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Four phases of the eDelphi Process, Part 1: Creating a Panel And a Query

January 5, 2019

Four phases of the eDelphi Process 1/4

During its twenty years of development, eDelphi has been built as a network utility for qualitative delphi research.

It emphasizes the interactive learning process of an all-round and multidisciplinary expert panel, instead of just data collecting and recycling. As an example of this, we will be using the four possible routes to end up to technological singularity, sketched by Vernor Vinge.

By technological singularity he means a new evolutionary phase when the significance of the machines will outweigh the human abilities.

The phase will be a result of a changing relationship between the human and the machine. For this video instruction there is an open delphi panel with the title Technological Singularity: https://www.edelphi.org/technological-singularity . This panel is referred to as the Case panel later in the instructions.

The eDelphi process consists of four phases that are:

  1. Creating a panel and a query
  2. Building an expert panel
  3. Executing the delphi rounds
  4. Analyzing, presenting and reporting the delphi results

In the first part, we will create a new panel and create a query for it .

Part 1: Creating a Panel and a query

The case panel is focused on far future, of which we do not have certain knowledge.

Thus nobody has an objective mandate to claim that a certain alternative is the one and only possible future.
Instead, everybody has a possibility to argument why a certain future is more desirable or probable than another. According to the delPhi method - each argument is also anonymously open for either supportive or opposing arguments.

In addition to anonymity and expert argumentation, delphi method includes iteration of the process, so that it is possible for panelists to change and edit their answers.

They can also try to influence other panelists’ views.

In most cases, iteration is executed as a process that contains several delphi rounds. Thus the panel manager can pick new questions from the previous rounds for panelists to “vote” on.

The case Delphi is nevertheless executed as a one-round delphi - the so called “Real-Time Delphi”. In a one-round delphi panel the questions and the answers are visible in real time during the whole round.

The Technological Singularity -panel contains four future thesis and background information for them.  The panel is infinitely open and the material it contains is based on the answers of delphi method students.

Creating a New Panel

At the top left of the eDelphi home page, you will see the title: CREATE NEW PANEL, and below it, START CREATING A NEW PANEL. Click on the title

Enter the basic information of your panel in the opening window.

Write the title of the panel in the upper field. We recommend a relatively short title, because it will be the end part of the panel’s URL-address. In the text field below, write the description of the panel.

Then click on the FINISH button.

Now you will see the front page view of your panel.

On the left side, you will see the title MATERIALS.

By clicking on the icon next to it, you can import for example. background material or images from your own GOOGLE DRIVE account to the panel.

By clicking on the second icon, you can create a document directly in eDelphi.

In the middle of the page, you will see the title QUERIES. By clicking on the icon next to it, you can create queries for your panel.

On the right side, you will see the title BULLETINS. By clicking  on the icon next to it, you can create bulletins for the panelists..

Additionally, you will find the ADMINISTRATION tab to manage your panel processes, and the REPORT AN ISSUE -tab.
eDelphi is an open source software, so it is based on the activity of the users and the user community.

From the administration tab you can define the type and the status of the panel.

If you choose OPEN as your panel’s type, any eDelphi user can participate in the panel.

If the option CLOSED is chosen, one can participate only through a manager’s invitation. Status options are DESIGN, IN PROGRESS and ENDED. The panelists can  answer to the queries only, if the status of the panel is IN PROGRESS.

Creating a Query

After you have created a panel, you will be able to create one or more queries for it. You can do so either directly from the panel’s front page, or from the Administration tab. On the administration tab, you will find the title QUERIES at the bottom of the page.

Click on the icon next to it!

Now you will see the MANAGE QUERIES -tab view in front of you. On the right side of the page, you will see your query in edit mode. In the SETTINGS tab, enter the basic query information.

In the TITLE-field, type the title of your query.

In the lower text field, enter a description if necessary

At the bottom of the page you can choose the status of your query:  EDIT, ACTIVE or CLOSED. Only in active mode the query is visible to the panelists.

After filling in the information, click on the SAVE -button.

Now you can see the query on the left side of the page below the QUERIES header.

You can edit the query by clicking on the "paper and pen" icon next to the query title.

After you have entered the basic information, you can create the actual questions within the query. In eDelphi, the questions will be placed one after another, like in a pearl string.

One page in eDelphi equals one question or a specifying text section in the pearl string of query questions. The manager can change the order of the questions, and partly edit the questions any time during the eDelphi process.

Open the PAGES -tab of your query. There are two options under the PAGES heading: CREATE PAGE and CREATE SECTION.

With sectioning, the manager can help to parse the questions. A section will not be visible for the panelists, and this option is not usually used in shorter queries. Again, very long queries are not recommended either, since the activity of the panelists decreases systematically towards the end of the query.

By clicking on the title CREATE PAGE, you can create a new question to your query. In eDelphi, one question equals one page. This feature allows the panelist to answer queries even one question at the time

Text Question

Click on the CREATE PAGE-button. This will open the menu window in front of you.
Now you can choose a suitable query type from the offered menu.

By moving the cursor over the page, you can see a description of each question type on the right.
The TEXT -page is suitable for example as the first introduction page of the query. Click the option!

Type the title of the page in the TITLE field. Continue by entering the desired text in the TEXT field. It is also possible to copypaste text in the field. You can add pictures, hyperlinks  and media clips such as video embeddings from the toolbar above the text field. You can add a video clip by clicking the film-icon, and entering the embed code of the video to the pop up window.

You can find a separate video instruction for using the tool bar from the eDelphi’s HELP tab.

From the bottom of  the page you can define whether the query is visible and commentable, and whether the discussion will be visible also for other panelists.

It is typical for a delphi process that the panel manager changes the status of the questions and the queries in different phases of the execution.

In a multi-round delphi, the answers are often invisible for other panelists in the beginning of the process. Thus the panelists can form their own opinions independently and without knowing what other panelists have answered.

When the page is ready, click the SAVE button.

Two Dimensional Scale

To start an actual query after the introduction page, click on the CREATE PAGE-button. Choose a suitable query type from the menu. All the questions in the case panel are of the 2D-scale type. The two-variable scale question is probably the most used query type of the Delphi method. It is particularly suitable for evaluating future theses. You can find instructions for the other query types from the HELP tab of eDelphi.

Enter the title of your query in the TITLE field. Write your question or your future thesis in the THESIS field and write the explanation or the background information in the bottom text field. You can edit the explanation text in many ways, and for example. add video clips, pictures and hyperlinks. An explanation is not mandatory, so you can also ignore the text field.

Below the text fields, you will see the default settings of your query. You can edit the settings by clicking on SHOW OPTIONS. With the LABEL X and LABEL Y fields, mark the criterion variables for your question. The most commonly used criterion variables in the two dimensional scale are probability and desirability. Other commonly used criteria are for example significance, importance and feasibility.

From the TYPE menu, you will find options for how the scales are visually displayed.
The options are a Radio Button list and a Slider, where the both variables are evaluated on their own scales. The third option is a Graph, where the variables are placed in the same chart while X is defined as the horizontal axis and Y as the vertical axis.

From X-OPTIONS and Y-OPTIONS you will adjust the scale scopes.

You can add options by clicking on ADD OPTION and delete options by clicking on the cross next to the row . At the bottom of the page you define if the question is visible and commentable, and whether the conversation and the answers are also visible to other panelists. Remember to SAVE your query.

When there are multible 2D-questions in the query, it makes sense to speed up the query building process by cloning one question. In that way you do not need to enter the settings over and over, but only edit the descriptive fields.
With multiple 2D-scale questions in one query, it is possible to add a summary of the panelist’s own answers to the end of the query.

You can do so by adding a page called 2D COLLAGE. It shows a collage of all the answers of the query’s 2D-questions in graphic form. This page does not require answering from the panelist’s side. However, for the summary you can only choose those 2D-scale questions that have the same amount of values on their X and Y axis’.

The Collage-feature does not support other query types.

Testing the Query

When you have finished creating the query, you can go and check how the panel visually looks like, and test answer the questions.

The panel shown has only 2D-scale questions, which is the most popular question type in argumentative (AAR-GIU-MENTATIV) delphi method. There are many other popular query types in delphi, like Time Series, Timeline, Grouping and Multiselection. There is also a  2D Scale Multiselection question , which is used for example. to evaluate a series of thesis or megatrends.  

Take notice, that the questions will be locked after somebody has answered them. In other words, when there are answers you cannot change the settings. The text parts you can edit in any phase of the delphi round.
However, it is possible to empty the test answers from the query. After that, editing is again possible.

Open the ADMINISTRATION tab, and click on the title QUERY RESULTS. On the left side, you will see all the queries you have created. Click on the Trash can -icon next to the query if you want to delete the answers. You can do the same to individual questions.

Materials and Bulletins

You can create background material for your panel in the eDelphi program or import Google documents, either from the PANEL tab or the ADMINISTRATION tab of your panel.

On the left corner of the PANEL tab, there is a heading DOCUMENTS, and next to it two icons. By clicking on the first icon you can import Google Documents to your panel. This requires that you have a Google account and the related Google Drive services. If you have an active google account, you will see a list of your own Google Documents. Tick the box next to a document you want to import.

Google Documents can be, for example, pictures, presentations, texts and tables. If you want to attach images to your query pages, you must first import the images as Google documents to your Panel Materials. When downloading, the document either opens directly to the workspace or downloads as a file to the panelists computer, depending on the document’s format. When you have chosen the documents, click on the IMPORT button.

By clicking on the second icon, you can create a new document in eDelphi.

Now you will see the MANAGE MATERIALS view. On the right side, you will see the title EDIT DOCUMENT. in the field NEW DOCUMENT , type the title of your document. You can create multiple pages in one document. In the field TITLE, type the title of the page.

In the lower text field, enter the content of the document page. You can, for example, formulate text, paste text from the clipboard, add hyperlinks, images, and videos with the toolbar above the text field. When your document is ready, click on the SAVE button.

You can see the background materials of your panel on the left side of the page. You can import more google documents or create new documents from the icons next to the BACKGROUND MATERIALS title. You can delete an individual document by clicking on the Trashcan -icon next to it.

On the right corner of the Panel’s front page there is a BULLETINS column. From here the manager can create documents concerning the course and agents of the Delphi-process. These documents can be for example a list of panel’s experts or a schedule.

You can add a bulletin by clicking on the ”Paper” -icon next to it. Now you will see a familiar text editor. It is possible to edit or remove bulletins from the icons next to the bulletins name.

Creating a panel and a query are features that are open and free for users to operate, as are also the features introduced in the next video instruction. They are inviting, managing, and classifying the panelists.