Quality criteria for scientific futures research
The article discusses the quality criteria of futures research in the 'Futures Map' frame. The Futures Map is a comprehensive description of the outcomes of a futures research process. It comprises all relevant pictures of the future identified during the process and all relations between these pictures. The article suggests that the key task of scientific futures research is to improve the validity of Futures Maps. A high internal validity means that the futures mapping process is well-organized. A high external validity means that the constructed Futures Map is good. The key contribution of the article are six pragmatic criteria of external validity of the Futures Maps. The suggested criteria of internal and external validity are compared with the quality criteria defined by the German Netzwerk Zukunftsforschung. The prospects of futures research as a field of science depend first of all on its research methods. The suitable methods do not, however, guarantee a high quality research effort. Based on the defined validity criteria, the article discusses the choice of the research methods as well as the evaluation of particular applications of the methods in practical research projects.