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Citizen Science Toolkit

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This section explores the wide-ranging impact citizen science projects can have on a global scale, encompassing social, cultural, economic and political aspects. It also examines the impact of these projects on the participants involved and highlights the responsibility of the researchers involved. Our researchers explore the different ways in which they assess the influence of their projects and the potential for further collaboration with project stakeholders. The section also addresses the recognition of citizen participation within these projects, highlighting how their contributions can be acknowledged and how the potential for them to benefit from the project’s results.

Antje Wilton, Freie Universität Berlin

Francesca Sabatini, Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna

Ruxandra-Iulia Stoica, University of Edinburgh

Eljas Oksanen, Helsingin yliopisto/ Helsingfors universitet

Kinga Anna Gajda, Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie

Hanne Vrebos, KU Leuven

Alicia Castillo Mena, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Fabrice Langrognet, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne


Citizen science projects usually aim to have a tangible impact on society. They serve to make the research more relevant to certain societal challenges and empower the public to become active contributors to potential changes. These initiatives not only bridge the gap between research and the public, but also have the potential to reshape the perspectives within the discipline itself. In doing so, they contribute to the democratization of knowledge.

" The citizens who participated in the exhibition let us know that they felt acknowledged and moved by taking part in this initiative. Nowadays, the school curricula, the entertainment industry, the general discourse still does not make a lot of room for social history. People don't really know that history is also history from below, made by regular workers and working families and stay-at-home mothers. So one impact of the project was to change their perspective on their own history, and history in general. "

Fabrice Langrognet, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Citizen science projects have the potential to spark a ripple effect, generating a broader movement and inspiring the emergence of new kind of initiatives. It's not uncommon for individuals who have participated in citizen science projects to carry forward their newfound enthusiasm and commitment in various other forms and avenues. Citizen science initiatives frequently act as catalysts, stimulating self-organisation and mobilisation within communities, thereby nurturing a profound sense of agency among both individuals and groups. One of the examples is when a community, emboldened by their involvement in a project, feels empowered to actively engage in dialogues and negotiations with local authorities and other relevant stakeholders.

It can be therefore recommended to think through the sustainability of the project’s results, ensuring that they can thrive independently without a continuous researcher’s intervention. The underlying principle is to equip communities with the essential resources and knowledge, not merely as recipients, but as active participants in the scientific process. By imparting scientific methodologies, these communities can acquire the capacity to adapt these methods for their future self-organised initiatives, thereby fostering a sense of autonomy, and resilience within the community. Empowering participants is a pivotal aspect of citizen science and can be achieved through acknowledging and highlighting their contributions. A best practice in this context involves crediting them as co-authors in project materials.

" One of the missions that my team adopts to try to make a sustainable long-term project independent of the researchers. Why? Because we are scientists, our idea is not to reproduce the same action more times, or the same question that we solve, so that the initiative or products are finished in the first step. It is more interesting that the local community use these ideas, use the methodologies, use the project to reproduce and replicate. "

Alicia Castillo Mena, Universidad Complutense de Madrid