Political Science Now

The Nine Dots Prize Now Accepting Applications

The Nine Dots Prize seeks to reward original thinking in response to contemporary societal issues. Each Prize cycle lasts two years, with a new question being announced every other October.


The Nine Dots Prize is now accepting application entries for the inaugural year.
We spoke briefly with Jennifer Wright, the University Publishing Manager at Cambridge University Press, about the impact of the Nine Dots Prize and how political scientists, researchers, authors, writers, etc. can apply. She has worked in ecology as a researcher and junior lecturer.  Wright takes the lead in collaborative projects and partnerships between Cambridge University Press and the rest of Cambridge University. The Nine Dots Prize is an example of such a project, with both the Press and CRASSH (the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) supporting the Prize and winner’s book. CRASSH hosts the Nine Dots Prize Fellow and associated events throughout the writing period. Cambridge University Press works closely with the winning authors and CRASSH on the design, delivery, publication, and promotion of the Nine Dots Prize books. Jennifer tells us more about The Nine Dots Prize:

What’s the history behind the Nine Dots Prize? How long has this opportunity been available to the public?

The Prize was set up by the Kadas Prize Foundation, a philanthropic organization whose priority is to fund research into significant but neglected questions relevant to today’s world. Its main charitable activity is as a prize-awarding body, enabling Prize winners to further their work in the arts, humanities, sciences, and the social sciences to the benefit of the public.

This is the inaugural year of the Prize, and it has been open for entries since October 21st 2016.

This year’s question, “Are digital technologies making politics impossible?” is a really good one. How are submissions and entries measured?

The Prize is judged by a board of international and renowned thinkers from academia, media, and business. Entrants will submit a 3000 word response to the question, followed by an outline of how they proposed to expand this answer into a short book. These documents will be seen anonymously by the judges, who will award the Prize to the entry that in their view best responds to the set question. Responses can critique, agree or disagree with, or reject the premise of the question, but they must engage with it fully and insightfully. The Board will also be looking for originality of the ideas and arguments put forward, the ways in which the ideas are communicated and the conclusions or recommendations that the author(s) reach. Responses may draw on research and evidence from a wide variety of sources and disciplines not restricted solely to the social sciences.

Entrants will also be asked to submit a “justification” document confirming that they have the support (including from their employer if applicable) and time available to fulfil their obligations (i.e. complete the book on-time, engage with the media where appropriate, deliver the mid-way seminar at the University of Cambridge etc. should they win). This justification document will not be seen by the judges, only by the Prize organizing team to ensure validity of submissions. For further information on all submission guidelines and Prize T&Cs, see here.

How do prize winners generally use their rewards?

This is the first time the Prize will be awarded, so we don’t know! We anticipate, however, that many entrants will use at least some of the award to support themselves financially during the writing period.  The Prize recognizes that “big ideas” often need headspace to evolve and be communicated, so the anticipation is that the money could help remove barriers to taking time out to write and think! The Prize also includes the option to spend a term as a Fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts Social Sciences and Humanities (University of Cambridge), so some of the money could be used for living expenses in Cambridge.

What advice would you give those interested in applying?

Think outside the box! The Prize name (Nine Dots Prize) is derived from a puzzle that requires joining together 9 dots with a single line, and it can only be solved by drawing lines outside of the grid. The board of judges are keen to hear new ideas, well-reasoned new arguments, and/or new approaches to the question.

How and when should our members apply?

The deadline is 31st January, and your members can submit here on the Prize website