Posted: Dec 03, 2010 10:17 am
by Mazille
The time has come, my nerdy friends: Start up your text-editing programmes and break out the papers!

This month's topic is: Debunk a popular misconception.
Do we really only use ten percent of our brain? Are humans a "Blank Slate" at birth or not? Is homoeopathy a science? I'm sure that there are scores of scientific misconceptions of varying popularity you people can think of: Go on and explain to us why they're wrong.

The competition starts as of now. Participants can post their entries in this "Submissions" thread, while everyone else is cordially invited to comment on the relative merit of the entries in the "Discussion" thread here.

Submissions can be entered until Friday, the 24th of December, which is when the voting will start. Voting will end on Friday, the 31st of December, so that all is done and dusted this year.

Articles have to meet all the criteria laid down in the rules here:

The Monthly RatSkep Science Writing Award

We have a lot of professional scientists and very well-versed laymen on the forum and so we decided to make use of those formidable intellectual resources. We challenge you to write an article about a specific topic - which will be revealed later on - and enter it into a competition for "The Monthly RatSkep Science Writing Award"!

Now, to give you an idea of how this competition is going to work:
Every month we will give you the opportunity to take part in this competition. The goal is to write the best article covering a scientific topic of your choice - although with certain restraints. For each round of the competition we will set a general topic (e.g. "Our Solar System", or "The Subatomic World"), from which you can choose any field of interest to write about. After we have announced the general topic of a new round, competitors will have three weeks time to write their articles and enter them in the competition (see below for formal criteria) and after those three weeks users will have another week to vote for the best scientific article.

How is entering the competition and voting going to work?
    1. We will have one thread where people can post their articles and enter them in the competition. This thread will be moved from public view after each round of the competition and a new one will be opened for the next round. Only competitors may post there, and the articles will have to be approved by the staff, just like in the Formal Discussion forum.
    2. We will have another thread, where users can argue about the merits of each article that entered the competition and where they will be able to vote for their favourite article in the last week of the round via a poll. Every member will have the ability to cast three votes.
    3. There will be a third thread, where we collect all the articles that ever entered the competition. This way you will have access to a whole thread full of scientific goodness.
    4. After the general topic of a round has been announced, participants will be given three weeks to write and submit their works. Within this time the commentary-thread will be open for relevant discussions, but voting will still be disabled. After these three weeks users will be given one week to submit their votes. At the end of this period the winners will be announced and the submitted articles will enter the "Hall of Fame"-thread. Shortly after that a new round of the competition with an entirely different general topic will start.
    5. Each participant may only enter one article per round into the competition.

What are the formal criteria for the articles?

    1. Every article you enter into the competition has to be your own original work. Here on RatSkep we do not look kindly on plagiarism. It is, however, allowed to enter the competition with an article you have already posted earlier here on RatSkep, provided it meets the rest of the following criteria.
    2. Articles have to be at least 500 words long and mustn't exceed a limit of 3000 words. The maximum number of pictures and graphics is one picture per 500 words of text.
    3. Articles have to include an index of their sources, if you used any, and direct quotes have to be credited to the original author. We don't want to impose a specific quotation system on the competitors, but keep it clear, easily readable and stick to one system per article.
    4. Articles must cover either the general topic, or an appropriate sub-topic to ensure comparability of your efforts.
    5. Of course, the articles will have to be in the limits of the FUA, as usual.

Any article that does not meet all of the above criteria will be disqualified and cannot be entered in the competition.

Why should I enter the competition?

First of all, this is the perfect opportunity to boast with your superior knowledge. Furthermore the winners will get some shiny stuff:

    1. The authors of the Top 3 articles will get a nice banner for their signatures, in gold, silver and bronze respectively. The authors of those three articles can keep these banners as long as they want since there are going to be new banners for each new round of the competition.
    2. The best entries will also be featured in a prominent spot on our shiny new front-page as soon as LIFE manages to get it up and running.
    3. And last, but not least, we might have a few surprises in store for you...

Good luck and have fun! May the best articles win. :cheers: We are looking forward to your contributions.