Join the

Digital Innovation Challenge

Table of Contents

  1. Eligibility
  2. Competition Process
  3. Prizes
  4. Essay Topics and Content
  5. Formatting Instructions
  6. Assessment Criteria
  7. Plagiarism

You can also download eligibility and rules as a PDF document and Digital Innovation Challenge in a nutshell PowerPoint presentation.


Students from any discipline are eligible to take part in the competition.

Competition Process

The competition takes place in two stages:

  1. Each Partner University invites students to write an essay on digital innovation. Please note that the deadline for students to submit their essays depend on local arrangements. The university sets up a local selection committee that chooses the best undergraduate and/or master's level essay to be submitted to the global competition by Monday, 15 December 2014.

  2. The Competition Committee at the London School of Economics and Political Science chooses the best undergraduate and master's level essay. The members of the Committee comprise of academics from the Information Systems and Innovation Group at LSE and participating universities, and practitioners. Each submitted essay is assessed by three Committee members. The winners are announced on 1 March 2015.


The two global winners for the Best Undergraduate and Master's Level Essay on Digital Innovation are invited to visit London for one week in April or May 2015 with their travel and accommodation expenses paid for. If a global winner is from an UK university, the student will receive an Apple iPad as a prize.

The winners will have the opportunity to attend lectures and to present their essay to an audience of students and staff at LSE.

Essay Topics and Content

Students will need to identify an area related to digital innovation that interests them and on which there is a substantial body of work including academic studies. They are expected to find a good representative selection of such materials, read and review them, and extract and organize the underlying ideas and concepts. A good essay usually focuses on a specific topic, grounds its arguments on evidence and avoids making too generic claims.

Students need to check the quality and provenance of used materials and their relevance – not all Internet sources, for example, are credible. Peer-reviewed academic journals are generally trusted as sources for research ideas. Also, practitioner literature, for instance, from major trade publications and web sites can provide a useful contrast to more academic materials.

The following are examples of broad areas from which essay topics might emerge:

Formatting Instructions

The essay must be written in English and should not exceed 3,000 words. The essay must have 80–120 words abstract and we strongly recommend the following formatting:

The 3,000 words limit does not include tables, figures, or references. Tables and figures should not be embedded in the text, but must be included separately immediately following the text. References should appear last. The entire document must not exceed 12 pages. The word and page limit will be strictly enforced and the Committee reserves the right to reject a candidate whose essay exceeds the word or page limit.

The essay must be word-processed and must in the main text cite references in the (author, date) style – often known as the Harvard System of Referencing. To satisfy the requirements for full and proper referencing and to create a consistent bibliography students are encouraged to use a reference manager software such as Zotero.

Assessment Criteria

Essay assessors are looking particularly for evidence of critical thinking in which ideas are placed in a wider context, questioned and assessed, and evidence is used creatively to support propositions. Also, presentation is important for it is a necessary condition for the assessors to understand and follow your line of reasoning. They will focus in particular on:

Innovative topics and ideas are very welcome, but their novelty and significance will need to be presented and justified in relation to existing knowledge and literature. It should be remembered that this is not a competition for bright ideas or smart technology design alone. While innovative thinking is highly valued, it needs to be critically discussed in a broader socio-economic context where they may make a difference.


Students need to be aware that if they try to pass off the work of others as their own they will be guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism refers to the unacknowledged or excessive use of any work by others, whether published or not. Any quotation or excerpt taken from the published or unpublished works of other persons must be clearly identified as such by being placed inside quotation marks and be given with a full reference to the source in a proper form. A series of short quotations from several different sources, if not clearly identified as such, constitutes plagiarism just as much as does a single unacknowledged long quotation from a single source. Extensive paraphrasing of other’s work is equally plagiarism if not clearly acknowledged.

Essays submitted to the competition are analysed by plagiarism detection software.