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Delphi Technique

In the Delphi Technique, a series of consecutive questionnaires are distributed and used to determine participant perceptions. The Delphi Technique is frequently used to prioritize research topics and to generate consensus. This technique can be conducted in-person or virtually (e.g. online questionnaires).

far fa-dollar-sign fa-sm Budget (e.g. personnel, space, equipment) Low Medium High far fa-user-clock Time per interaction I expect to engage stakeholders for... An hour or less Half a day A full day far fa-calendar-check Number of interactions I expect to interact with stakeholders... 1-2 times Appx. 5 times 10+ times Engagement Purposes far fa-scrubber Identify and explore new perspectives or understanding far fa-scrubber Identify which topics are most important to stakeholders far fa-scrubber Develop research questions relevant to stakeholders far fa-scrubber Select outcomes and measures that matter to stakeholders far fa-scrubber Expand and diversify stakeholder outreach far fa-clock Time Frame

Hours to weeks, depending on how quick survey results are analyzed and depending on if you are doing in-person or virtual Delphi

fal fa-tasks-alt Workload LIGHT MEDIUM HEAVY
Appropriate Applications More useful for: far fa-scrubber Accessing a diverse group of participants across a wide geographic area far fa-scrubber Gathering anonymous responses far fa-scrubber Prioritizing topics far fa-scrubber Arriving at consensus on complex topics far fa-scrubber Brainstorming far fa-scrubber Collecting opinions from experts in a group while also safeguarding against undue influence of participants upon one another Less useful for: far fa-scrubber Audiences with a low reading level far fa-scrubber Tracking multiple issues at once Key Characteristics Resources Needed fas fa-money-bill-waveMoney far fa-scrubber Participant incentives far fa-scrubber Food or refreshments (if doing in-person Delphi) fas fa-paperclipMaterials and Resources far fa-scrubber Surveys (paper or virtually-based) far fa-scrubber Meeting space (if doing in-person Delphi) fas fa-usersPersonnel far fa-scrubber Facilitators (if doing in-person Delphi) far fa-scrubber Researchers knowledgeable about survey development and analysis far fa-scrubber Stakeholder experts on your chosen topic How To Choose a facilitator.
  1. A neutral person within your organization, who is familiar with research and data collection, is preferred.
Identify your experts.
  1. Your experts, or stakeholders, are those who have knowledge and experience about the issue you are investigating.
Define the issue.
  1. What is the issue or problem you are seeking to understand? Provide a clear and comprehensive explanation of the issue so that the experts know what they are providing feedback on.
Round one questions.
  1. Ask general questions to gain a broad understanding of the experts view on the issue. The question may go out in the form of a questionnaire or survey. Collate and summarize the responses, removing any irrelevant material and looking for common viewpoints.
Round two questions.
  1. The second round of questions should be formulated based on the answers to the first questions and should delve deeper into the topic to clarify specific issues. These questions may also go out in the form of a questionnaire or survey. Again, collate and summarize the results, removing any irrelevant material and looking for common viewpoints in order to begin to build consensus.
Round three questions.
  1. The final questionnaire is intended to bring the group closer to decision making. These questions ask participants to verify the summarization of their previous responses. Once again, look for common viewpoints to understand what the experts agree upon.
  2. *Note: You may wish to have more than three rounds to reach a closer consensus.
Act on your findings.
  1. After the final round of questions, your experts will (hopefully) have reached a consensus and provide you with an understanding of your issue. Analyze the findings in the context of your research and put plans in place to deal with future risks and opportunities to your project.
Adapted from
Notes The Delphi technique can be used as an alternative to conventional meetings, helping to avoid problems arising from powerful personalities, group pressures, and the effects of social status. Variations Modified Delphi Technique: In the Modified Delphi, a series of questionnaires are used to determine participant perceptions. The Modified Delphi Technique is frequently used to prioritize research topics and generate consensus. In the Modified Delphi Technique, round 1 of questionnaires includes pre-selected research topics from literature reviews or interviews with key informants. The Modified Delphi Technique can be conducted in-person or virtually (e.g. online questionnaires). Examples References / Other Resources

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University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

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