There’s a lot of buzz around citizen science for sustainability. Engaging scores of people who collect and share data to contribute to scientific projects is a popular method. But what’s the impact? That’s a question often ignored, or answered with assumptions and speculations. An IHE Delft-led paper that presents the first systematic review of how citizen science impact can be captured recently received an Honorable Mention Award from the journal Sustainability Science.
The paper, Impact assessment of citizen science: state of the art and guiding principles for a consolidated approach, combines a literature review with empirical insights from citizen science projects and offers guiding principles for a framework to assess citizen science impacts.
“Assessing citizen science impact is still rare, and when it’s done, a wide variety of approaches is used, which makes it hard to compare data and draw bigger conclusions,” said Uta Wehn, IHE Delft Associate Professor of Water Innovation Studies and lead author of the paper. “With our study, we aim to make assessments easier and more consistent, thereby enabling results from different projects to be compared.”
The selection committee for the Sustainability Science Best Paper Awards highlighted the framework’s potential in its motivation: ‘’The paper proposed an integrated assessment framework and guiding principles for citizen science for sustainability, which can be widely used in various fields and sites.’’
The paper was one of two selected for Honorable Mentions, with another paper winning an Outstanding Article award. The committee selected the winners among 124 eligible papers.
Other contributors to the paper include representatives of the Measuring Impact of Citizen Science (MICS) project and the project An Ecosystem of Citizen Observatories for Environmental Monitoring (WeObserve). The paper was co-authored by Uta Wehn, Mohammad Gharesifard, Luigi Ceccaroni, Hannah Joyce, Raquel Ajates, Sasha Woods, Ane Bilbao, Stephen Parkinson, Margaret Gold and Jonathan Wheatland.