My colleagues and I spend our days asking questions about the impact of citizen science and turning answers into more questions. They are usually on the order of “What is the change/difference in impact when using citizen science to solve a problem with respect to using other approaches?” or “What is the effect of greenwashing in global impact when a local citizen-science initiative teams up with a corporation causing pollution elsewhere?” Which is how we’ve come to create MICS Labs, where we unleash citizen-science researchers Stephen “Parky” Parkinson, Sasha Woods and James Sprinks, with support from graphic designers, beta testers, number crunchers and assorted obsessives, to explore everything we never knew we needed to know about impact assessment.
We argue that as we gain access to ever more complex information, it becomes harder and harder to find the meaning of it. MICS Labs showcases what we are learning about impact from the initial interaction with several projects. We are sharing this with you in advance of the launch of the full MICS platform, later this year. We use data in new ways here; those data that are not often seen as the most exciting thing in the world. For many of us, the word “data” conjures up spreadsheets, scientific papers and debates about privacy. For MICS Labs, “data” means any sort of project information that can be represented quantitatively and analysed by a computer: the EU-Citizen.Science characterisation of citizen science, but also the MoRRI metrics, the indicators used by Defra, and the measures of success that can influence the human feeling of impact.
Luigi Ceccaroni, scientific coordinator