Public Consultation on
Co-Evaluation Principles for Citizen Social Science
This work is based on the experiences made during 30 months of implementing participatory evaluation practices in the citizen social science project CoAct. The co-evaluation approach was introduced and applied in collaboration with the local research teams across three initiatives that address global social concerns (youth employment, mental healthcare, and environmental justice). Based on these experiences, we derived a set of 6 principles that we identified as highly relevant for the implementation of co-evaluation practices in citizen social science.
With this public consultation, we would like to present the principles to a wider audience in order to challenge, complement, and critique them. We see this as an opportunity to enrich the principles with additional experiences, to expand them with fresh views, and to encourage discussion. The consultation is open until the 30th of August 2022.
6 Principles to guide co-evaluation in citizen social science
Click on the principles to read more about them and leave your comment and rating as part of the consultation process. Contributors of the public consultation will be named if they wish so 🙂
- Responsible engagement
- Openness & transparency
- Inclusivity & responsiveness
- Transformative perspective
- Flexibility & reflexivity
- Participant ownership
In accordance with Patton (2010) and Cousins/Whitmore (1998) we consider a set of principles a useful tool that provides guidance especially for projects that are complex, involve many actors and require flexibility and adaptation. This approach stands in contrast to pre-defined evaluation processes that neither allow for the involvement of research participants in the evaluation design nor consider collaborative decision-making structures.
Background information on co-evaluation
In our understanding, co-evaluation is a form of participatory evaluation that initiates the conversation with stakeholders on expectations, objectives and impact already at the start of the project. It is defined as a process that involves relevant actors in a project in an iterative evaluation practice and adapts methods of participatory action research for evaluation purposes in participatory research settings. Project goals and objectives, understandings of success, challenges, and unintended effects are collectively discussed and documented at the beginning of a project and regularly re-visited during the research design and execution, ideally even beyond the project’s end. Assessment and intended impacts hence become transparent entities in the project design.
In our understanding, co-evaluation takes a transformative stance as it includes co-creation methods that aim not only at learning about a situation but also at overcoming hindrances, tackling issues, and finding solutions to problems such as how to measure the success of a research project in terms of stakeholder benefits with special emphasis on marginalised perspectives. The objectives of the co-evaluation are negotiated transparently and are intended to benefit both the science and the participants. This means that the results of the co-evaluation also provide useful starting points for further action after the end of the project.
Co-evaluation approaches & methods
Co-evaluation has a strong emphasis on collective discussions, learning, and critical reflection. During the co-evaluation process, which is conducted as a team effort, the assessment procedures and applied methods may vary greatly in their manifestation, depending on the context. It includes qualitative and quantitative methods, from surveys to storytelling and any empirical data gathering method. Most importantly, it is a reflective learning process that involves participants in the decision making process. Instead of proposing a set of predefined methods, co-evaluation builds on a set of principles while aiming to adapt the methods to the situative contexts.
A few common considerations for successfully implementing a co-evaluation process:
- Co-evaluation should be an integral part of a citizen social science project from the very beginning and co-designed into the action(s). It should not be seen as an “add-on” or external to specific citizen science activities.
- It is recommended that the core team guiding the citizen science project should include a person responsible for co-evaluation.
- Co-actors involved in the project should be sensitized on the concept of co-evaluation and should have the opportunity and space to build capacity on co-evaluation even before jointly launching any project.