Assessment structure

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The research question about an assessment structure
What is a structure for an assessment product so that it:
  • contains a description of a certain piece of reality R↻ ,
  • the description is produced according to the use purposes of the product,
  • describes all the relevant phenomena that connect the decision under consideration and outcomes of special interest (called indicators),
  • combines value judgements with the descriptions of physical phenomena
  • can be applied in any domain,
  • inherits the main structure from universal objects,
  • complies with the PSSP ontology,
  • complies with decision analysis,
  • complies with Bayesian networks.


These requirements of the structure lead to the following solutions:

  • An assessment product is built in a modular fashion using individual pieces of descriptions of reality, called variables. The variables are collected with reference to the use purpose that the assessment is intended for.
  • The connections between variables in general, and between the decision and outcomes in specific, are described using causal relations. This leads to the causal network as the basic overall structure of the description of reality.R↻
  • All variables in the causal network of a particular assessment must be causally related to the indicators of the assessment.
  • The causal network of variables is complemented with information about the scope of the assessment and assessment-specific analyses and conclusions.


Table 2. The attributes of an assessment product (typically a report).
Attribute Subattributes Comments
Name Identifier for the assessment
  • Purpose defines the specific information need of the decision-making and the research question that is asked.
  • Boundaries define which parts of the reality are taken into the assessment and which are excluded within spatial, temporal and other dimensions.
  • Scenarios define particular conditions that are of interest irrespective whether they describe reality or not (e.g. what-if scenarios). D↷
  • Intended users are those for whom the assessment is made.
  • Participants are those who may participate in the making of the assessment. The minimum group of people for a successful assessment is always described. If some groups must be excluded, this must be explicitly motivated. D↷
Definition Causal diagram D↷

Other parts

  • Decision variables: decisions that are considered.
  • Indicators: outcome variables of interest.
  • Value variables: value judgements (usually about indicators).
  • Other variables: any variables that link to the causal network and are within the boundaries of the assessment.
  • Analyses: statistical and other analyses that contain two or more variables, e.g. optimizing.
  • Indices: lists of particular locations along spatial, temporal, or other dimensions. The variable results are calculated for these particular locations.

Note: Causal diagram and Other parts are not attributes but just descriptive subtitles. D↷

  • Results of indicators and assessment-specific analyses. The results of other than indicator variables are described only within the variables. Results can either be a repetition of the results of the indicators and analyses, or a summary of those, or anything between those.
  • Conclusions are based on the results, given the scope.

See also