Exploring Research Themes in Public Engagement Within a Natural History Museum: A Modified Delphi Approach

Seakins & Dillon (2013) full text summary PDF

For which topic were research priorities identified?

public engagement in a natural history museum

In which location was the research priority setting conducted?

Europe - United Kingdom

Why was it conducted at all?

In a vast and rapidly expanding research field in museum learning and public engagement with science, researchers are spoiled for choice in terms of possible areas in which to focus their study. Even within one of the many museums, science centres or other institutions at the forefront of public engagement with science, a variety of possible questions could spark the interests of researchers, keeping them occupied for the remainder of their professional life. However, research is increasingly seen as a collaborative endeavour and the ‘practitioners'—the educators, programme developers, directors, scientists and evaluators—all have their own ideas as to what should and could be researched. Researchers are thus challenged with how these, the concerns and interests of the people who know the museum, its collections and exhibits, as well as its visitors, best, should be respected and integrated into research agendas.

What was the objective?

to identify research themes of importance to practitioners and stakeholders and not only to scholars and academics

What was the outcome?

a ranking list of 7 research topics

How long did the research prioritization take?

No information provided.

Which methods were used to identify research priorities?

Delphi; workshop

How were the priorities for research identified exactly?

Step 1: workshop: series of statements written on posters, selected and informed from conversations with staff and researchers about possible research directions, statements deliberately controversial, statements chosen to provoke debate and discussion, individuals asked to note any responses to statements followed by group discussion. Step 2: data processing: thematic analysis: seven topics emerged. Step 3: Delphi round 1: panel members asked to rank topics and write few sentences of justification. Step 4: Delphi round 2: panel members asked to re-rank topics based on group ranking of round 2

Which stakeholders took part?

Individuals working either in the public engagement group or in the science group of the Natural History Museum in London. 9 participants.

How were stakeholders recruited?

Individuals working in the Public Engagement and Science groups of the Natural History Museum, London, were selected to take part in the study.

Were stakeholders actively involved or did they just participate?

Stakeholders were mere participants of the research prioritization process; they were not actively involved in the process.