The ABSW Awards recognise excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics journalism and writing.

We are grateful to our category sponsors who ensure that we are able to offer these unique awards every year. 

ABSW Lifetime Achievement Award 2021

The ABSW Board is seeking nominations for its 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award; this award recognises contributions in leadership and service to science journalism or science writing, including but not limited to:

  • Championing independence and excellence in the reporting of science, medicine, engineering or technology
  • Communicating science, medicine, engineering or technology and holding them to account
  • Journalistic achievement and impact
  • Professional development of colleagues, including mentoring
  • Exemplary professional behaviour

The 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award went to former ABSW Chair, Wendy Barnaby:

Citation, read by ABSW President Pallab Ghosh:

"I’m very pleased to present the lifetime achievement award, which goes to a member of the UK journalism science community who has consistently set an exemplary standard in his or her work throughout their career. 

This year the award goes to a journalist who has been a great example for women looking to make a career in science journalism. Most recently she has been teaching on Imperial College’s Science Communication Masters course. But she’s done excellent work for many outlets and institutions including Nature, New Scientist, the Times Higher, the Royal Society, European Commission and Grantham Institute for Climate Change. She has contributed to decades of science programming on BBC and ABC radio. She has made many audio and video podcasts for the British Journal of Surgery, the Royal Society and the British Psychological Society. From 2001 to 2014 she was the Editor of People & Science, the magazine of the British Science Association.  

Perhaps most importantly she’s never shied away from controversial reporting. You can see that in her book, The Plague Makers, an introduction to biological warfare, and her reporting on The Water Wars in Nature, stressing that conflicts really were originating from access to water. 

She has media-trained hundreds of scientists in organisations including the Biotechnological and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the National Trust and the British Psychological Society.  She has served as an adviser to the BBSRC as a member of its Bioscience in Society panel, and on the BBSRC’s Institute Assessment panel.

She’s also done great service to the ABSW itself, long serving on our committee, becoming our second female chair from 1993-1995, and judging our awards. She helped set up the Wellcome Trust bursaries, which funded science journalism training and placements."

Former winners of the ABSW Lifetime Achievement Award

2020Robin McKie
2019Philip Campbell
2018Steve Connor
2017Andy Coghlan
2016Deborah Cohen
2013Dick Ahlstrom
2012David Dickson
2011Fred Pearce
2010Geoff Watts
2009John Gribbin
2005David Attenborough
2004Tim Radford

2021 Awards


  • Monday 04 January 2021 09:00 GMT: submissions open
  • Monday 01 February 2021 23:59 GMT: submissions close
  • Wednesday 31 March 2021 09:00 BST: shortlisted entries announced
  • Thursday 08 July 2021 19:00 BST: Awards Ceremony


In 2021 we  will offer awards in 14 categories:

Editor of the Year (£1,000)

For editing achievements in STEM subjects that go beyond the ordinary; this may include but is not restricted to:

  • launching or relaunching new sections, publications, websites or other media
  • demonstrating extraordinary leadership or excellence in breaking significant stories
  • supporting and developing the editorial team  

Individual submissions only

British Science Journalist of the Year (£1,000)

For excellence and creativity in journalism; this may include but is not limited to:

  •  entertaining and informing audiences
  • inspiring new generations of journalists and writers
  • innovation in their main area of expertise

Individual submissions only

Steve Connor Award for Investigative Journalism (£500)

For an in-depth investigation into a topic of interest, leading to a conclusion. Submissions should detail any lengthy or complicated evidence gathering, and any difficulties faced.

Individual submissions only

The National Union of Journalists Stephen White Award for reporting of science in a non-science context (£500)

For making complicated ideas accessible to the non-specialist general public and in outlets that do not normally cover science stories.

STEM publications and programmes, publications that routinely and frequently publish STEM articles, or STEM sections of publications (New Scientist, BBC Radio Inside Science) are not eligible.

Individual or team submissions are eligible

The Dr Katharine Giles Award for best popular article written by a scientist or engineer (£600)

This award is organised in association with stempra- the membership network for science PR and communications professionals

For a specific article aimed at a lay audience. 

Individual submissions only; the winner will be offered media skills training through the Dr Katharine Giles Fund.

Feature of the Year: general audience (£500)

For a feature published in print or online in any title that is primarily consumed by, and aimed at, a general, lay audience, whether broadsheet or tabloid in style.

Examples include The Guardian, The Economist, New Scientist, Financial Times, Unearthed, BBC News

The feature may be part of a series or a standalone piece.

Feature of the Year: specialist audience (£500)

For a feature published in print or online in any title that targets specific, specialist audiences such as scientists, health professionals, chemists or engineers, whether trade press or other specialist publication.

Examples include Nature, Carbon Brief, Chemistry World, Physics World, Computer Weekly

The feature may be part of a series or a standalone piece

News Item of the Year (£500)

For a single news item published or broadcast in any medium. Examples include breaking news stories and first in-depth reports.

The Royal Society Audio of the Year (£1,000)
For a programme or podcast where STEM is the primary issue covered. 

The award can be for a single programme or series, although only one item in the series can be entered.

Individual or team submissions are eligible

Newcomer of the Year (£500)

For science writers who published their first piece within the past three years (01 January 2018 – 31 December 2020).

Entrants should be currently working in journalism, whether freelance or staff, full-time or part-time.

Individual submissions only

Video of the year (£500)

For a programme where STEM is the primary issue covered. 

The award can be for a single programme or series, although only one item in the series can be entered.

Individual or team submissions are eligible

News Analysis or Explanatory Reporting of the Year (£500)

For stories that are neither hard news nor fully-fledged features that provide an insightful explanation of science behind the headlines and valuable new context and background to the news.

Individual submissions only

Research Policy or Funding Story of the Year (£500)

For stories that tackle policy and funding agendas related to science and technology research.

Individual submissions only

Opinion/Editorial of the Year (£500)

For written work that expresses an opinion or aims to change opinion. This includes opinion columns, editorial and blogs.

Individual submissions only

ABSW 2021 Awards: policy and guidelines
The Association of British Science Writers is registered in England and Wales under company number 07376343 at 76 Glebe Lane, Barming, Maidstone, Kent, ME16 9BD.
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