I want to measure the impacts of citizen science projects
...by co-evaluating via impact journeys

Why is it relevant?

Capturing impacts is a key challenge for citizen science practitioners. While a variety of approaches to impact assessment exist, involvement of a variety of stakeholders in the process can be ensured via co-evaluation approaches. 

How can this be done?

One such approach to co-evaluation is the impact journey approach, developed by the MICS project. This approach provides you a step-by-step approach for identifying and monitoring pathways of change of your initiative. You can define and monitor impacts with input from key stakeholders in citizen science: citizens, project coordinators, authorities and other stakeholders.  

The MICS impact journey approach is comprised of three main stages: a context analysis, the design and validation of the Impact Journey, and Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. These stages allow for the identification of relevant domains of change, expected impacts, and expected outcomes; formulating strategies for achieving desired changes; determining cause and effect relationships; and documenting causal assumptions. Each of these stages involves the input of relevant stakeholders via interactive and open workshops. 

Case Study: Riverfly (UK)

Riverfly was one of the five MICS case studies for assessing impact in citizen science. The initiative used a network of NGOs, scientists, agencies and interest groups to coordinate several citizen science initiatives focused on monitoring river water quality and riverfly populations. 

The Riverfly project coordinators conducted a range of activities during the context analysis stage of their impact journey. By liaising with project coordinator, reviewing relevant material and previous projects (e.g. Lincolnshire Chalk Stream Project), identifying of key relevant stakeholders (e.g. Natural England) and researching existing relevant infrastructure, programmes, regulations and methodologies the project could identify relevant contextual factors at both the national and local levels.  

The following impacts were identified during the context analysis: 

Domain 

Impact 

Science & Technology 

  • Further the understanding of riverfly populations 
  • Stimulate research to answer questions about issues affecting riverflies 

Society 

  • Raise public awareness of riverflies and their ecological importance  
  • Raise awareness regarding declining water quality 
  • Involve people in monitoring and recording riverflies 

Environment 

  • Protect and improve river water quality 
  • Conserve riverfly habitats 
  • Improve the conservation status of riverflies  
  • Guide restoration and management objectives. 

Governance 

  • Increase and promote knowledge about positive management techniques. 
  • Inform and influence the debate of current issues
  • Complement current monitoring efforts and feed into reporting for the WFD 

Economy 

  • Reduce costs through rapid response to pollution incidents
  • Promotion of good river management practices 

Useful Resources

TOOL: The Co-Evaluation Tool is open source and has been developed by the GROW project with community-led citizen science projects in mind. 

TOOL: The Community Level Indicators Tool is open source and has been developed by the MakingSense project, with community-led citizen science projects in mind. It is part of Citizen Sensing: A Toolkit, a collection of 25 methods and tools that can be used in citizen science projects. 

PAPER: The paper Impact assessment of citizen science: state of the art and guiding principles for a consolidated approach provides a detailed outline of the consolidated Citizen Science Impact Assessment framework, as well as insight into the development of the methodology. 

VIDEO: During the 2020 ECSA Conference recorded a workshop that focused on impact evaluation in citizen science, with a spotlight on the role of citizens in evaluation  

PAPER (FORTHCOMING): In a forthcoming paper, the current state of the art of co-evaluation in citizen science will be investigated, and the MICS Impact Journey approach will be outlined in detail 

TOOL: ACTION has developed an impact assessment framework and methodology to help citizen science projects understand what scientific, social, economic and political impact they have. 

TRAINING: Take part in a training course on this impact journey methodology by contacting Uta Wehn (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 824711.

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