The fMRI Writing Prize, a unique new flash fiction fiction contest for Baltimore's youth and adult writers, is open for submissions (SUBMISSION WINDOW EXTENDED THROUGH JULY 31). This contest is free to enter, thanks to the support of the Chen Lab of JHU’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. Read more here.

We are also open for submissions of critical web features year-round, including reviews of books, performances, and exhibits; essays; literary and arts criticism; public-facing scholarship; and interviews. 

We are open for general submissions (poetry, fiction, literary translation, creative nonfiction, criticism, and public-facing scholarship) for both print and web in September and October; read our guidelines here

We open for contest submissions for the Stephen Dixon Fiction Prize and Anne Frydman Translation Prize in April; read about the prizes and their guidelines here

Our three-dollar administrative fee is waived for subscribers, as are our April contest fees. If you are interested in becoming a subscriber, click here. Subscribers can now submit general submissions year round; if you are a subscriber, email to request your fee-waived "Subscriber Submission" link.

Thank you for your interest in The Hopkins Review.

In partnership with the Chen Lab of JHU’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, The Hopkins Review presents the first ever fiction Made to Read & Investigate (fMRI) Writing Prize. In this unique flash fiction contest, winning stories will not only be published by The Hopkins Review, but also serve as the basis for a new scientific study of people’s brain activity while reading stories. This award aims to create new literature and new science, while generating awareness of and interest in both fields in the city of Baltimore. 

High school and adult writers in Baltimore City can enter for a chance to see how your words affect readers’ brains!

Adult writers (18+) who are residents of Baltimore City (including students currently enrolled in in-person college or graduate programs in Baltimore City) are eligible to submit work to the fMRI Writing Prize.
High school writers (14 – 18) who live in Baltimore City are eligible to submit work to the fMRI Youth Writing Prize. 

Entry Rules and Criteria
Open for submissions throughout the month of June AND EXTENDED THROUGH JULY writers should submit one piece of original flash fiction (a story of 500-1500 words). We can only consider previously unpublished work (stories that have been self-published in their entirety on social media or personal websites are also ineligible), and work that is not AI-generated. Stories will be considered by the Hopkins Review editorial team, with input from the scientific team in the Chen Lab.
Stories will be evaluated on their literary merits. Plots can certainly be complex, ambiguous, or nuanced; and language can certainly be dynamic and surprising.
One or more winners will be chosen from both the youth and adult contests. 

Winner & Finalist Prizes
The winning stories will be used in a neuroscience experiment: Dr. Chen’s lab will record brain activity while people are reading or listening to the stories, and as they talk about the stories, in order to study the neural systems that support memory. Each winner will receive publication by The Hopkins Review as an open-access online feature at (including standard publishing contracts, granting nonexclusive world rights and permission to reproduce in print and audio for scientific papers), a $500 prize, participation in a public event/reading, a written report about their story’s experiment results, a framed graphic created from their story’s brain data, and a visit to Dr. Janice Chen’s brain imaging lab on the Hopkins campus to learn about how their story contributed to science.
Additional finalists may be selected for publication, in which case they will receive a $100 prize. This is a free contest, supported by Dr. Janice Chen’s lab.

Sponsors & Points of Contact
This contest is a collaboration between assistant professor Janice Chen (and her brain imaging lab) and associate professor Dora Malech, editor in chief of The Hopkins Review in the Writing Seminars department at JHU.
Submission reviews for the contest are being coordinated by Iris Lee (BA ’24, MFA candidate ’26), with additional support from Sammy Tavassoli (BA ’23, PhD candidate ’30). Please, email Iris ( and Sammy ( with any questions.


More Information

Read about Dr. Janice Chen and the contest coordinators here:


We are currently interested in book reviews and literary essays/criticism, public-facing scholarship, and arts criticism/journalism (film, dance, theater, performance, visual art, and beyond). See Features to get a sense of what we’ve been publishing. We welcome reviews of work in translation, books published by smaller presses and university presses, and work that has received less critical attention. If you are including work by another artist or artists (visual art, for example) in your review or essay, it is your responsibility to obtain permission. We pay $40 per web feature, or a two-year print subscription (usually $63). Include a bio and email address in your cover letter. Submit one work at a time, but feel free to let us know in your cover letter if you would be interested in contributing web features on a more regular basis.

Please do not submit fiction, poetry, translation, or creative nonfiction (personal essays without a critical or craft connection); we consider those for both print and online during our yearly open reading period in October.

Our submission fee is waived for subscribers. If you are interested in taking out a subscription to the Review, click here. If you subscribe, email to request a private, fee-waived "Subscriber Submission" portal to submit your work, instead of this one. Subscribers can submit in any genre for both print and online at any time of year.

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