Living Labs and citizen science are in the heart of I-CHANGE project activities. While the popularity of using Living Labs as an environment for open innovation, real-life testing and refinement of research ideas has increased, building a successful Living Lab requires thorough understanding of the ethical principles.
Ethical aspects of research may sometimes be overlooked, considered to concern only a few researchers and referring to only a certain phase or type of research. Yet, this is not the case. Ethics concern all researchers involved in citizen science projects from the planning phase to the very end, and beyond. Participating citizens should be treated with respect, their rights honoured and power difference acknowledged and treated with care. Communication about the tasks, expectations, responsibilities should be clear, and possible rewards and authorships should be open and transparent. Data collection and management should follow the principles of privacy, anonymity, rights related to data sharing during the project and reuse and storing after the project. Ethical aspects should, in a broad sense be considered already in the planning phase starting with gauging the need for ethical reviews while considering researchers’ values, positions and goals throughout the project. At the end of the project life-cycle dissemination and reflecting the research process and results together with the participants is important.
Although researchers are responsible for conducting ethically sound research, it is crucial that the participants are also aware of ethical procedures and rules. In the context of the I-CHANGE project, this meant co-creating ethical guidelines together with Living Lab project researchers and LL leaders from early on to create common understanding of the ethical aspects related to citizen involvement and following these practices in the all project activities during the lifetime of the project.
Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) led the work on bringing the ethical guidelines to life by engaging project researchers in discussions and workshops, exploiting the knowledge from prior examples in the literature and providing help to Living Lab-organizers.
By Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke): Abernethy Päivi, Artell Janne, Soini Katriina