The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Excellence

The PRS Effectiveness Award Winner 2006

The results of this year’s Prosper Riley-Smith Effectiveness Award have been announced by the Association for Qualitative Research (AQR). In the most closely fought battle in its history, the judges have bestowed the award upon two entrants, Acacia Avenue and Opinion Leader Research.

Now in its fourth year, the Prosper Riley-Smith Effectiveness Award has quickly gained a reputation as one of the most prestigious in the qualitative industry. Its purpose is to reward qualitative research effectiveness and despite it being a close-run competition, what set out the winners from the other entrants was both their clear demonstration of the business value their research had generated and their imaginative, problem-solving approaches.

Opinion Leader Research’s paper demonstrated how the Department of Health had taken democracy beyond the ballot box in creating the White Paper on healthcare outside hospitals. The vision was to see patients, the public and members of staff designing family health and social care that would challenge the NHS and meet expectations in the 21st century. Opinion Leader Research demonstrated how their work had employed a variety of research techniques ranging from questionnaires to resource packs. At the heart of their approach were deliberative events – providing necessary depth for true engagement in the extended qualitative sessions. The research resulted in policy makers identifying a number of specific policies within the White Paper because of the priority given to them by the public. These included greater focus on mental wellbeing and more help being needed for carers.

The winning submission from Acacia Avenue showcased the new research model it has developed. The model exposes the reasons for fundamental differences between people’s attitudes and behaviours, and demonstrates how, by adopting a particular stance, vernacular or tone, this could bring about changes to people’s behaviour, not just their attitudes. An example of where the model would be particularly useful would be in respect to the environment, pollution and recycling, i.e. topics beset with lots of ideology but very little action.

“What impressed us most about Acacia Avenue’s paper was its use of qualitative thinking which led to actionable and measurable results” Fiona Jack comments. “We were particularly impressed by the ‘chutzpah’ Opinion Leader Research displayed in tacking such a potentially daunting project and its logistical skills in actually making it happen. We also found the iterative aspect of its project innovative.”

The judging panel comprised Fiona Jack, Chairman of AQR and fellow AQR committee members Audrey Niven and Darren Hanley. They were joined by Jane Walton, consumer insight director at Scottish and Newcastle, Giles Lury, director of The Value Engineers, and Dan O’Donoghue, worldwide planning director at Publicis.

The Prosper Riley-Smith Effectiveness Award is in its fourth year and is named in memory of Prosper Riley Smith, former Chairman of AQR.