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Authors: Reidun Norvoll

Handbook of Youth Social Citizen Science (Borgström, D., Canto-Farachala, P., Hagen, A. L., Norvoll, R., Rådmark, L. & Lorenzen, S.B. (Eds.). (2024). Handbook of Youth Citizen Social Science. Working with Young People and the Local Community for Social Change. Zenodo.

Managing Collaborative Relationships

Co-creative or participatory citizen social science has many similarities with traditional ethnography where researchers can live in the community they study for a long time (Hammersley & Atkinson, 2019). In YouCount, many cases have for example worked with the youths and local stakeholders over a period of 1,5- 2 years, some even longer. The nature of collaborative citizen social science increases the need for awareness of the relational dimensions and to finish or continue these relationships in a good way for the benefits of the youths and future collaboration. A first step is that all participants need to bear in mind that a project is time bound and will end at some point (Byantropologene& OSIRIS, 2023). This means that it is essential to integrate the process of leaving from the start of the project. It should be clear that participation is voluntary, and every participant is free to leave the project at any time. This information will help manage expectations and demands from both sides. Still, as described in other chapters, keeping, and maintaining relationships are crucial for long-lasting science and society collaboration. It will therefore be important to consider what can benefit the collaborative relationships over a longer period than just one project. A short project perspective therefore needs to be balanced with a longer outlook. It may also be helpful to facilitate a gradual closing process where both the researchers and participating youths get some time to be prepared for the ending of the project. For example, in YouCount, many case partners organised for some continuous contact or closing events in the last part of the project and after its end.

Mutual Acknowledgements

Acknowledging participants for their contributions is an essential part of citizen science.There are many ways to acknowledge. The young citizen scientists and local stakeholders can for example join as co-authors or co presenters or be acknowledged in a visible way in scientific papers or presentations by the researchers. It is also possible to use certificates, diplomas, or to provide a written or oral reference, and more. Such acknowledgements are especially important in inclusive youth citizen social science, and in projects involving young people with disadvantages, because the participation can be used to increase social capital. The youths may for example use the certificate or reference to build their CV’s or increase their social network when applying for jobs or education. If the CV is “empty” (for example, because you are a newly arrived refugee), working in a research project as a young citizen scientist may serve as a gateopener to the job market. In the YouCount project, we also experienced that some of the young people built their local social network and got job-offer because of their participation in the project ( Saumer et al., 2023 and D.4.4: Lorenz et al., 2023). However, in collaborative projects, acknowledgement is not a one-way process but may also have a mutual side. The young citizen scientists and stakeholders might also like to express gratitude or acknowledgement to the project and its researchers. It is therefore important to open spaces for this mutual appreciation when this occurs. Farewell goes both ways.


Mutual Learning Approach to Evaluation

As described in the Evaluation chapter, evaluation of the project and its outcomes is a key aspect of citizen science. Traditional citizen science has often focused on learning outcomes for the citizen scientists. In youth citizen social science, we are also looking for broader social and political outcomes for the individual youth and community (Lorenz et al., 2023). Further, as illustrated by the kite in the house of citizen social science, evaluation can take shape as a mutual learning approach where the participants consider the learning done during the project and summaries the main takeaways (Gold et al., 2023). Discussing the lessons learned is a good way to end a project. It can also be used to inform oth ers who are interested in conducting similar projects. Evaluation can thereby contribute to capacity building in citizen social science.


Secure Sustainability and Impact

Securing sustainability is part of supporting long-term impact and the exploitation of the project (Gold et al., 2023; Lorenz et al., 2023). As elaborated later, impact and sustainability work can be done in several ways. One way is to identify the targeted stakeholders that are important for impact and sustainability of the project and work closely with them. Usually, it is easier to create impact when you are working with a larger group of identified stakeholders (Reiersen, 2022). Another way is to consider if the project can continue or escalate in the future through new research and additional funding. A dissemination-, exploitation,- and communication plan (DEC plan) describing how the results can be shared with the scientific and citizen science community as well as the broader public may also support thiswork (Canto-Farachala et al., 2021).

Further, the young citizen scientists and local stakeholders can be involved in the of reflections about the research and innovation process to inform or improve future initiatives. It is also possible to discuss with citizen scientists and stakeholders how the results can be translated into a knowledge platform for future policymaking, actions or policy (Gold et al., 2023). For example, in the YouCount project the cases used local living labs, national workshops and a final conference as tools to co-promote sustainability and impact. In addition, some of the closing meetings were focusing on creating a long-term impact of the project and discussing how the project work could be taken further locally or on a European level.


Taking Care of the Research Team and Participants

While young people in risk of social exclusion can be resourceful and fully capable of participating in citizen social science, some may also be in a more exposed or dependent situation due to poverty, lack of formal citizenship, disabilities and more. Such factors may increase vulnerability in the closing part of the project when the project resources end and researchers leave. It is therefore important to mitigate feelings of being “abandoned” and to consider if the active participation and benefits can be continued in some ways on a local level.

It may also be hard to leave for the researchers. The relationships are often rewarding, and it may be hard to break connections. Some may find it hard to leave if you have the sense of “unfinished business”, there is still so much you would like to do and achieve but the time is out (Thomas, 2023). Temporary employed researchers may also worry about what happens after their engagement period has ended. The project leader should therefore also consider how to support the researchers and students during the closing part of the project . A respectful writing up from the project and how you frame the participants (e.g., youths) are also important. All personal data needs to be processed in a proper way and deleted in due time according to ethics approvals.



Thomas, G.M (2023) Unfinished business: a reflection on leaving the field. In: Smith. R.J & Sara SA. Delamont (eds). Leaving the field. Methodological insights from ethnographic exits. Chapter 4: pp.74-85. Manchester: Manchester University Press,. doi: 10.7765/9781526157669

Bracken-Roche, D., Bell, E., Macdonald, M. E., & Racine, E. (2017). The concept of ‘vulnerability’ in research ethics: an in-depth analysis of policies and guidelines. Health Res Policy Syst, 15(1), 8-8.

Resnik, D. B., Elliott, K. C., & Miller, A. K. (2015). A framework for addressing ethical issues in citizen science. Environmental Science & Policy, 54, 475-481.

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