All research is unique, but it all requires a valid method of processes to be reliable. The method of approaching the experiment is chosen by the researcher based on the type of research being attempted and the preferences of those involved.
The Delphi method is used by many academics around the world as a tool to inform and aid in analysis of their research. This process is a reputable way that researchers can collect, review, analyze, and weed out anonymous responses while obtaining feedback from experts. It works well for research focused on knowledge cloaked in ambiguity, but it’s not the best method of choice for all types of research.
Origins of the Delphi Method
The “Delphi Method” is frequently linked to military terminology and covert operations in movies and books. This isn’t off the mark too far, since its origins lay in the midst of a military project sponsored by the U.S. and developed by Norman Dalkey of the RAND Corp. The project, occurring in the 1950s, was intended to find ways to get the opinions of experts as to the operations of certain military strategies as the U.S. found themselves matched against the Soviet Union.
While the Delphi Method itself is no longer strictly classified through military operations, its characteristics remain used by researchers today. These are defined in four major parts:
● There is anonymity for those who are participating, giving them the confidence that they can openly share their opinions without expectations of conformity or fear of reprisal, pushback, or retribution
● Participants can review the advancement of the research as it progresses and adjust their opinions and views accordingly as new developments arise
● Feedback is given through controlled measures to the participants, letting everyone know what other perspectives are being addressed and allowing members to adjust their views or clarify accordingly
● The group responses are aggregated through quantitatively measurable data for analysis and interpretation
With guaranteed anonymity for their participation, this method is an invaluable tool when it comes to collect data on controversial subjects.
Challenges to Using the Delphi Method
Because the Delphi Method in theory is simple, it’s frequently a first-choice for many researchers. However, in order for it to work, there are many steps that must be undertaken before application.
First, the researcher must determine which aspects of their data collection are to be quantitative versus qualitative. While the Delphi Method can work on qualitative data, it’s better suited for quantitative or mixed methods.
Next, the challenge comes in determining the initial questioning itself. The researcher must decide whether to make the questions open-ended and broad to engage a wider audience or to make them focused and narrow to guide those participating towards a specific target idea. These questions can begin as broad and slowly become more and more targeted as the questioning rounds continue. When broad questions are applied, they take longer to analyze, however.
Finally, the challenge of determining the criteria that defines how experts will be chosen is placed on the researcher’s shoulders. In general, any expert must have knowledge of and experience with the topic that is chosen, must be willing and able to participate and have the time to do so, and must be able to communicate effectively with others.
Benefits of the Delphi Method
When all of the challenges are overcome, the Delphi Method has significant benefits. It’s flexible, so the researcher can adapt the techniques based on their needs. There are many opportunities to use this method in research today and technology increases the ability to find experts willing to participate.
The Delphi Method is set up for quantitative data collection but allows the researcher to also analyze qualitative measures rigorously.
When the experiment requires adaptability, validity, and innovativeness, the Delphi Method is often the technique to use.
Combining Your Research Technique and Impactio
Whether you use the Delphi Method or another technique, you need a program that you can insert your data and findings into easily. Impactio is an academic platform designed for research experts to take them from start to publication and beyond.
When you use Impactio, you can easily compile your text and data into headings, subsections, and charts, tables, and graphs. As you’re ready to publish, Impactio lets you print professional PDF documents or turn your work into web pages for seamless submission.
Whatever your method of choice is for your research, make Impactio your platform of choice for publication.