Bringing together Research and Practice – the ACTION Accelerator
How can we help citizen science projects become more participatory, rigorous and inclusive? The ACTION Accelerator replies to this challenge with an intensive support programme, providing citizen science projects access to expertise and training in engagement, data science, inclusion and participation. All projects are supported by a mentor. In addition they become part of a network of practice in participatory research, are provided with bespoke consultancy and participate in peer-to-peer learning.
The ACTION Accelerator methodology has been developed in response to working closely with ACTION’s citizen science projects, both those recruited through an open call, and with case study projects who have been with us from the beginning. We have refined and promoted the adoption of best practice in participatory research.
With our focus on projects related to pollution, the ACTION Accelerator has been researching how best to support projects addressing some of the most pressing challenges of Citizen Science today.
In October 2020 four ACTION pilots funded by the 1st Open Call successfully passed the internal final review and graduated, after having participated in the Accelerator programme.
How it works
Citizen science projects apply for participating in the six-month Accelerator period. It includes the following steps.
Apply to be part of the Accelerator
The ACTION project will run two Open Calls in total, offering up to 10 places to join the Accelerator programme. Each successful pilot project receives intensive and bespoke support from the consortium plus €20,000 over a period of 6 months. More details on the Open Call 2020.
Review and Interview
Applications are reviewed. The review panels will shortlist applications for a remote interview. For Round 2 of the Open Call, we anticipate interviews to be held between 30th November and 4th December 2020. More details
First Steps with ACTION Accelerator
Mentors will be assigned to incoming projects based on the information supplied in the projects’ applications.
During the negotiations phase, the projects begin to elaborate their project plan and work closely with their mentor to assess their needs and how ACTION can support them over the 6 month period.
Intensive training and Networking
During the negotiations phase, the Accelerator holds a Kick-off Workshop. In Round 2, this will be held online due to the COVID pandemic. The workshop programme delivers intensive training from experts in relevant areas, and is tailored to the needs of the incoming projects, and is also a great opportunity to meet the other citizen science projects working with ACTION. The Workshop Report from Round 1 gives more information on the first Kick-Off Meeting, which was held at FVB-IGB in Berlin, Germany, in February 2020.
Developed for each Pilot
Once a concrete plan has been made, the pilots join the ACTION Accelerator for 6 months and are provided with bespoke support from the ACTION consortium, mediated by their mentor, at all stages of the projects’ development. The support includes, for example, consulting on community data management, evaluation and sustainability.
Online training and sharing
The Accelerator runs a webinar programme developed in response to the projects’ needs, which address common challenges for citizen science projects, such as recruitment and maintenance of a community, data visualisation and stakeholder engagement. The webinars also give an opportunity for projects to share their experiences as part of the ACTION citizen science network.
Keeping in touch
Pilot projects have regular communication with their mentors, approximately once a month, usually remotely, in which they discuss the project’s progress, future plans and interaction with the ACTION consortium.
Diversity and Inclusion Calls
Regular Diversity and Inclusion calls allow the projects to share experiences related to including more diverse stakeholders, managing communities and making projects accessible.
Getting feedback and plan the future
In the Final Review, project leads present their work over the Accelerator period to a panel, chaired by their mentor. The successful completion of the Final Review is a requirement for graduating from the ACTION Accelerator.
ACTION DATA PORTAL and How to upload resources to a research repository
Data visualisation using Grafana
Over the course of the ACTION we will provide support to a total of 16 citizen science projects from around Europe. Ten projects are recruited through our Open Calls while another six have been with us from the start as Case Studies.
We work with projects to co-design tools to help overcome hurdles common to citizen science projects, such as data management, creation of surveys, EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion), impact assessment and community development. These co-designed tools go on to become part of the ACTION Toolkit, which will remain available to citizen science projects far and wide after the project ends.
Through the Accelerator programme, ACTION is developing a network for Citizen Science projects working on pollution-themes.
A key highlight is the Accelerator Kick-Off Meeting, at the start of the two Accelerator periods. This meeting, held in early 2020 and 2021, gives all ACTION Citizen Science projects the chance to meet, to introduce their projects, to co-design tools and to meet with external experts.
What ACTION Provides
Successful applicants receive €20,000 for the six-month Accelerator period, along with help from the ACTION team. ACTION support is tailored to the needs of each citizen science project, and includes:
- Intensive training at the start of the accelerator on: project design, citizen engagement, data management and preservation, inclusion;
- Online mentoring during the pilot and beyond;
- Tools and infrastructure to host projects and data according to state of the art IT practices;
- Tools and methods to facilitate participatory data collection and analysis;
- Bespoke consultancy on a diverse set of citizen science challenges, including: data quality, data preservation, GDPR, research ethics, motivating participation, citizen empowerment, EDI (equality, diversity, inclusion), public engagement, and impact;
- Promotion via news on the ACTION website and on social media, as well as presentation opportunities at the ACTION conference and other related events;
- Peer learning and networking, facilitated through workshops and online tools.
Take a look at the video of our webinar on “How to upload resources to a research repository – Zenodo”, and its related slides, by Esteban González Guardia.