The experience of the CIVIC EPISTEMOLOGIES project: a Roadmap for Citizen Researchers in the Age of Digital Culture

  • Manuele Buono profile
    Manuele Buono
    5 July 2016 - updated 2 years ago
    Total votes: 2

The CIVIC EPISTEMOLOGIES project, a coordination and support action funded by the European Commission in the Seventh Framework Programme for the Research and Technological Development closed on November 2015, was about the participation of citizens in research on digital Cultural Heritage (CH) and humanities, and its main outcome is the Roadmap for Citizen Science.

Twelve partners, from 11 EU's countries, composed the very multidisciplinary consortium which was at the basis of the achievement of the project objectives.

The engagement of Europe’s citizens in scientific research has just started to be exploited, thus representing an important opportunity for improving European competitiveness. The case of digital CH and humanities is particularly relevant because:

  • Humanities play a major cross-cutting role in the evolvement of European research and innovation – as it is acknowledged also in the Horizon 2020 Programme of the EC
  • CH as such is an area in which citizens are particularly active (recording, cataloguing, and discussing things on an individual, group/voluntary/amateur basis)
  • The potential of broadening e-Infrastructure deployment to support the participation of citizens in research activities is not yet fully explored, although holding a potentially strong impact on social cohesion and job development, both aspects being important drivers in the European policy context

The project started with an analysis of the requirements and needs that existing experiences of citizen science demonstrated. This activity was carried out through a rich programme of focus group meetings, whose results were discussed in the international Workshop on “User Needs” held in Valletta in November 2014.

A Registry of Resources was developed gathering information about existing initiatives in the domain of citizen science, which can be used as reference and inspiration for new projects and which remain as a legacy of the CIVIC EPISTEMOLOGIES project after the end of the EC funding period.

A study about a shared multidisciplinary Strategic Research Agenda has been conducted in order to correlate scientific objectives with the steps indicated in the Roadmap.

In parallel, the CIVIC EPISTEMOLOGIES website was launched, complemented by a showcase on digitalmeetsculture magazine and a channel on the social networks; many cooperation agreements were also established with relevant stakeholders and projects.

An iterative process started then for the production of the Roadmap. A first draft was prepared on the basis of the requirement analysis of the previous phase; this draft was discussed in the second international Workshop “on the Roadmap” held in Leuven in February 2015. The outcomes of the discussion informed the second release of the Roadmap, which integrated also comments and feedbacks gathered through the online activity of the project and direct exchanges with stakeholders. This second release was discussed at the third international Workshop “on Innovation in CH Institutions” held in Budapest in July 2015.

During the final international Conference “DIGITAL HERITAGE AND INNOVATION, ENGAGEMENT AND IDENTITY”, held in Berlin on 12-13 November 2015, the partners of CIVIC EPISTEMOLOGIES and RICHES (FP7-SSH) projects proposed the adoption of the Berlin Charter, a set of principles for encouraging and supporting citizens’ engagement in cultural heritage and humanities research in the digital age. Several European organisations and individuals have already agreed to sign the Charter and to advocate its principles in their own operations. The Charter is open to be adopted by all interested parties, namely private organisations, public institutions, artists, professionals, researchers and interested citizens. Should you wish to adopt the Berlin Charter, please contact me at

The Roadmap is intended to be a living document, open to contributions from researchers, e-Infrastructure providers, cultural managers, artists, students, teachers, and citizens interested in the matter. An online version of the document is published on the website where visitors can deliver their comments to improve and ameliorate; it is in other words an instrument offered to the community for free use and re-use.

The aim of this Roadmap is to illustrate a path towards the engagement of citizens in the research and valorisation of CH, by using distributed services like digital tools and online communication offered by the e-Infrastructures. However, these services are meant not only for the participation of citizens - together with cultural and academic institutions - in the research processes. They shall also support the participation of creative industries in the exploitation of digital cultural content and, furthermore, artists in their role of mediator between sectors not used to working together, and providers of added value services for the benefit of the society at large.

Download the latest version of the Roadmap here:

More information about the project here:

Your comments and suggestions are very welcome.