SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.31 issue4Clinical supervision and support for bridging programme students in the greater Durban areaThe qualitative research proposal author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  


On-line version ISSN 2223-6279
Print version ISSN 0379-8577

Curationis vol.31 n.4 Pretoria  2008




The use of experts and their judgments in nursing research: An overview



JC BruceI; GC LangleyII; AA TjaleIII

IPhD, Associate Professor; Department of Nursing Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
IIPhD, Senior Lecturer; Department of Nursing Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
IIIPhD, Lecturer; Department of Nursing Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand,





Experts and their judgments are widely used in the fields of research, education, health care, law, commerce and technology. Expert judgment is known for its subjectivity and its potential for bias, which brings into question the accuracy and authenticity of judgmental data. At the same time there is acknowledgment of the valued contribution of judgmental data towards valid inferences in research and education. Maximizing the use of experts and their judgments has therefore become an endeavour of educationists and researchers alike.
Since this is not a research article its purpose is to guide and assist nurse researchers with important methodological and ethical decisions when using experts. Experts must be used in the context of appropriate research methods such as the Delphi and Nominal Group techniques. Sampling of experts and sample size is determined by the type and quality of data and the availability of population data; purposive and maximum variation sampling techniques are recommended as appropriate when sampling experts. Universal research ethics must be applied with particular consideration of aspects which may influence the truth value of consensus among experts and marginalization of minority or extreme viewpoints. Quantification of judgmental data is recommended and is important to minimize bias and to increase the authenticity of research findings.
The content includes: design considerations when using experts, sampling issues, ethical rules to be considered when enlisting experts and their judgments, optimal data collection approaches and managing judgmental data.

Keywords: expert, judgment, judgmental data, nursing research



“Full text available only in PDF format”




BENNER, P 1984: From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing Practice. Addison-Wesley: California.         [ Links ]

BENJAMIN, CO; ARCHIBOLD, E & SUAREZ, T 2004: Using expert panels to evaluate new technology. Journal of the Academy of Business and Technology, (Accessed 7 March 2007).         [ Links ]

BURNS, N & GROVE, SK 2005: The Practice of Nursing Research Conduct, Critique and Utilization. W B Saunders Co: New York.         [ Links ]

BURNS, N & GROVE, SK 2007: Understanding Nursing Research, building an evidence-based practice. Saunders Elsevier: St Louis.         [ Links ]

CHEEK, J & JONES, J 2003: What nurses say they do and need: implications for the educational preparation of nurses. Nurse Education Today. 23:40-50.         [ Links ]

COLTON, S & HATCHET, T 2004: The development of a research instrument to analyze the application of adult learning principles to online learning, (Accessed 7 March 2007).         [ Links ]

CRAWFORD, G & WILLIAMS, C 1985: A note on the analysis of Subjective Judgment Matrices. Journal of Mathematical Psychology. 29,387-405.         [ Links ]

DOWNING, SM; TEKIAN, A & YUDKOWSKY, R 2006: Procedures for Establishing Defensible Absolute Passing Scores on Performance Examinations in Health Professions Education. Teaching and Learning in Medicine. 18(1):50-57.         [ Links ]

GOMM, R;NEEDHAM, G & BULLMAN, A 2000: Evaluating Research in Health and Social Care. SAGE Publications: London.         [ Links ]

HARVILL LM; LANG FF & McCORD, RS 2004: Determining Component Weights in a Communications Assessment using Judgmental Policy Capturing. Medical Education online. 9(12):1-8.         [ Links ]

LINSTONE, HA & TUROFF, M 1975: Philosophical and methodological foundations of Delphi. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company: Massachusetts.         [ Links ]

LIST, D 2004: Maximum variation sampling for surveys and consensus groups. Adelaide: Audience Dialogue. Available at (Accessed 3 July 2007).         [ Links ]

MIRANDA, E 2001: Improving Subjective Estimates using Paired Comparisons. IEEE Software. Ericsson Research Canada. January/February 2001,87-91.         [ Links ]

NATHENS, AB; COOK, CH, MACHIEDO, G 2006: Defining the Research Agenda for Surgical Infection: A Consensus of Experts using the Delphi Approach. Surgical Infections. 7(2): 101-110.         [ Links ]

PATTON, MQ 2002: Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. Sage: Thousand Oaks, California        [ Links ]

POLIT, DF & BECK, CT 2004: Nursing Research Principles and Methods. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins: Philadelphia.         [ Links ]

RISCHBIETH, A & BLYTHE, D 2005: Ethics Handbook for Researchers. The Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society Clinical Trials Group. Melbourne.         [ Links ]

STEWARD, B 2001: Using Nominal Group Technique to Explore Competence in Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy Students during First-year Placements. British Journal of Occupational Therapy. 64(6):298-304.         [ Links ]

YOUSUF, MI 2007: Using Experts' opinion through Delphi Technique. Practical Assessment. Research and Evaluation 12(4):1-8.         [ Links ]



Professor Judith Bruce
Department of Nursing Education
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of the Witwatersrand
7 York Road
Parktown, 2193
Tel: (011)488-4272/4196; Fax: (011)488-4195

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License