Co-Creating and Implementing Quality Criteria for Citizen Science

Citizen Science: Theory and Practice


Citizen science is increasingly recognized as a valid research methodology by the research community and policy makers alike. In our experience, however, citizen science is sometimes used as a catchall term for activities that involve scientific and democratic innovation, resource efficiency in scientific processes, outreach, and education. We fear that this use of the term citizen science risks undermining the recognition of citizen science in academia as well as among citizen scientists and the general public in the longer term. Informed by these concerns, we report on a transdisciplinary attempt to establish quality criteria to decide in a transparent manner which citizen science projects are listed on Österreich forscht, an Austrian citizen science platform that is based on an established network of citizen scientists, academic researchers, funding institutions, and research institutions. We present 20 quality criteria and their relationship to existing literature, and describe the process by which they were formulated over a one-year period: a series of transdisciplinary exchanges, concerning what shape citizen science should take in the particular context of Austria, and the potential implications of certain quality criteria for individual disciplines and practitioners. While we realize that any demarcation process is bound to produce exclusionary effects, we argue that the bottom-up, transdisciplinary nature of our working group was a necessary step for Österreich forscht to strengthen its identity and purpose.

Heigl, F., Kieslinger, B., Paul, K. T., Uhlik, J., Frigerio, D., & Dörler, D. (2020). Co-Creating and Implementing Quality Criteria for Citizen Science. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 5(1).