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What better time to head to a citizen science conference, than in Citizen Science Month? 

On April 19th, our friends and colleagues from The Zentrum for Soziale Innovation (ZSI -Centre for Social Innovation), traveled to the beautiful city of Linz, for this year’s Austrian Citizen Science conference. This was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with some of our citizen science colleagues and learn more about the fantastic work they are doing in the field!   

The theme for this year’s conference was “try – unite – take responsibility”, and this motto is something that all the Step Change team try to work by in all the work they are doing. This is especially true in regards to the important work being done by the team at ZSI, who are responsible for the Mutual Learning and knowledge exchanges being done within Step Change and beyond!

 So our very own Dr. ilse Marschalek used this opportunity to share some of the lessons we have learned at Step Change and demonstrate the importance of sharing our citizen science experiences with others, in a presentation on the first day of the conference.

Throughout the Step Change Project, ZSI has been working very closely with our partners who are conducting citizen science initiatives in the fields of Health, Energy, and the Environment, and through interviews and surveys have determined some of the areas they have experienced difficulties.

From this feedback, ZSI organised a series of workshops, where we could all come together and share our problems, and also receive some advice from experts in these areas from other citizen science and open science practitioners. So far they have organised sessions focusing on; the recruitment of Citizen Scientists, ethical considerations in citizen science projects, and aspects of data collection. The outcomes and solutions shared during these conversations were then made available to everyone in a collection of output documents. 

It was the thoughts of ilse and the team at ZSI, that if our partners were struggling with these aspects of putting citizen science into practice, then perhaps other projects were experiencing similar roadblocks. And from the responses and questions received from some of the around 100 audience members of ilse’s presentation, this did seem to be the case! With participants asking ilse afterward about how to target specific groups of people when recruiting citizen scientists

This is why it is so important to create bridges within the citizen science community, so we do not suffer in silence. Because by sharing our experiences, we can help each other avoid the same obstacles, and learn from our wide wealth of experience. Some of us may stumble, so others may run!

A huge thank you to ilse and the whole team at ZSI, for helping us take these positive steps together, and if you would like to learn from our Step Change experiences, check out the links below, or head over to the resources page of our website to read our mutual learn output papers of recruitment, ethics, and data collection. With further updates coming soon!