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Project deliverable Open Access

CoActD7.1: Impact Assessment Plan.

Schäfer, Teresa; Kieslinger, Barbara; Mayer, Katja; Schürz, Stefanie

DISCLAIMER: The information and views set out in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.


The main aim of the evaluation and impact assessment in CoAct is to bring evidence of the impact that the project’s citizen social science activities have on the involved actors, such as co-researchers, citizen scientists, knowledge coalition members, and professional researchers, as well as on their socio-cultural contexts.  

Additionally, the formative evaluation aims at the assessment of user-acceptance factors, such as ease of use and perceived usefulness, of the involvement activities, offered materials, developed prototypes, and the research process as a whole. This input will iteratively shape our interaction activities, the materials and the prototypes, trying to detect the non-conformances that may occur during the citizen social science co-research process as well as drivers for engagement and usage. 

In CoAct we follow a co-evaluation approach, which is a form of participatory evaluation that initiates the conversation on expectations, objectives, and impact already at the start of the project. Consequently, we have started the co-evaluation process with representatives from our three CoAct R&I Actions in Barcelona, Buenos Aires, and Vienna from the very beginning of the project. During the Kick-Off meeting expectations towards (co-)evaluation and anticipated challenges were discussed in separate working sessions with representatives from each of the three R&I actions; follow-up calls with the research teams served to elaborate road maps that link co-research activities to the evaluation and impact assessment. The result of this collaboration , that introduce expected outputs, intermediate and long-term outcomes on co-researchers, citizen scientists, professional researchers and knowledge coalition members, as well as the roadmaps for each of the R&I Actions. Each R&I Action started to work on it’sits indicators separately; this initial base is then summarized in one overarching table of R&I indicators that shows commonalities and differences between cases and serves as a reference point for overarching, cross-action discussion and analysis.  Although the indicator sets are not in a final stage and will be iteratively adapted and expanded during the upcoming activities with co-researchers and knowledge coalition members, we can already see that the manifold outputs expected from this project will lead to clearly identifiable intermediate outcomes, like increases in awareness, knowledge, and skills amongst all stakeholders. These intermediate outcomes are in the long-term expected to increase empowerment, self-determination and the quality of life of our co-researchers, and lead to the implementation of new measures and regulations at the side of our knowledge coalition members. Highlightening the main outputs, intermediate and long-term outcomes of each R&I Action in one matrix and then looking at all four matrices allows one to quickly answer questions like: Which R&I Action had an important impact on co-researchers? Which one impacted professional researchers? Is there a R&I Action that was successful in reaching long-term outcomes? The indicator matrix also supports us in illustrating how our specific R&I actions relate to MoRRI and SDG aspects.   

We are aware of the fact that these long-term indicators might not only be due to our project activities and it might be difficult to causally attribute measured changes as an effect of the project. This goes for both directions of causal attribution: CoAct may cause multiple effects, and an observed effect (such as a societal change) usually has not one, but many different causes. Due to these difficulties in causal attribution, we have a strong focus on qualitative assessments and case studies that should help us to understand the expected outcomes in their breadth and depth.  

Because in co-evaluation not only the impact indicators, but also the instruments to collect data for these indicators, are shaped by the involved actors, this deliverable introduces a collection of evaluation instruments that might be applied in the different R&I actions according to the needs and preferences of co-researchers and knowledge coalition members. This collection is a first suggestion of tools that will be expanded throughout the runtime of the project, with tools being selected according to the specific requirements of the different R&I actions. At the same time,  crosstime, cross-case learning activities will foster the sharing of experiences with different tools to understand which tools are most appropriate in the different settings. 

CoAct started only a view weeks before Covid-19 fundamentally changed the way we live and work. As this new situation is strongly affecting the co-research activities, individually and collectively, WP7 organised reflective sessions with the research teams of the three R&I actions to capture changes with regard to research topic, process, input, and outputs. The results from this session not only fed the contingency plan delivered to the EC, but also fostered and will continue to foster mutual learning between all project partners on how to address the new situation.  

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