Living Labs and Citizen Science

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Keywords: citizen science, living labs, reciprocity, impact
“Citizen science is a growing area of interest for researchers and practitioners who have an interest in both community-led research and the upskilling and development of, often, marginalised members of society. However, for citizen science to work and be managed in a reciprocal and mutually beneficial way it is important that key principles of respect participants, ensuring that appropriate methods and delivery are used, ensuring access to information and resources to all participants and giving back via accreditation or award are followed. This study uses the MiFriendly Cities programme as a case study to explore the benefits and costs of adhering, or failing to adhere, to these principles.
The MiFriendly Cities programme was a 3 year initiative in the UK which aimed at developing innovative, community-led and sustainable approaches to enhancing the contribution of refugees and migrants across the region. This was funded in October 2017 by the European Union’s Urban Innovation Fund and a major work package around raising local aspirations, skills and knowledge was centred around the delivery of a comprehensive Citizen Social Science programme which trained 79 local citizen scientists from a diverse range of backgrounds. All of these then planned and/or conducted their own independent local research.
Throughout the programme, an independent evaluation team worked with all partners using a mixed methods approach and another parallel process that involved local community members who had participated in citizen social science training to produce findings for the main report as well as a separate appendix which focussed on the impact on participants. This enabled an analysis to take place from the perspective of practitioners and the programme funder, as well as those who participated in it and served as a good, and unique, check on the reciprocal nature of the impact of the citizen social science course.
The evaluation found multiple benefits to delivering citizen social science as a part of a wider social impact programme, including benefits such as widening participation, voice and economic engagement. These are all comprehensively mapped through the MiFriendly Cities logic models. Additional unplanned externalities were also documented around improved social cohesion and self-confidence, as well as practical outcomes with regards to delivery methods and widening engagement. For instance, that courses were run online allowed for the greater participation of those with caring responsibilities and those with very limited budgets. Finally, it was found that the stage in the programme life at which citizen social science training is rolled out has a significant impact on the outcomes of the intervention.
This innovation presentation is pertinent to practitioners and members of the public with an interest in delivering citizen science programmes because it allows for the learning and dissemination of good practice, as well as what did not work, and is presented from the perspectives of the programme itself and, crucially, the participants. This highlights the importance of reciprocity in outcomes and can be used to guide and inform other similar pieces of work in the future.”
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
EventOpenLivingLab Days Conference 2022 - Turin, Italy
Duration: 20 Sept 202222 Sept 2022


ConferenceOpenLivingLab Days Conference 2022


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