n Innovation : journal of appropriate librarianship and information work in Southern Africa - Application of the Delphi technique to make sense of indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights in a virtual society

Volume 2014, Issue 48
  • ISSN : 1025-8892



Documentation of indigenous knowledge (IK) has recently become a topic of considerable interest within social sciences research. However, traditional scientific review processes may not be well suited for evaluating the merits and demerits of this kind of research especially in situations where the available scientific evidence is limited or where no local expertise may be available. This paper aims to examine the Delphi research technique's application and suitability to IK related research. It also identifies its distinguishing features and the practical pitfalls which could undermine the proper adminstration of the Delphi to research issues relating to IK.

A panel of four experts in IK, intellectual property rights (IPRs) and digital archiving participated in three iterations of the study. The Digital Innovation South Africa (DISA) was used as a case. The methodology and the guidelines themselves were found to be useful and appropriate by the panelists. The study experts were able to reach consensus about culturally appropriate issues informing the protection of indigenous intellectual rights in electronic environments. The article concludes that The Delphi consensus method could be useful more generally for consulting experts in the field for culturally appropriate best practice regarding the documentation and protection of indigenous cultural rights.

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