Software-based participatory tool for broad inquiries modeled according to the Delphi method
Mesydel is a computer tool aiming at faithfully implementing a large subset of the features of a Delphi survey: collection of data, multiple rounds of questionnaires, address book management, treatment and analysis of qualitative and quantitative questions, and dedicated analysis tools. The Delphi method, one of the most renowned 'expert' methods, is a prospective (also called foresight) method, which allows to survey a panel of experts a recent trend tends to extend the meaning of experts to 'experts of use', i.e. any layman/laywoman which, by his/her very position, has acquired some kind of knowledge on a particular topic ' in an iterative way: a typical Delphi survey consists of two rounds at least, with, between each round, a synthesis that is used as a base for the following questionnaire, allowing a 'controlled feedback'. One important feature of the method is that it is based on the intuitions and insights of a panel of experts. These experts do not have access to the answers of their peers, which avoids the self-moderation bias: in a situation where such confidentiality were not established, experts could chose to adopt more consensual answers and to express less clear, softer opinions. The Delphi method proved to be efficient in creating 'futuribles', i.e. scenarios that are deemed possible, but not certain.In order to move from the classical Delphi method to Mesydel, we had recourse to a method called 'Participatory Design': with this method, the end users of a piece of software and the programmers decide to work together right from the start of a project. Developers can therefore be viewed as glorified translators of end users demands (in this case, political science researchers) in computer code.
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Spiral research centre - Université de Liège (SPIRAL)