The Delphi technique in doctoral research: Considerations and rationale

This research article focused on doctoral students seeking to use the Delphi Technique in dissertation research.  In addition to detail description of the various Delphi techniques, an example of an original e-Delphi was included.


The purpose of this paper is to explore and provide extended details on the

Delphi technique research design. The focus was primarily on the doctoral student researcher audience because the Delphi technique appears to be coming increasingly popular as a research design for doctoral dissertations. The classical Delphi technique is described as well as a number of variations in design. To illustrate the process of conducting a Delphi study, an actual investigation was conducted and described.  The purpose of that Delphi study was to ascertain best future practices in helping doctoral students complete their doctoral program. The study conducted included three rounds with an expert panel of faculty who also served as dissertation chairs. A list of best practices was generated in the first round. These practices were then ranked in order of effectiveness in the second round. The third round asked the expert panel members to expand on how they would bring the suggested best practices into reality. The third round results were then coded using the methodology of Saldaña (2009), codes listed, and categories and subcategories evolving from the coding described. The final discussion includes the advantages and challenges of using the Delphi technique for doctoral research. The principle challenges include the difficulty of future forecasting, timing and commitment, panel membership, and bias. The advantages include the ability to define a problem where little is known, clarification through iteration, avoidance of issues such as groupthink because of panel anonymity, and the ability to have panel members located virtually anywhere as the process can all be done electronically.

Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Phillip L. Davidson
Year of Publication: 
Journal, Book, Magazine or Other Publication Title: 
Review of Higher Education and Self-Learning
Intellectbase International Consortium
Date Published: 
Monday, December 30, 2013
Place Published: 
Nashville, TN
Publication Language: 
David King