Methodology

The Panel questions will be emailed tri-weekly to the members of the panel, and each responds electronically at his or her convenience. The response by the expert will be limited to one to three sentences.

Panelists may link out to outside resources or consult whatever resources they like before answering. In some instances, a panelist may neither agree nor disagree with a statement, and there can be two very different reasons for this. One case occurs when a panelist is an expert on a topic and yet sees the evidence or has experience on the exact claim at hand as ambiguous. In such cases the panelists may vote "uncertain". A second case relates to statements on issues removed from the experts expertise that he or she feels unqualified to vote. In this case, panelists may vote "no opinion".

Members of the public will be free to suggest questions, and the panelists may suggest many themselves. Members of the “the confab club” are responsible for deciding the final version for each question. Answers will be posted on the webpage. The public may also particpate in the discussion tgrough the comment section.

It should be apparent that the proposed format is not free of methodological tensions , as with any of the methodologies and tools used to inform policy-makers for that matter.

Potential Benefits

  • thumbs-up
    Responses are immediately usable and accessible to policy-makers. 
  • thumbs-up
    Alleviates unstructured group consensus (e.g. workshops, conferences).
  • thumbs-up
    No-one relies on the opinion of the best-regarded expert, especially on contentious policy issues.
  • thumbs-up
    Estimates consistently outperform those of individuals.

Potential Pitfalls

  • thumbs-down
    Range of cognitive biases (e.g. expert bias).
  • thumbs-down
    Tendency to provide socially desirable answers, both in front of the panel experts and the representing (political) institution (i.e. potential conflict of interest)

Panel Selection

The panel will be selected to include a heterogeneous set of experts with a keen interest in STI policy issues, to be geographically diverse, including academic scholars, policy practitioners and independents as well as older and younger individuals.

Statistics teaches that a sample of (say) 40 opinions will be adequate to reflect a broader population if the sample is representative of that population. Thus, the proposed size of the panel will consists of a minimum of 40 experts.

>