project — research


Citizens took centre stage in ACTION, which investigated how citizen science can tackle issues of major pollution throughout Europe.

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Julia Wittmayer

Assistant Professor

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How can we make science more democratic, participatory, and inclusive? This question was at the core of ACTION (Participatory science toolkit against pollution), a three-year programme dedicated to transforming the way citizen science (CS) is conducted today. The project examined how CS can help tackle issues of pollution throughout Europe.

ACTION will transform the way we do citizen science (CS) today: from a mostly scientist-led process to a more participatory, inclusive, citizen-led one, which acknowledges the diversity of the CS landscape and of the challenges CS teams have to meet as their project evolves.

We partnered with 5 European CS initiatives tackling major forms of pollution, which pose substantial threats to human health and to the environment, and contributing to Sustainable Development Goals. These pilots were be the starting point for the citizen science accelerator, which was expanded through an open call. By considering the needs of multiple stakeholders throughout the life-cycle of CS, we created methodologies, tools and guidelines to truly democratize the scientific process, allowing anyone to design and realise a CS project from the early stages of ideation to validating and publishing the results.


EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovations Actions (RIA) programme

Research partners
University of Southampton (UK), Cefriel Società Consortile a Responsabilità Limitata (Italy), De Vlinderstichting (Netherlands), Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (Germany), NILU – Norsk institutt for luftforskning (Norway), SINTEF (Norway), T6 Ecosystems (Italy), Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain)

Key Outcomes

Our research will account for the multitude of manifestations of CS, addressing everything from small-scale, localised social issues to international research agendas. All ACTION’s outputs – infrastructure, the citizen science platform and toolkit – will be made openly available for online and offline use. Accessible formats and interfaces will be used, which appeal to audiences with diverse motivations and backgrounds and provide detailed examples, workflows, and advice tailored for a range of activities, going beyond data collection and analysis.

Our digital infrastructure will help citizen scientists use existing specialised platforms and publish results according to RRI principles, including open science. Our toolkit will tackle common difficulties around methodological choices, quality, incentives, community building and sustainability.

In addition, the 35 pilots hosted by the accelerator will result in case studies that will demonstrate the impacts of CS at social, economic, environmental and policy level.