Quality Assurance Handbook and Toolkit for Participatory Science Projects
Participatory science—also known as citizen science, community science, volunteer monitoring, public participation in scientific research, and other terms—uses the collective strength and knowledge of the public to gather and analyze data to answer environmental and public health questions.
For data generated by the public to have a meaningful impact, quality assurance during data gathering is critical. EPA has created a Quality Assurance Toolkit to help organizations starting or growing a participatory/citizen science project.
The toolkit includes the following:
- Handbook for Citizen Science Quality Assurance and Documentation
- Make Your Data Count Video Series
- Improving Citizen Science Data Quality: Orientation Guide and Fact Sheets
This Handbook for Citizen Science Quality Assurance and Documentation is for organizations that are starting or growing a participatory/citizen science project, and where transparency in the scientific methods for collecting the data are central to the outcome of the project. The Handbook has two companion documents, Examples and Templates. We have provided a Word version of the templates to allow you to customize them.
The Handbook explains the purpose of each of the templates. The Templates provide instructions, tables and questions, and the Examples provide specific examples of quality assurance documentation. Together, these documents will help your organization complete a Quality Assurance Project Plan and provide information for data users to evaluate the quality of data collected by the public.
If you have questions about EPA's Quality Assurance guidance, please email EPA's Vincia Holloman or call her at 202-564-5176. You may also want to contact federal, state, local, tribal, or other organizations for more assistance or guidance.
- Handbook for Citizen Science Quality Assurance and Documentation (pdf)
- Examples for Citizen Science Quality Assurance and Documentation (pdf)
- Templates for Citizen Science Quality Assurance and Documentation (pdf)
Templates for Citizen Science Quality Assurance and Documentation (docx) These Templates are the same ones provided in the PDF version of the document. This Word version allows you to customize the templates. Please keep in mind that you are responsible for your own editing. Use the Templates with the Handbook and Examples document.
In 18 minutes, these training videos walk you through the main concepts of the EPA QA Handbook to help them develop a project plan—a key step to producing quality data that can answer environmental and public health questions.
Orientation Guide: The orientation guide for government agencies can be used alongside the training videos, fact sheets and webinars to help provide agencies, laboratories and participatory science groups with information, strategies and resources to collaboratively develop a project plan using the EPA QA Handbook.
Fact Sheets: The first fact sheet highlighting 5 steps to improve participatory/citizen science data quality outlines the quality assurance steps in field- and laboratory-based citizen science projects. Meanwhile, the second fact sheet on essential elements of a citizen science project can be used as a companion to the "Make Your Data Count" training videos listed above.