Participatory Procedures and Processes in Research Organizations. Impact on Research Agendas and Challenges for the (further) Development of Transdisciplinary Methods (PaFo)

Project description


In the course of KIT’s successful application for the federal excellence strategy of the German government, KIT committed itself to strengthening precautionary research at the interface between science, technology, and society. For this purpose, a KIT Science Week was introduced, with the primary aim of increasing the visibility of KIT in the public debate on the future role of science and technology in solving societal challenges and opening up or deepening the dialog between KIT, (urban) society, and the general public.

In the context of KIT Science Week 2021, the citizens’ dialog “Artificial Intelligence in our Everyday Life” was successfully conducted by ITAS in October 2021. Building on this positive experience, the KIT Presidium decided in December 2021 to conduct citizen dialogs or similar dialog procedures on a regular basis and to reflect on them conceptually and methodologically. Under the leadership of ITAS, the research project PaFo was initiated for this purpose.

Aims of the project

The goal of the PaFo project is to answer the following research questions:

  • How can the impact of participatory formats on research be effectively measured?
  • How can the results of dialog procedures be integrated into scientific research agenda (esp. of KIT)?

Methodologically, ITAS pursues the goal of experimenting with new procedures of citizen participation beyond the application of established methods and of continuously developing them further, e.g., methodological “add-ons” that enrich established processes. This can take place, for instance, in the form of citizen ambassadors who gain expertise through participation in various scientific formats and then actively contribute with their expertise to participation processes.

Work packages

WP1 Preliminary phase

  • Theoretical scoping of research questions; tracing “discourses of expectations” of stakeholders
  • ITAS internal exploration of participatory research activities
  • Identification of relevant actors in KIT
  • Planning (content and organization) of Dialogue Process 1 (DP1)

WP2 Dialogue processes

  • Planning, implementation and evaluation of a total of 5 DPs by ITAS
  • Criteria development; preparation of the empirical survey(s)
  • Surveys / interviews with participants (mixed methods)
  • Evaluation

WP3 Explorative research on impacts of participation / theory

  • Development of an appropriate indicator matrix
  • Adjustments of the indicator matrix during the project / incorporation of findings from the different DPs

WP4 Impacts of participation / empirical work

  • Impact on citizens: survey (application of the developed matrix)
  • Impact on KIT research agenda / program: survey (application of the developed matrix)
  • Impact on researchers or research management (of KIT)
  • Impact on the scientific experts involved in the DPs. Experts involved in the DP (application of the matrix)

WP 5 Comparative (long-term) analysis

  • Analysis of changes over time (impact measurement) along the indicators defined in WP3
  • Development and evaluation of methods (capacities)

WP6 Communication and Dissemination


Constanze Scherz, Dipl.-Soz.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-26814

Dr. Julia Hahn
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 30 40750493