tools directory

Deliberative Mapping

Deliberative Mapping

What situations is this tool used in?

Deliberative Mapping enables members of the public and specialists to weigh up evidence in order to reach a joint decision on a complex issue. It combines different methodologies to enable participants to rate different options against a set of criteria, with the aim of delivering a more robust decision that better reflects the values of members of the public.

Who is this tool aimed at?

Deliberative Mapping is particularly used to aid policy makers in understanding public preferences, especially when the issue area is complicated. Input is sought from a diverse panel of members of the public, as well as a range of specialists reflecting the different view of relevant organisations and disciplines.

How Is the Tool Used?

Two approaches are combined to create the Deliberative Mapping process: stakeholder decision analysis (SDA) and Multi-Criteria Mapping (MCM) – a software-based tool for appraising a number of options against a set of criteria.

The sampled group of members of the public (around 40) is divided into citizen panels. The panels and specialists (of which there may be around 20) work through a number of stages – both separately and together – to assess the options. This involves learning from each other through face-to-face contact and a joint workshop, as well as separate workshops and interviews. All participants have opportunities to score and rank the various options, both before and after the joint workshop. The final output takes the form of a ‘map’ showing the way in which different options perform based on different perspectives, including any underlying reasoning.

Who has used the tool?

In 2002, the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at Sussex University ran a Deliberative Mapping exercise. The process explored the ‘kidney gap’ – the disparity between the number of people waiting for kidney transplants and the number of donor kidneys available. 34 diverse citizens from North London participated in the process, alongside 17 specialists. The outputs pointed towards two options that performed better than the others in terms of preference, with a strong level of consistency between citizens and specialists.


Full ‘kidney gap’ case study

Where to find out more

Overviews of Deliberative Mapping

Deliberative Mapping summary booklet