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Table 1 Textual data obtained through monthly monitoring by OPAL staff which inform operational indicators

From: To have your citizen science cake and eat it? Delivering research and outreach through Open Air Laboratories (OPAL)

  Outcome indicator & trade-off Operational indicator Key questions Example quotations providing evidence for operational indicators
A Needs met
Trade-off: Outreach gets in the way of research and research gets in the way of outreach?
Ensure outputs are fit for purpose Is the project designed and monitored appropriately to ensure outreach and research of an appropriate quality? *“Activities are best split into bite-sized chunks that can be done singly with less interested individuals and in multiples with the more interested.” *“resources …have to be concise, visually interesting, and different.” *“important not to ask the public to run before they can walk” *“focus on single or small set of bio-indicator species addressed the challenge of identification expertise, whilst proving less daunting and more empowering for the volunteer” *“citizen science projects must (1) provide sufficient training to ensure data are collected accurately, and (2) regularly monitor and screen incoming data to ensure continued accuracy.” *“Planning a programme of evaluation from the outset is very useful and ensures that it is ingrained in everybody’s thinking form the outset.” *“Qualitative and quantitative evaluation are both valuable”
B Trust
Trade-off: Build a reputation with partners or participants?
Develop strong collaborations Is there adequate buy-in from partners and is feedback maintained? *“Important to get appropriate buy-in from scientists who should/will be involved… especially in scientific disciplines where citizen science is new, novel or perceived as threatening.” *“the key to making links with existing community groups is finding and highlighting ways in which it is possible to work together”.*“The willingness of people to initially engage with the OPAL project appears to be enhanced when they are introduced to the project through face-to-face contact. Once initial engagement is made, many continue to request survey packs and information about events etc. in a more remote manner (telephone, email).” *“The surveys need to give instant results that people can relate to the quality of their local environment. The water survey was particularly good for this as the Pond Health score gave people a measure of their pond’s water quality”
C Scope
Trade-off: Jack of all trades, master of none?
Build a sufficiently diverse partnership Is there appropriate expertise within the programme? * “My main take away lessons from my time as a Community Scientist are that you need to share your passion for the natural world.” *“Community Scientists were involved with the development of all 7 national surveys, e.g. from testing the survey with local communities to providing feedback on the final survey materials…This resulted in the development of surveys which the general public could participate in/contribute successfully to, as well as generating meaningful scientific data for OPAL.” *“it is vital to obtain formal agreement from senior managers of partner organisations to provide the resources (especially time) to fulfil their obligations.” *“Initially it was difficult to build up relationships with schools or to have anything other than one-off interactions.” *“Academics are not usually involved in this scale of public outreach. It proved to be very rewarding on many fronts”
D Social capacity
Trade-off: Who is contributing and to what extent?
Target audience Which sectors of society are considered and is technology integrated appropriately? * “Genuinely hard to reach community groups require large commitments of time and energy to build up relationships to the level where outreach can be delivered successfully.” *“because once relocated to England, and especially for second generation and the younger generation, human activities are no longer seen as part of any ecosystem function.” *“Issues of inclusivity have to be faced professionally” *“Technical developments intended to be a major part of a public engagement project need to be carefully planned for, well in advance, to ensure that they can be taken up effectively by participants.” *“People have also increasingly moved towards using mobile and tablet devices since OPAL first started and as this tech is now part of their everyday lives, we need to respond to this demand.” *“Use of digital technology (e.g. social media) offers us a way to reach out to this audience in the spaces that they already frequent, at very little expense to us”
  1. These indicators inform the practical considerations when addressing trade-offs