Independent consultant Chris Barnham has been awarded the 2020 MRS Silver Medal.

The award is for his paper Qualitative semiotics: Can we research consumer meaning-making?, which explores the differences between Peircean and Saussurean semiotics and discusses how these two semiotic traditions construe meaning creation.

Chris also won the Silver Medal in 2010 for his paperEssence: the structure and dynamics of the brand, making him the first person to win the award twice since its inception, in 1979, to recognise the best paper published in each annual volume of the International Journal of Market Research.

Of this year’s winning paper, the judges said: “Without strong foundations, qualitative research is easily dismissed, and its validity questioned. Chris has written an authoritative and important paper that provides a theoretical basis for future qualitative practice.”

“The paper is engaging and well written; Chris clearly explains a complex theory and how he reaches his conclusions. It is original, relevant and develops the sector’s canon usefully – everything we look for in a Silver Medal paper.”

Chris has made a significant contribution to the understanding of qualitative research throughout his career and he was made a Fellow of MRS in 2016 after many years serving on the IJMR Editorial Advisory Board and supporting AQR’s professional development delivery.

On being awarded his second Silver Medal, Chris says: “It has been great to be recognised by MRS, and to win this award. Currently, there is a real need for innovative thinking in terms of qualitative theory. This is the best way to add value to qualitative research as a methodology and approach. I hope this paper makes a small contribution in that direction.”

Chris is keen to encourage other practitioners to submit papers to IJMR: “The IJMR may sometimes appear to be aimed at academic researchers, but this win shows that practitioners can compete on an equal footing with academics and see their work both published and recognised.”

The Editors are currently seeking novel approaches for improving data quality from self-administered questionnaires (deadline: 30 October) and submissions for a Special Issue focused on the historical development of market research (deadline: 31 January). Full guidelines can be found here.

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