Horizon Scanning is a foresight approach that identifies priorities for future policy, practice, or research. There are a range of Horizon Scanning methods from literature reviews to expert panels, workshops and interviews. What binds these methods together is drawing on expert knowledge, to seek out cuttingedge directions. This infosheet specifically looks at Delphi Exercises, which have been increasingly used to source, develop, negotiate, and build consensus. By returning multiple times to the same group of experts – often through a survey – recommendations are refined.

  • Strategic Priorities Establishment: Establishes expert-derived evidence on strategic priorities, e.g., to guide future investment in research or for public policy interventions.

  • Opportunity and Risk Identification: Identifies emerging opportunities and risks, as well as critical knowledge gaps that need filling.

  • Actionable Insights: Provides clear signposting for action, which is especially important when dealing with complex societal challenges.

  • Proactive Approach: Ensures a proactive, anticipatory approach, as opposed to reactively waiting for problems.

  • Consensus Facilitation: Highlights where consensus amongst expert stakeholders can be more easily attained.

  • Consensus Bias: Traditional focus on consensus means that (inevitable) differences and tensions in expert positions can be underrepresented (although there are some examples where divergence has been embraced).

  • Expert Management for Sign-off: Achieving sign-off will require the coordinating team to manage their experts appropriately to ensure they feel comfortable with the final Horizon Scan output.

  • Organizational Work in Delphi Process: Considerable organizational work, e.g., chasing individuals for responses at every part of the Delphi process to avoid or mitigate delays.


Energy-SHIFTS: This EU Horizon2020 project ran four Horizon Scanning exercises to identify 100 priority Social Sciences and Humanities questions for each of the following policy areas: Renewables; Smart Consumption; Energy Efficiency; and, Transport and Mobility. A video on What is Horizon Scanning? was also produced by the project.


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