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I want to measure the impacts of citizen science projects using the standardised approach on the MICS Platform

Why is it relevant?

The MICS project interviewed citizen science project coordinators to find out why they don’t measure the impact of their projects. One of the most common responses was that impact assessment is too complex and takes too much time. Limited funding, limited time, or a lack of expertise and experience among citizen-science project coordinators mean that where impact assessment is conducted it is often insufficient or poorly implemented. The MICS platform provides an easy-to-use tool as an entry into the world of impact assessment. The platform uses a set of questions with pre-defined answers which users can pick from, and provides links to helpful resources as well as recommendations to help increase the impact of the projects. 

The MICS platform also helps to deal with the current lack of consensus on impact assessment approaches for citizen science. A key issue with this lack of agreement is that it also leads to a lack of comparability of impact across initiatives and practices. Without a standardised, widely accepted approach to impact assessment, comparing the effect of citizen science initiatives is difficult or impossible. MICS has therefore advocated for, and developed, an accessible tool for measuring the impact of citizen-science projects. 

How can this be done?

Anyone can create a project page on the MICS platform and use the assessment tool there to evaluate a citizen science project; you just have to register for an account on the platform, or log in using social media. All the projects and their impact reports are accessible on the platform without having to log in. Logging in is needed only to add a new project. 

With the platform’s help, you can assess whether a project has had an impact on several domains: society, the environment, the economy, governance, and science and technology. The MICS platform can analyse a project at any stage of implementation and it can be used to inform ongoing activities to improve impact.  

The impact assessment process on the MICS platform includes over 200 questions, each with a pre-defined set of answers that you can choose from. These questions assess hundreds of indicators and are based on current impact assessment methods, other frameworks such as the ECSA characteristics of citizen science and indicators available in the MICS Impact Indicator Explorer. Each project’s answers are analysed by a series of artificial intelligence algorithms, which generate impact scores. The MICS platform also provides citizen science projects with specific recommendations on improving impact. 

Useful Resources

TOOL: The MICS Platform can be used to assess the impact of your citizen-science project, evaluate how this impact changes over time, produce a shareable impact summary of your project, and to view the impact of other projects.

WEBSITE: The How-To Guide for the MICS Platform is available online and as a PDF, and contains detailed instructions on signing in to the platform, creating a project, answering questions, and accessing a personalised impact report.

DOCUMENT: The MICS report on the MICS Platform details the process by which the platform was developed, including how the interface was designed, tested, and refined.

DOCUMENT: The MICS report 'Developing metrics and instruments to evaluate citizen science impacts on the environment and society' describes the MICS questions in detail, including the questions’ sources and how the questions were tested. 

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.

WEBSITE: The Co-Act project largely focuses on the social impact of citizen science initiatives for groups sharing a social concern, and has developed a toolkit allowing for evaluation of these projects