The NLPES Excellence in Research Methods Award is presented to a legislative office or offices that used exemplary research methods in an evaluation or audit report released during calendar year 2022. The Excellence in Research Methods Award may be awarded to a maximum of three offices in a given year. If no office meets the criteria for the award, none will be awarded.
Each office may submit only one evaluation or audit report for consideration per award year. Any office that wins the award in a given year (that is, a recipient office) is not permitted to apply for the award in the following year. In the next subsequent award year, however, a recipient office may submit an evaluation or audit report released during either of the previous two calendar years.
What does this mean for 2023? The two recipient offices from 2021 (that is, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office and the Tennessee Office of Research and Education Accountability) may submit an evaluation or audit report released during either 2021 or 2022 for consideration for a 2023 Excellence in Research Methods Award.
Applicants must identify the methodology category or categories for which the evaluation or audit report is submitted. Successful applicants must demonstrate how the evaluation or audit report meets the category or categories:
- Exceptional breadth, depth and scope of fieldwork—successful application of a methodology that, while maintaining efficiency, takes the evaluation or audit to a more comprehensive level.
- Innovative or unusual applications of established methodologies—successful application of established qualitative or quantitative techniques in new areas or ways.
- Technical difficulty and sophistication—appropriate and successful use of advanced statistical techniques or software to efficiently and effectively address issues covered in an evaluation or audit.
Judges will evaluate each application based on the information presented in the report and the four-page written narrative. Successful applicants must address how the research method used in the evaluation or audit meets the following three criteria:
- Methodology Usefulness/Design (35%). The submission should demonstrate the selected methodology’s applicability to the evaluation’s or audit's objectives; the design of the methodology; and the usefulness of the methodology, given any data or other limitations encountered. Information provided in this section should clearly state the desired objectives, describe the methodologies considered and state why the selected methodology was the most appropriate to meet the objectives.
- Methodology Application (35%). The submission should demonstrate how the selected methodology was applied during fieldwork to meet the evaluation’s or audit's objectives in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Information provided in this section should clearly explain methodology procedures and explain how the execution of the selected research method contributed to the efficiency and/or effectiveness of the field work performed.
- Evaluation Results (30%). The submission should demonstrate that the selected methodology and resulting conclusions were appropriate for the evaluation or audit and were clearly described for the reader. Information provided in this section should describe how the results of the methodology contributed significantly to the development of the evaluation’s or audit's findings (problems) and recommendations (solutions), and demonstrate that the methodology’s resulting conclusions were appropriately and clearly described for the reader.
Submission packets for the Excellence in Research Methods Award must include the following:
- A completed Excellence in Research Methods submission form, including a one-paragraph summary or abstract of the nominated report. A printable PDF version of the 2023 submission form is available below.
- A copy of the nominated evaluation or audit report.
- A narrative of no more than four pages in length describing how the evaluation or audit report meets the selection criteria. If the report does not contain a detailed description of the evaluation methodology, you may submit any additional documentation necessary to explain the analysis as an appendix.
Note: Submissions involving contract work must demonstrate that the office's staff were integrally involved in all aspects of the evaluation/audit, including selecting, developing and applying the evaluation/audit methodology, and participating in making decisions involving the analysis of data and the findings contained in the evaluation/audit report.
Email your submission to each of the judges listed below by the May 5, 2023, submission deadline. Contact Megan McClure to request the submission form in Microsoft Word format. Applicants are responsible for submitting all documentation and materials to be considered by the submission deadline. Judges will not follow up to obtain additional materials nor will additional materials be considered after the submission deadline.
Please ensure that your submission packet meets all criteria for the award. All documents must be submitted electronically (links to documents on a website will not be accepted). PDF documents must not be protected in any manner that would prevent printing or require a password to access the documents. Documentation too large to email (e.g., video of a news report) should be discussed with the lead judge to determine a suitable method for submission. Applicants are encouraged to request each judge confirm that their submission was received.
The NLPES Awards Subcommittee selects a panel of three judges to review award submission packets. The winning office (or offices) will be asked to make a staff member available to be a judge for this award in the following award year.
The three judges for the 2023 Excellence in Research Methods Award are:
- Cade Graber (lead judge), Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit, firstname.lastname@example.org
- David Summers, Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, email@example.com
- Jake Dinsdale, Utah Office of the Legislative Auditor General, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have questions about the Excellence in Research Methods Award process, contact:
- Drew Dickinson, NLPES Awards Subcommittee chair (Virginia), email@example.com or 804-371-4575
- Micaela Fischer, NLPES Awards Subcommittee member (New Mexico), firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-986-4531
- Marcus Morgan, NLPES Awards Subcommittee member (Alabama), email@example.com or 334-604-1450