A new research system developed by global, nonprofit, research institution RAND Corporation provides scientific support to the effectiveness of crowdsourding-based research.
According to a press release, the system, called ExpertLens, incorporates elements of three well-known research approaches. The Delphi method, which organizes panel of experts who share opinions remotely the Nominal Group Technique, where experts meet face-to-face and crowdsourcing. All methods have pros and cons, so the ExpertLens system combines the best of each for use in collecting opinions about problems and creating forecasts.
During the first phase of an ExpertLens process participants answer a series of questions. In the second phase, they review the group’s responses and discuss their answers using online discussion boards. In the third phase, participants re-answer phase one questions based on the additional information they received during the feedback and discussion in the second phase.
The academic paper published by the system developers, says the approach is iterative, does not require participants to develop consensus, and determines what the group “thinks” by statistically analyzing data collected in all rounds of the elicitation.
The paper, available online, describes the ExpertLens system and methodology, briefly discusses trials, provides conceptual arguments for why it is an appropriate model for eliciting expert opinions, illustrates its main components and analytics by using an infrastructure investment example, and discusses a research agenda for testing the underlying tenets of the approach.
RAND describes itself as dedicated to promoting scientific, educational, and charitable purposes for the public welfare. For more than six decades they have used scientific analysis to benefit the public good. Research findings are disseminated as widely as possible— more than 10,000 RAND reports and commentary are available online.