Standards and Quality Criteria for Futures Research

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Lars GERHOLD, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Elmar SCHUELL, Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, Austria
While quality criteria are well established and discussed in quantitative and qualitative empirical social research (e.g. Aeara 2006, Flick 2011, Bortz 2015, Mayring 2016), it remains an open question, how quality in scientific futures research could be assessed. This contribution presents a set of standards and quality criteria in futures research, developed and published by German professionals from academia and practice (Gerhold et al. 2015). The quality standards are organized in three groups that correspond with three principles of quality in futures research: First, there are standards of futures adequacy that focus on the intricacies that originate from dealing with future developments, i.e. developments and events that are not (yet) a fact. Second, there are standards that are derived from the scientific nature of futures research and which mark a fundamental difference to other non-scientific ways of dealing with future-related questions. Third, there are practice-oriented standards of effectiveness that ensure that futures studies serve the purposes they were launched for in the first place.

Inspired by the Standards for Educational Evaluation (Sanders 2006) all of the proposed quality standards are described according to a common structure consisting of an abstract, an overview text, specific guidelines, common mistakes, and a case example that illustrates the consequences of applying or ignoring the standards. Within the contribution, we will present the rationale of the general approach and describe how the standards could be used in research as well as in teaching futures studies by drawing on the authors’ experiences in teaching in the master’s degree programme on futures studies at Freie Universität Berlin.