What is the ACTION toolkit?

The ACTION toolkit is the ultimate resource collection for everyone interested in using citizen science against pollution. Created by the ACTION consortium, with a range of expertise in pollution, citizen science, participatory design, social innovation, socio-economic studies, open science, social computing, open data and software development, it combines all the expertise the ACTION team has to offer. Co-designed with the ACTION pilots, it is designed to suit the requirements of citizen science projects, and address the practical problems that they face.
Following the participatory science lifecycle (image below), the toolkit offers guidance and resources for a wide range of citizen science characteristics: online and offline activities, various and evolving goals and scopes, as well as different stages of project development, from early ideas, to initiatives that have resulted in scientific publications and other forms of impacts. It helps citizen scientists plan, create, improve, and maximize the impact of their projects, and make them as inclusive and engaging as possible.
The toolkit will become available in autumn 2020; content will be added continuously until the end of the ACTION project in January 2022.

Who is the toolkit for?

The toolkit is meant for citizen scientists, and everyone who wishes to apply citizen science methods. This can be citizen scientists themselves, or those aspiring to become citizen scientists by starting their own projects; researchers wishing to engage with citizens in their work; civil servants who are interacting with citizens and citizen scientists; or policy-makers who are working on policy where citizen science insights are relevant.

How to use the toolkit?

The toolkit will follow the participatory science lifecycle. For each step in this cycle, it will offer an introductory overview, and a selection of tools, guidelines and recommendations, activities and case studies.

Participatory Science Lifecycle

The objective of the first stage, problem framing, is to define and gather background information on the problem at hand, as well as engage relevant stakeholders. This will be most relevant for citizen scientists, or those looking to start a citizen science project, such as civil servants or scientists looking for ways to engage citizens. This stage will be supported with documents and activities to outline the best way to define and narrow down the topic, recommendations for background research, and tools for engagement, such as fora or ideas platforms.

In the second stage, research implementation, the citizen science experiment is planned and implemented. This encompasses multiple substages, which will be supported by a variety of tools and resources. Through all substages, we will offer guidance on the best ways to engage citizens.

  • During the research design stage, projects create their research question, define their research design, and develop appropriate data gathering instruments. We will provide guidelines for task design, recommendations for quality assurance, as well as data gathering instruments. 
  • In the data acquisition and data analysis stages, projects acquire, curate, process, analyse and interpret their data. We will offer guidelines and recommendations, as well as tools to support these activities, such as CONEY, which allows users to design, implement, analyse and visualise the results of conversational surveys. 
  • To help projects to share and communicate results, we will offer a live dashboard and publishing portal, as well as data visualisation tools. We will create a methodology explaining best practices to share and publish results, and enable projects to pack all the material generated in the project as a shareable research object. 
  • To support the evaluation of projects and help them measure success, we develop an impact-self-assessment framework, and a canvas that projects can use and adapt to their need, to collect evidence for their success.

In the third stage, conclusion and sustainability, projects find and use routes for policy agenda setting, and achieve sustainability of their community and data, as well as finances. We will support these steps with guidelines, recommendations and webinars, as well as tools to develop data management plans, and an open data portal to share results.

In the last stage, policy impact, projects use their work to help formulate policies, influence decision-making, and the implementation of policies. We will support this with guidelines and recommendations, as well as practical advice.

What is the citizen science toolkit?

The citizen science toolkit includes methodologies, methods, tools, services and other resources that respond to a wide range of citizen science characteristics: online and offline activities, various and evolving goals and scopes, as well as different stages of development, from early ideas, to initiatives that have resulted in scientific publications and other forms of impacts.

What does the toolkit offer?

In the toolkit, you will find a variety of resources for task design, quality assurance and validation, community engagement, incentives, and impact, addressing the challenges around projects’ diversity and evolution.

The toolkit will support the lifecycle of the research process which is :

  • Hypothesis generation
  • Experiment design
  • Data acquisition & curation
  • Data processing (hypothesis validation)
  • Share resources
  • Publish results
For each stage of the lifecycle, you will find methodologies, and tools to help you maximize and improve the results of you citizen science project.

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