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Selecting SDDP Participants

Identification of a pool of citizens, scientists and other experts – unless instructed otherwise in the terms of reference of the awarded project we will work with the sponsor of a Co-laboratory to identify potential participants (citizens, academics, experts, social entrepreneurs and policy makers). These individuals will represent the whole spectrum of potential participants ensuring where relevant a valid mix of socio-economic backgrounds, age, gender. In order to facilitate the selection of the most appropriate people to participate in the projects’ SDDPs, the project team will design and deliver to the created pool a stakeholders/experts’ online questionnaire aiming to evaluate the background, expertise and involvement of applicant citizens, scientists and experts in the overall field of study.  Evaluation questions will include: (i) What is your expertise? (ii) What is your role and type of involvement in socio-economic challenge that is the subject of the dialogue ? (iii) Have you ever been involved in policy development actions related to the subject of the dialogue?

Interactions with a small number of potential participants -  In selected cases (e.g. when a person has specialized expertise or extensive contact with the subject matter) in-depth interviews will be conducted  to validate and enhance the results from the questionnaires. The aim will be to interview around 20 stakeholders using semi-structured questionnaires with interviews lasting between 45 minutes and 1 hour. The semi-structured format will permit a similar set of questions to be addressed to all interviewees, while allowing for emergent issues to be explored. All interviewees will be sent an interview information sheet and topic guide a few days in advance of the proposed interview date. This will include information about the aims of the project, the purpose of the interview, a consent form and a list indicating the topics to be covered during the interview.

The analysis of the in-depth interviews and questionnaires will be utilised to facilitate the selection process by enabling the development of a Participant Selection Attributes Matrix (PSAM) with fields like, age, country, gender, company/body, area of expertise, interests, role in citizen science project, type of citizen project represented, etc. We  will use a simple scoring system to “score” each potential participant on a scale of 1-5 for each of these attributes. This process will enable us to optimize the selection, and secure balanced representation in as many of the above attributes as possible, which is instrumental for a successful outcome. A representative mixture of stakeholders must be secured in order to comply with the Law of Requisite Variety[1]. The matrix will also assist us in creating a reserve list in case someone cancels. The final selection of the participants will be done for each of the SDDs in WP3 and WP4 where the exact fields (and weights) to be used for the matrix will be decided using the knowledge and data acquired from the questionnaires and interviews, as well as the taxonomy. Because, the majority of citizens projects are in hard science domains, extra effort should be made to include sufficient representatives from soft science projects. Furthermore, the analysis of the interviews and questionnaires will be taken into consideration when preparing stakeholders/experts materials for the SDDP Co-laboratories. 

Where appropriate, the project team will also develop a set of smart selection criteria to be used for selecting external experts who will be invited to participate in and contribute their expertise mainly during the SDDP Co-laboratories.

[1] Ashby, W.R. 1956, An Introduction to Cybernetics, Chapman & Hall, 1956, ISBN 0-416-68300-2 p207. Available online: Retrieved 15 Mar 2019.