Once there is a common understanding about what characterises the issue to be assessed and there is agreement upon the problem formulation and upon suitable methods to provide knowledge on the problem, there can be an assessment of whether existing evidence (previous assessments including deliberative initiatives) can provide the foundation the group needs to conclude on the issue.
This should be done in three steps:
- Asking the participants to provide to the secretariat their input about existing assessments, research or deliberative events they are aware of.
- Desk-top research by the secretariat to be presented to the TranSTEP group.
Fact finding activities (e.g. literature searches, web searches, analysis of databanks, and statistics, expert interviews, conference analyses) will need to be carried out.
- Review by the TranSTEP group of the existing assessments, which involves answering questions such as:
- Are the assumptions in the existing assessments compatible with the situation analysis, problem framing and method reflection in the group?
- How valid are the findings from existing studies for the topic at hand?
- Have any of the assessments been subject to controversy?
- Are any of the assessments likely to be seen as partial?
These questions could be structured into a Systematic assessment review. Questions b), c) and d) above will inform the judgement on robustness in the table.
Challenges: Challenges here will be to identify the relevant assessments and agree on the review of these. Sufficient time must be allocated to this task.
Outcome of assessment review: The review will end up with a judgement on whether there is sufficient evidence for integrating existing knowledge into a conclusion on the problem. If the group believes that it is not, then new assessment activities will, if possible, be initiated by the group. If the group cannot initiate new assessment activities it will integrate the review into a statement of the current knowledge status, with recommendations for further assessment activities to be initiated by other relevant actors.