Expert Panel

Expert panels are used when specialized input and opinion is required for an evaluation. Generally, a variety of experts are engaged based on various fields of expertise to debate and discuss various courses of action and make recommendations. They can be useful at different stages of an evaluation and can take place live, which poses logistical challenges if experts are busy or widespread, or remotely, as in the case of the Delphi Technique

The following description comes from: Department of Sustainability and Environment (2005) Book 3: The Engagement Toolkit. Effective Engagement: building relationships with community and other stakeholders p.36

"They are used often when the issue is highly contentious and decisions are likely to have possible legal ramifications or where the best possible results (based on expertise) are required. 

Expert panels allow citizens to hear a variety of informed (expert) viewpoints from which to decide on recommendations or courses of action in relation to an issue or proposal. 

Expert panels help participants to come to agreement on an issue, or to develop a series of recommendations on a proposal or community environmental issue. Such recommendations or proposals can then be forwarded to decision making bodies."


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Advice for CHOOSING this option (tips and traps)

The following advice comes from: Department of Sustainability and Environment (2005) Book 3: The Engagement Toolkit. Effective Engagement: building relationships with community and other stakeholders p.36

  • "Useful when an issue is complex and contentious. 
  • Useful where conflict exists to provide opinions which may have more credibility, and hence may assist in resolving the conflict. 
  • Useful when a variety of opinions are present, to provide a credible alternative opinion, based on credible expertise. 
  • Useful when the possibility of legal ramifications is present, as the experts’ report or opinions may carry weight in any future court case. 
  • Live expert panels are not as interactive as Fishbowls (where expert panels are seen as the fish in the bowls).
  • Experts can be expensive"

Advice for USING this option (tips and traps)

  • "Generally, this is used at the conclusion of participatory program where all available information has been considered.
  • Used mostly where specialised knowledge is required rather than public opinion"

If using a 'live' expert panel remember that:

  • "A long lead time may be needed to book appropriate experts. 
  • Format of the panel must encourage participation and dialogue between all panellists. 
  • A highly skilled moderator is required."



  • The Engagement Toolkit: Page 36 of this resource provides a detailed description and advice for using this the 'live' expert panel option for engagement and data collection.


Department of Sustainability and Environment (2005), Book 3: The Engagement Toolkit.Effective Engagement: building relationships with community and other stakeholders, The Community Engagement Network Resource and Regional Services Division Victorian Government Department of Sustainability and Environment. Retrieved from

Updated: 14th January 2014 - 1:51am
A special thanks to this page's contributors
Research Assistant, RMIT University.


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