By drawing lessons from earlier assessments and initiating new assessments/deliberative events to fill knowledge gaps (including clarifying the extent of uncertainties that will have to be addressed by decision makers), assessment practitioners and commissioners will produce integrated conclusions to support the creation of responsible policies for research and innovation.
The TranSTEP group will decide to end the process when a) they believe there is sufficient evidence (on facts, values, perceptions or alternatives) for concluding on the issue they have defined; or b) when practical constraints (such as available funding) makes it impossible to continue. At this point a report should be written integrating the results and deliberations of the process.
Results integration is a matter of collective judgement in the TranSTEP group. No algorithm can be provided, only argumentation based on the preceding steps. The situation analysis will have provided a problem formulation with a preliminary method reflection, which will have been used for evaluating the available assessments or for initiating new activities. Integration of the results will take the lessons from these (previous and new) assessments and apply them to the problem formulation, allowing a judgement to be taken on each aspect of the problem formulation.
If new assessment activities have been carried out they should be added to the systematic assessment review table also presented under ‘assessment review’.
Depending on the reviewed evidence and the problem formulation the group may end up with a consensus on recommendations regarding specific decisions or policies or mapping of points of consensus and dissent. Even if the group does not end up with an agreement, reporting the type of dissent, the situation analysis and assessment design deliberations will still be of great value to policy makers and other decision makers.
It should be clear that the robustness of the conclusions of the process will depend upon the quality of the deliberations. They will mirror the process of deliberation and will be a contribution to the knowledge on the issue at hand that reflects the knowledge status at the time of integration.
The secretariat should invest efforts in communicating the results to stakeholders and the public.
It is important to allow for sufficient time for this part of the process. Practical experience from assessment projects suggests that it is useful to start drafting the conclusions as early as possible in the process in order for the integration process to have sufficient time.
Another challenge is related to consent versus dissent: The potential for ‘engineering consent’ should be noted, i.e. that the process is facilitated to achieve a consensus which does not adequately respect differences in opinion. This will make the results less useful for the project owner(s). This challenge can be faced by addressing the topic explicitly and also by reporting transparently the process. Conversely, the problem of unsolvable conflict must also be tackled. The more controversial the issue is, the more important it is to employ experienced facilitators, to avoid that the dialogue stops because of differences in outlook. Strategies for identifying points of consensus should be employed, while noting the points where consensus is not possible.
Outcome of results integration: Conclusions and recommendations to the problem owner(s), policy makers, stakeholders and the public on the issue as it has been framed in the TranSTEP group.