Definition – The Delphi technique involves a wide range of stakeholders in a survey, usually to build knowledge about a contemporary issue or to support the forecasting of future conditions and developments. Originally developed in the 1950s, the Delphi technique has been widely used across research fields and is accepted as a method for achieving a convergence of opinion regarding real-world knowledge and for forecasting future changes.
The technique has several distinguishing characteristics:
- it is an iterative process, consisting of two or more rounds;
- analysis and feedback occurs at the end of each round, with the outcomes of the analysis informing subsequent rounds;
- there is a level of anonymity amongst the participants, which facilitates creative thinking outside of institutional norms; and
- it can give everyone a voice in the process.
A Delphi survey may be used as a tool for analysis rather than decision-making, aiding the development of potential solutions and helping researchers to identify the roots of consensus or disagreement.
Relevance to SUMP – For SUMP processes, the Delphi survey approach can be used in integration and participation processes. Web-based Delphi surveys can provide a cost-effective tool during SUMP preparation.
Source: Carter and Sheriff (2011)