The 2022 Writing Contest will open in November 2022. Stay tuned for more information.
All eligible undergraduates are invited to submit a paper to the 2022 Student Learning Commons writing contest (one entry per eligible student).
Winning entries will be awarded a cash prize. All winners and “honourable mention” papers will be published in this open access journal as examples of strong writing across the disciplines.
All submissions will be pre-screened for eligibilty by Graduate Writing Facilitators who work for the SLC. Papers will then be assessed by a panel of judges comprised of SFU faculty, retired SFU faculty, and writing specialist staff members. After the judges have made their selections, the SLC will run the winners and honourable mentions by the instructors for whom the papers were originally written before announcing the winners.
The SLC warmly encourages submissions from students for whom English is an additional language. Elements that are unique to writing in an additional language will be considered when selecting contest winners.
In each category, students are invited to enter a paper that has been or will be submitted to any SFU course between January 1 and December 31, 2022.
Papers can be revised before submission in order to meet the contest guidelines and to address outstanding comments from the professor or TA. Students may choose to attend an SLC writing consultation to support their revisions.
First Year Category
SFU undergraduate students who have completed 0-29 credit units as of September 1st 2022 may enter in this category.*
Middle Years Category
SFU undergraduate students who have completed 30-89 credit units as of September 1st 2022 may enter in this category.*
Fourth Year+ Category
SFU undergraduate students who have completed 90+ credit units as of September 1st 2022 may enter in this category.*
Plurilingual Prize Category
SFU undergraduate students who have completed any number of credit units as of September 1st 2022 may enter in this category.*
Learn more about the Plurilingual Prize here.
Winning entries in each category will be awarded a prize:
- First prize: $200
- Second prize: $150
- We will also award Honourable Mentions in each category
* Note: To be eligible, you must be working on your first undergraduate degree. Transfer credits are included in your total number of credits completed.
The contest opens on November 28th. Submissions will be paused December 24-january 2, and will re-open January 3-6. The contest closes January 6 (at midnight), or until the maximum number of papers has been received. We will accept the first 25 papers in each category.
Papers received after the first 25 will be placed on a wait list. If the first 25 papers received are not eligible or strong enough to award a full complement of prizes, we will consider additional papers in the order in which they are received. We may close the wait list if we receive a high volume of submissions.
Criteria for Submission
In each category, papers must be between 1,250 and 2,500 words long and be written in language and style understandable by an educated, interdisciplinary audience.
Word count does not include the abstract or references list. Papers that are more than 20 words over the word count, or more than 20 words under the word count, will not be accepted. Please revise your paper to ensure that it falls within the accepted word count.
Criteria for Adjudication
Higher order concerns
- The paper’s central thesis, focus, hypothesis, or observation is perceptive, incisive, and richly developed.
- Research is employed in developing the key argument and is compared and contrasted (as appropriate).
- A deep, nuanced understanding of the subject matter is evident throughout the paper.
- The writing style engages the reader.
- The paper reflects the principles of inclusive and antiracist writing.
- For papers that are written by or about Indigenous Peoples, or about Indigenous topics, the writing reflects the principles outlined in Dr. Gregory Younging's book Elements of Indigenous Style.
- The paper is well organized.
Lower order concerns
- Skillful transitions between paragraphs and arguments
- Vocabulary is well-chosen and there is variety in sentence structures.
- Few, if any, errors in citation.
- Papers show evidence of thoughtful revision/editing.
- Judges must give equitable consideration to all writers. The contest welcomes papers written "with an accent" and papers that challenge the traditional hegemonic norms of academic writing.
- With this criteria, the SLC reaffirms the CCCC's statement on Students' Right to their own Language.
The excellence of all papers should be judged consistently, using the criteria above; however, the Writing Contest committee acknowledges that excellence in writing is not culturally or disciplinarily neutral. Everyone involved with the writing contest will work toward greater awareness of our unconscious biases about what makes for “good” writing as we engage with student submissions.
Revisions to papers are allowed
While papers must have originally been written for a class, contest entrants are allowed to revise papers to fit the contest's criteria, particularly the word count and the expectation that the paper will be understandable by an educated, interdisciplinary audience. Students entering into the Plurilingual Prize category may be especially interested in revising a paper in order to engage with codeswitching and translingual writing strategies. Yes, this means you can bring in multiple languages in your paper!
To support you in meeting the contest criteria, we strongly encourage you to attend an SLC writing consultation about your paper before submitting it for the contest. Book a writing consultation.
After the judges have made their selections, the SLC will run the winners and honourable mentions by the instructors for whom the papers were originally written. If an instructor expresses a concern about a paper, that paper will be disqualified from the contest.
Winners will be contacted and results will be posted by mid-February 2023.
A celebration of contest winners will be held in March 2023, details TBA.
First Year Category Judges
Dr. Gordon Rose - Psychology
Dr. Diana Solomon - English
Dr. Sun Ha Hong - Communications
Middle Years Category Judges
Dr. Sean Zwagerman - English
Dr. Sophie Burrill - Math
Dr. Sarah Walshaw - History
Fourth Year+ Category Judges
Dr. Dai Heide - Philosophy
Dr. Sophie McCall - English
Dr. Ashley Farris-Trimble - Linguistics
Plurilingual Prize Category Judges
Dr. Joel Heng Hartse - Education
Dr. Alys D. Avalos-Rivera - English
Dr. Claudia Wong - Linguistics
More information about submitting to the writing contest can be found on the Submission Instructions page.