Abstract The concept of public participation is one of growing interest in the UK and elsewhere, with a commensurate growth in mechanisms to enable this. The merits of participation, however, are difficult to ascertain, as there are relatively few cases in which the effectiveness of participation exercises have been studied in a structured (as opposed to highly subjective) manner. This seems to stem largely from uncertainty in the research community as to how to conduct evaluations. In this article, one agenda for conducting evaluation research that might lead to the systematic acquisition of knowledge is presented. This agenda identifies the importance of defining effectiveness and of operationalizing one's definition (i.e., developing appropriate measurement instruments and processes). The article includes analysis of the nature of past evaluations, discussion of potential difficulties in the enactment of the proposed agenda, and discussion of some potential solutions.
- citizen advisory committees
- consensus conference