Simon Shaw CMRS, a Director at Trinity McQueen, has been judging the first round of the MRS Awards since 2017. Here’s his advice for all those considering entering this year.

May is here and applications for the MRS Awards are open.

As we sit at home pondering what a return to normality will look like, there’s never been a better time to reflect on our work and think about a case study for the awards. There are so many reasons to put pen to paper. 

The pace of our industry doesn’t always encourage reflection. Taking time to think about our process and craft, questioning how and why we approach our work the way we do, pushes you out of your comfort zone. That’s the simplest reason for writing a paper: it makes you a better researcher.

The MRS Awards are also an opportunity to contribute to the evidence base of our profession. As an industry, the landmarks by which we get our bearings are changing. Bringing your best work to a public forum serves a greater good: we all benefit from sharing in evidence-based expertise.   

Here’s some practical tips on pulling together an entry.

Choosing an idea

  • Have a think about your recent projects. What was new, different or had clear impact?
  • Check the criteria for each category. How does your case study meet it? Are there any gaps?
  • Be hard on yourself. Results make or break it. What changed? What evidence do you have?
  • If you’re stuck - take a look at papers from previous winners for inspiration. What do they do well? How do they structure their arguments? How long are their sentences? What themes can you discern? This is your shortcut to success.


  • Give yourself time. The deadline isn’t until July 6th so you’ve got a whole 2 months. You may need client quotes, sales data, pack shots etc. Get the ball rolling.
  • Show don’t tell. Winning entries provide evidence of results, excellence in methodology and execution and relevant and successful innovation. Don’t just tell the judges that the project had a huge impact; show
  • We all approach writing differently. My advice? Good writing is good editing. Get a first draft down, then edit, edit, edit. Show someone you trust and ask them to cover it in red pen - and then edit some more.
  • Is your entry too long? You won’t be the only one so don’t worry. Simplify without losing the essence of your story. Can you reason by analogy for brevity? Can a diagram or model help? It’s impossible to include every detail. Deciding what to leave out will be as important as what you put in.
  • Aim to finish a week ahead of deadline then leave it alone. Pick it up with fresh eyes a few days later to do a final check.


  • Don’t be afraid to convey what was at stake, and how your research addressed it. Tell us about how the different players collaborated and how that contributed to the outcomes.
  • Do a final check for jargon: don’t assume every reader will be familiar with every arcane acronym.
  • Break up your text: judicious use of subheadings to signpost the argument you are making and bold text and italics to emphasise key points really help the judges.

Best of luck. On behalf of all the judges, we look forward to reading your entries in July.

Enter the MRS Awards here. Early-bird deadline 29 May, final deadline 6 July.

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