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Citizen science networks

ECSA Working Group:
Citizen science networks

Since the early 2010s, several national networks and initiatives have been established to connect different citizen science projects in their respective countries, often across scientific disciplines. These platforms pursue several goals, such as: (1) displaying citizen science projects to an interested public; (2) connecting citizen science actors to foster innovation and learning; and (3) lobbying for citizen science in their respective contexts.

However, many of these initiatives face a number of challenges. These include, but are not limited to: funding; organization of workloads (e.g. organizational structure, IPR); and framing of citizen science (e.g. transparent criteria on which projects are listed on online platforms, and which are not).

In the Citizen Science Networks working group, representatives from established and emerging citizen science networks are collaborating to tackle some of these challenges. The group’s first goal is to frame transparent criteria that help networks to decide, in a transparent and impartial way, if a project should be listed as citizen science on online platforms or not. This will facilitate the exchange of projects between networks and make projects more comparable.


Florian Heigl, co-chair

Working group

  • Anders Tøttrup
  • Annelies Duerincky
  • Cristina Luís
  • Darlene Cavalier
  • Gaia Agnello
  • Gitte Kragh
  • Grant Miller
  • Jakub Trojan
  • Liesbeth Gijsel
  • Lotta Tomasson
  • Marika Cieslinski
  • Patricia Tiago
  • Susanne Hecker
  • Susanne Tönsmann
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Activity plan

Current stage of the process

At the beginning, the process on how to find such criteria and to be as open as possible was discussed in several online meetings. The common goal of the working group is to have measurable and easy to understand criteria. Project leaders from citizen science projects as well as the general public of the countries represented in the working group will be consulted in several steps of the process, if they are not part of the working group already. To facilitate this involvement, the necessary documents will be translated into the respective languages to avoid exclusion due to language barriers.

In a first step the members of the working group decided to start a literature research on characteristics and criteria for citizen science and to extract criteria, characteristics, definitions and/or typologies from these documents. This resulted in a wide range of concepts and ideas of citizen science.

In 2020 the collected characteristics/criteria/definitions/typologies from literature were grouped and refined in a transparent process. An important part of the work was to assure a process documentation that allows people to see which of the collected characteristics/criteria/definitions/typologies form the basis of each single criterion in the final criteria catalogue. The working group formulated a first draft of the criteria, was presented at ECSA 2020 in September to collect further feedback. The criteria were revised and were openly available and ready for commenting via a Padlet on EU-Citizen.Science from December 2020 until November 2021.

In 2021 more feedback from researchers and practitioners was collected through personal contacts by the working group members in their respective countries and in a workshop at CitSciVirtual 2021. All this feedback was used to revise the criteria and formulate accompanying FAQs, guidelines and a preamble to give context to the criteria. The working group also made first preparations to collect feedback from citizen scientists in an open consultation via various channels and with different formats (e.g. interviews, blogs).

In 2022 the working group will start the open consultation process and revise the criteria, the preamble, the FAQs and guidelines according to the feedback from the citizen scientists. The aim is to present the final version of the criteria at ECSA 2022.

Past achievements

  • The working group held several online meetings to discuss possible criteria and how to be as open as possible in this process.
  • Group members conducted a literature review on characteristics and criteria for citizen science, and extracted criteria, characteristics, definitions and/or typologies from these documents
  • Cocreation of first draft of criteria
  • Organization of workshops at international conferences (e.g. ECSA 2020, CitSciVirtual 2021)
  • Collection of feedback from international and national citizen science project coordinators and researchers on citizen science

How to get involved

Interested in joining this working group? Please write to the chairs at: office [AT]