Project
impact

Development of new knowledge and innovations by citizen scientists.

In the short term, the project will engage citizens in the development of new knowledge and innovations in the context of nature-based solutions. Open, participatory practices provide enormous potential to facilitate engagement of local communities in Nature Based Solutions (NBS) projects while also increasing capacity for standardised monitoring and scientific research to increase the evidence base for developing effective NBSs.


Availability of evaluation data concerning the societal, democratic and economic costs and benefits of citizen science

In the long term, the project will make efforts to evaluate the impacts of citizen-science on society, democracy, the economy, the science related to NBSs, (the science of) citizen-science, and the attitudes and behaviours of the participating citizen scientists, in the following specific areas:

  • Creating policies that support NBSs;
  • Provide funding for NBSs;
  • Devising effective plans for NBSs;
  • Gathering evidence and evaluate projects
  • Communicating the benefits
  • Improving the connection among citizens to environmental issues and scientific research

Measurement of impact

MICS will consider an extensive set of indicators to generate a framework that can be used as a reference in all kinds of citizen science. MICS recommendations on impact assessment will become the reference for other scientific endeavours in citizen-science research which want to include a wide array of societal actors.

Many policies taking into account citizen science can suffer from potential failures because of a lack of scientific evidence of its impact. This will change when the scientific community disposes of a validated reference model and toolbox.

MICS will enable researchers and policy makers to carry out and support open and inclusive projects, creating agents of change within the society, and therefore will facilitate a paradigmatic change in citizen-science research towards a more robust monitoring of its impact.

Objectives according to the Lisbon Treaty

The Lisbon Treaty states in its Article 11.1: “The institutions shall, by appropriate means, give citizens and representative associations the opportunity to make known and publicly exchange their views in all areas of Union action”.

Opening NBS research and providing citizens tools to participate will contribute to the compliance with Article 11.1, where “institutions” means the European institutions (Parliament, Council and Commission). MICS demonstrates this perfectly for nature-based solutions.

More efficient and effective citizen-science research

The set of methods, concepts and tools for citizen science produced by MICS will enable to carry out impact assessment with a robustness which is currently not available.

Benefit for citizen science

Citizen science will benefit from a demonstrated extension to challenges in impact assessment; and will be developed in countries where it has yet to be taken into account (e.g., Hungary, Romania).

Better use of European taxpayers’ money

Clearly assessing citizen-science impact in relation to the expectations and desires of the target populations could prove to be a crucial source of more legitimate and improved policies, which means a better-targeted use of taxpayers’ money. The bias of interests of lobbyists is reduced; policies grounded on independent, legitimate impact-assessment are possible.

Output, outcome and impact

Output

  • It is what is directly produced or supplied by an activity or intervention, for example, the observations collected.
  • It consists of tangible data, products or services produced as a result of the activities or interventions (and can be subject to external factors). ​  

Outcome

  • It is the immediate change in a situation, including behavioural changes that result from the outputs. It can be intended and unintended, positive and negative. For example, an unintended outcome of a citizen-science project carried out in collaboration with an oil company can be greenwashing.
  • It has a clear link with the intervention and is influenced by external factors as well. ​  

Impact

  • It broadly defines the (widespread) changes over a longer period that result from an accumulation of outcomes and affect the wider economy and society, for example, a change in legislation. ​ 
  • It is strongly influenced by external factors. ​ 


Principles of citizen science

  1. Citizen science projects actively involve citizens in a scientific endeavour that generates new knowledge or understanding. Citizens may act as contributors, collaborators, or as project leader and have a meaningful role in the project.
  2. Citizen science projects have a genuine science outcome. For example, answering a research question, informing conservation action, or facilitating policy decisions.
  3. Citizen science provides benefits to both science and society. Benefits may include learning opportunities, personal enjoyment, social benefits, the publication of research outputs, contributing to scientific evidence that can influence policy on many scales (locally, nationally, and internationally), and connecting the wider community with science.
  4. Citizen scientists may participate in various stages of the scientific process. This may include developing research questions, designing methods, gathering and analysing data, and communicating results.
  5. Citizen scientists receive feedback from the project. For example, how their data are being used and the research, policy or societal outcomes.
  6. Citizen science, as with all forms of scientific inquiry, has limitations and biases that should be considered and controlled for. However, unlike traditional research approaches, citizen science provides greater opportunity for public engagement and participation, increasing accessibility of science in society.
  7. Where possible and suitable, project data and meta-data from citizen science projects are made publicly available and results are published in an open-access format. Data sharing may occur during or after the project.
  8. Citizen scientists are suitably acknowledged by projects. This may include acknowledgement in project communications, result reporting and publications.
  9. Citizen science programs offer a range of benefits and outcomes which should be acknowledged and considered in project evaluation. Communication and evaluation of projects could include scientific outputs, data quality, participant experience and learning, knowledge sharing, social benefits, capacity building, new ways of science engagement, enhanced stakeholder dialogue, and wider societal or policy impact.
  10. The leaders of citizen science projects take into consideration the legal and ethical considerations of the project. These considerations include copyright, intellectual property, data sharing agreements, confidentiality, attribution, participant safety and wellbeing, traditional owner consultation, and the environmental impact of any activities.

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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MICS science is open science. All the information on this website and all the deliverables of the project are public. They can be freely accessed and reused for any purpose and without restrictions.