At a recent online event titled ‘A helpful guide to the Nine Dots Prize’, Professor Joanna Page (Director of CRASSH) and I tried to give an overview to the Prize and answer as many of the submitted questions as we could manage in the time. We thought it might be helpful to try and sum up some of the questions here too.
Most importantly, the Nine Dots Prize is currently open for submissions, asking for entries that seek to answer the question: “Why has the rule of law become so fragile?” The deadline for applications is midday GMT on Monday 23 January 2023. Submission is through our website: www.ninedotsprize.org.
Questions about the application process
We don’t clarify what we mean by the question the Board have set. We want to see how each applicant responds to what they think the question means and we think not giving any more detail is the best way to let applicants answer it as they think best.
Applications must be on time and not be over the word limits (3,000 words for the Summary Response, 1,000 words each for the Book Outline and the Justification Statement). Entries must be written in English and they must engage with the question. But apart from that, applicants are welcome to use any format they like, and answer the question in any way that they think best. Although writing style is important, we are really looking for brilliant ideas, so if English is not an applicant’s first language for example, that won’t negatively affect their application. We welcome joint applications, but each individual is only able to submit one application.
In terms of word counts, references as endnotes or a bibliography do not count towards the word limits. Neither do figures or images if you plan to use those. You are welcome to use US or British English spellings and any font you choose.
Questions about the judging process
Our Board judges the Prize anonymously. This means they only see the Summary Response and the Book Outline sections of each application. The Justification Statement is seen by the Nine Dots team so they can see how each applicant plans to complete the book if they are the winner. As we have had over 700 entries for each of our cycles, the Board see the entries in small groups and choose entries to put forward to the full Board. As we are a small team, we are unable to give feedback on applications. We ask that although the copyright for each entry remains with applicants, they hold off seeking to publish their entries elsewhere until the judging has been completed. But following the winner announcement, we know that previous applicants have published their responses in a variety of locations.
Questions about if you win the Prize
Completing a book, even a short one – we ask for between 25,000 and 40,000 words – is a time-consuming process. The deadline we give the winner is to complete their book in seven months. Some people asked about whether it would be possible to continue to work full time and write the book. All of our previous winners worked on their books mostly full time and we think it would be difficult to complete the book without giving it a good chunk of your time. However how you handle completing the manuscript is up to the winner, and we will support whatever choices they make.
The winner will receive their winning Prize money in three stages: at the winner announcement, on submission of the manuscript in January 2024; and on book publication in May 2024. The Prize money is taxable. Another part of the Prize award is to spend a term at CRASSH at the University of Cambridge. This is not essential, we understand that it would not be possible for all winners to take up this opportunity. The CRASSH team would seek to involve the winner in the work and life of the Centre from a distance if that was what was best for them. If the winner did want to be based in CRASSH, the team would help with all the practicalities including housing.
Around the winner announcement and when the book is published, we will work with the winner to organise some publicity events. But these would only be what the winner is comfortable with. These might be interviews with the press, writing pieces for broadcast, events to discuss the book or social media posts. The winner does receive some royalties from book sales. This will be fully explained in the contract that the winner signs with Cambridge University Press before publication. The online version of the book is free to download and read.