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The Delphi: An Underutilized Method of Scholarly and Practical Research for a Public Relations Field in Transition.

Watson, T. and Wakefield, R., 2013. The Delphi: An Underutilized Method of Scholarly and Practical Research for a Public Relations Field in Transition. In: International Public Relations Research Conference, 7--10 March 2013, Coral Gables, FL, USA.

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Wakefield & Watson - Delphi Method (IPRRC 2013).pdf



This paper introduces, analyzes, and explains the Delphi method of research, particularly as it applies to certain aspects of the public relations industry. The Delphi technique became known some fifty years ago when the Rand Corporation used it extensively for forecasting. Since then, scholars and forecasters have used it periodically for early, qualitative explorations into complex issues or domains. The overall purpose of the Delphi is to facilitate formal discussion among selected experts in a given domain around a particular topic; it is particularly useful when those experts cannot easily come together in one place. The method encourages the sharing of diverging worldviews over a few “rounds” or iterations in the hope that the views may converge into some direction around the given topic. For this reason, the Delphi has often been used in situations or environments that tend to be somewhat ambiguous and where interviews and surveys are neither timely nor appropriate. Public relations scholars started incorporating the Delphi method into their research in the late 1980s, and the technique has since been employed to explore broad-ranging issues among experts on at least seven or eight occasions. It has also been used to explore ethical norms. However, public relations literature contains little discussion about the technique and its possible applications or implications for developing knowledge in the field. This paper, then, is intended to dissect the Delphi method so as to offer guidance to public relations scholars who may wish to use it in future studies. The authors, both of whom have conducted Delphi studies, believe that the method is valuable in examining topics that are emerging or underdeveloped in the field; however, certain precautions are necessary in order to ensure that the research achieves the desired effects. The paper is created through a literature review of similar articles on Delphi studies in other domains, notably health communications, followed by an examination of some studies conducted to advance issues in public relations. The authors explore the most appropriate situations for using a Delphi and list the benefits and disbenefits of different aspects or applications of the method. They trace the evolution of Delphi research from its early roots into the era of the Internet and social media, which offer new tools for increasing the number of respondents and moving through the Delphi process more quickly than could previously be done. In advancing such an examination of the Delphi, this paper should be a useful addition to emerging public relations literature.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Delphi Study ; Public Relations ; Research ; Qualitative Method
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:20832
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:01 May 2013 10:36
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:47


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