How to start a project


Planning and designing citizen science projects in 5 steps

An online handbook is currently in the works, aimed at providing a comprehensive guide for the five fundamental stages involved in initiating, designing, and executing citizen science projects. This manual will offer a detailed array of tips and insights for each phase, aiding in the effective planning, creation, and implementation of these projects. Here’s a quick glimpse into what the handbook will cover.

Step 1: Identify the research problem, research method and key stakeholders.

A precise and detailed definition of the research question is crucial for the success of the research. Once we have defined the research problem and determined the research method, we need to consider who we will need in our team to successfully carry out our research. We should also think about other resources needed, such as funders or support in the media.

• Let’s work out in detail the research problem we want to solve. Consider how the solution to the problem would contribute to the development of the community and the environment in which we live.
• Let’s see if anyone has solved the problem before us.
• Let’s see if the concept of citizen science can be applied to our research.
• Let’s set the basic hypothesis of our research.
• Let’s explore possible research methods and choose the most appropriate ones.
• We define in advance how the data will be generated (collected and submitted).
• Identify the key stakeholders of the research.
• We decide how to recruit and communicate with active research participants.
• Let’s sign up to a library that can be used to access additional information.

Step 2: Let’s design our research plan.

Divide the research design into practical, achievable steps, aligning them with the specific goals of the research and the resources currently at our disposal or those we’ll need to acquire for the study. This phase should also involve careful planning for the execution of each stage of the research process.

• Let us describe the objectives of the research in more detail.
• Let’s take a look at the plans for similar citizen surveys that are already active or have been completed.
• Let’s record the necessary and existing resources to carry out the research.
• Let’s work out a financial plan for the research.
• Let’s plan the work processes and the conduct of the research.
• Let’s plan the communication between the participants in the survey.
• Let’s plan the promotion of our project.
• Last steps before the start of the survey.

Step 3: Build a community of citizen researchers for our research.

Let’s focus on identifying and recruiting participants for our project, persuading them of its value and inviting them to join. Following this, we’ll concentrate on developing a community-oriented aspect of our project. Adopting a community-based approach enhances awareness and commitment to the fundamental principles of integrity in scientific research. Additionally, it encourages a sense of shared motivation among participants through the exchange of information and diverse perspectives on the research’s significance.

• Recruit research participants.
• Let’s get to know the participants.
• Let’s build community.

Step 4: Create and handle research data responsibly.

This stage involves a more detailed outlining of the data generation process, encompassing aspects such as collection, submission, and other creation methods. Throughout the various stages of data management, it’s crucial to maintain a keen focus on data quality, particularly when employing crowdsourcing techniques. The data compiled will be stored in a designated repository, with a strong emphasis on adhering to the principles of open access and the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) guidelines for data sharing.

• Let’s develop a plan for handling research data.
• Let’s create instructions for creating data.
• Let’s run a pilot data generation project.
• Let’s build a platform to temporarily archive the data generated.
• Verification of the data generated.
• Let’s analyse the data generated.
• Hypothesis validation.
• We share research data according to the principles of open science.

Step 5: Conclude our research: analyse, promote and share the results.

In the research planning phase, consideration is given to handling the formal completion of the study. This includes strategizing for publications, ensuring the long-term storage and potential re-use of research data, and promoting the findings. Additionally, it’s important to organize a meeting for the participants, where awards or recognitions can be distributed. Preparing public presentations, engaging with the media, and organizing a press conference are also key steps in this process.

• Let’s assess the achievement of the objectives of our Citizens’ Survey.
• Verification of the data generated.
• Let’s analyse the reasons for the motivation of superparticipants.
• Let’s organise a social gathering at the end of the survey.
We distribute certificates of participation and offer rewards.
• Let’s promote the results of the research.
• We share the results of our research in the form of publications.
• Entering research results in bibliographic databases.
• Let’s keep our survey alive after it’s finished.

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