Public Lab Research note

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Creating an evaluation framework for Public Lab

by Shannon |

During 2015, the Public Lab nonprofit received a grant from the Rita Allen Foundation in partnership with UC-Davis to build an evaluation framework that can be implemented by the nonprofit staff. Launching almost six years ago during the BP oil spill, the Public Lab community has created a unique model that combines civic technology and community science to support people in becoming stakeholders engaged in the decision-making processes of places they care about.

A strong evaluation program is key to the long term growth and success of every organization, but is especially important for Public Lab because we focus not just on breadth of engagement, but also depth of engagement, which requires a more nuanced understanding of who is participating, how, and why. During the next several years, Public Lab will be engaging in the following work:

Phase 1: A quantitative and qualitative snapshot evaluation of Public Lab to understand where we are at to date regarding participation and impact.
Phase 2: Creating an evaluation framework that Public Lab can implement to measure impact into the future. This will allow an evaluation ethos to be built into Public Lab such that nonprofit staff are able to systematically learn about engagement in Public Lab and improve impact going forward.
Phase 3: Creating a public facing evaluation framework that other community science groups can use for project evaluation.

If you have ideas or questions, please leave comments on this note or email

nonprofit evaluation


Am interested in the qualitative analysis methodology which will be considered for the evaluation framework.

If I may suggest something: There is a very good resource available on the design of qualitative and quantitative measurement systems for impact investing(Development Finance Institutions) which PublicLab may find fits rather well in spite of the title of the book. The methods used seem very applicalbe and the advice offered on design techneques certainly seem applicable. The resource is as follows and can be downloaded without charge:

Evaluating the Impact of Development Projects on Poverty A Handbook for Practitioners DIRECTIONS IN DEVELOPMENT The World Bank Washington, D.C. Judy L. Baker ISBN 0-8213-4697-0

Hope that might be helpful.... I would like to stress that the title of the book should not dissuade one from considering it's value for what I understand PublicLab is looking for based on what was posted by #Shannon.

As a side note, I have found that the software called NVivo is very helpful with qualitative analysis when the subject matter is text based, as it is with blog entries and other social media. The tools available within the program speed the identification, categorization and analysis process enormously....

Based on the evaluation framework, there is a series of things to be done in the public laboratory for Metagenomics blob

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