Head: Florian Heigl and Daniel Dörler, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna
At the annual meeting of the Österreich forscht platform on 1 March 2017, the partners in attendance decided to set up a working group for quality criteria in citizen science projects. This was required because, thanks to new support programmes and the awareness level of citizen science that has now been achieved, there are more and more citizen science projects applying to be included on Österreich forscht. Up to now, the platform coordinators verified that projects were consistent with various definitions of citizen science before inclusion. The working group for quality criteria was established to create criteria for the future that are as objective, traceable and, above all, publicly visible as possible.
The working group is made up of project managers and partners in Österreich forscht and is led by Florian Heigl and Daniel Dörler. The goal was to create a catalogue of minimum criteria that all projects on Österreich forscht would have to meet in the future by the Austrian Citizen Science Conference in Salzburg at the start of February 2018. In addition, the criteria on Österreich forscht is also available for anyone to see. On the one hand, the developed criteria increase the quality of citizen science projects on the platform and, on the other hand, it provides citizens with the assurance that all of the projects listed on the Österreich forscht website are carried out in accordance with objective and traceable quality criteria.
Once these criteria were introduced, all projects that wanted to be listed on the platform had to meet them. There was a transition period for projects that were already listed on the platform and that were already announced at the Austrian Citizen Science Conference 2018. If these listed projects did not meet the criteria after the transition period, they were removed from the platform. The working group also set out how the verification process should be designed.
Several stages were needed to create the criteria. In the first stage, the working group for quality criteria wrote a first draft for the criteria. All Österreich forscht project managers and partners then took time to read, comment and give feedback on these criteria. This feedback was discussed by the working group and included in a second version. In the entire process of putting together the quality criteria catalogue, there was a total of three feedback stages for project managers and partners on the platform. In addition, all project managers and partners on the platform had the option to join the working group at any time and thus be able to more intensively shape the criteria.
You can find our article on the quality criteria here in the Nature scientific journal from 8 November 2017.
You can find our article on the quality criteria here in the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) scientific journal from 23 April 2019. This also includes a Letter to the Editor by Auerbach et al., as well as our reply by Heigl et al.