore/Filetoupload,781679,en.pdf

https://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/sgc/learning/NewBrandDocs-FileStore/Filetoupload,781693,en.pdf

Your readers may not have studied economics, so it is important to explain the intuition behind the economic phenomena you are analysing. ‘Intuition’ refers to a non-technical ‘common-sense’ explanation for the observed phenomena. The first challenge for you is to think of a solid and clear economic intuition about the issue you are trying to analyse. Where appropriate, support your explanations with relevant data. (For example, you can cite some appropriate statistics, and/or include and discuss charts, images, and tables in the main body of your text.)

Make sure to structure your arguments logically. To make your arguments easy to follow, you can use the following order: motivation (why is this topic important?), assumptions (where relevant), claims (what do you think about the issue?), evidence/analysis to support your claims, and conclusion. Maintaining a clear storyline from start to end will help the judges follow your line of reasoning. Keeping the overall argument in mind can help you organise your entry.

  • Planning and writing your entry

Woodrow Wilson was once asked how long it took him to write a speech. He answered, ‘That depends. If I am to speak for 10 minutes, I need a week of preparation. If 15 minutes, 3 days. If half an hour, two days. If an hour, I am ready now.’

The message is clear. Since you have only 1000 words to convey your ideas to your audience, it really helps to spend as much time as possible honing and organizing your arguments. Start early and take advantage of all the available time.

Present your arguments clearly. Choosing your words carefully is important for clear communication. For example, if you use economic terminology or refer to economic concepts, make sure you are using them in the correct context. Since your readers may not have studied economics, economic terminology should be avoided where possible and any used should be defined.

Stay within the word limit by writing concisely, using the least number of words necessary to communicate your ideas. Before submitting your entry, make sure to check your work for typos, grammatical errors, and logical fallacies.

  • Additional tips

Remember, help from your peers, parents, teachers in preparing your entry must be purely nominal (limited to proofreading). Trust your instincts and take ownership of your thoughts.

Avoid using emotive and informal words such as ‘massive’, ‘chaos’, ‘crashed’, ‘tanked’, or ‘awesome’. As much as possible, avoid using less-reliable non-academic sources, such as Wikipedia or Investopedia, as references.

You can read the winning entries from recent years on the RES website at https://www.res.org.uk/education/young-economist-of-the-year.html, but bear in mind that the maximum length was reduced to 1,000 words last year. Also, the competition in previous years was of a more strict essay format than this year, with less encouragement for presenting original arguments.

  • Final advice

Economics is a very exciting discipline that supports the wellbeing of every walk of life. It is a field that involves critical thinking and deep research focusing on the wellbeing of society. Regardless of the competition outcome, the experience of producing an entry that addresses these social issues will be your purest takeaway from this journey.  

Evaluation Criteria

Your submission will be judged on the originality of your ideas and perspectives on economic issues, clarity of communication, strength and organization of your arguments, and soundness of the evidence you use (such as others’ views, or data and numbers). Make sure that your writing has a clear structure and consistent format; and that your arguments are convincing, by using supporting sources that are referenced and can be checked.

Data Protection Statement

Any personal data which may be submitted in an entry will be processed by RES in accordance with any applicable data protection legislation, and RES Privacy Notice available at https://www.res.org.uk/resource-library-page/privacy-notice.html.

Declaration

Entrants agree that their entry is their own work, written solely for the purpose of the Competition, and warrant that their entry does not breach any applicable laws or regulations or infringe any third intellectual property or privacy rights, and is not in any way libellous, defamatory, obscene, indecent, harassing or threatening.

By entering the Competition, entrants agree to hold RES and FT harmless for liability, damages or claims for injury or loss to any person or property, relating to, directly or indirectly, participation in this Competition, or claims based on publicity rights, third party intellectual property rights, defamation or invasion of privacy.

RES Statement

The Royal Economic Society reserves the right to refuse entry or to refuse to award a prize to anyone in breach of any of the rules of the essay competition published at https://www.res.org.uk/education/young-economist-of-the-year.html.

These terms and conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with English law. Disputes arising in connection with this Competition shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

The promoter is the Royal Economic Society, 2 Dean Trench St, Westminster, London, SW1P 3HE.