CODE IT! - Making sense of vaccination policy in Austria

The socio-politically controversial issue of HPV vaccination was researched by and with young people - the segment of society that is the most affected by it.

vaccination, virus, press

The project overview

Area of Science: Social Sciences
Location: Austria and beyond
Used Devices: with PC/Mobile
Equipment of citizen scientists: PC/mobile phone, internet access
Activities of citizen scientists: sharing ideas, analysing, other activities
Suitable for: Youngsters and adults
Project duration: 01.09.2016 - 30.06.2017
Time to join in: 01.09.2016 - 30.06.2017
Expenditure of time: 15 min. per press release

Project objective

Object of investigation were press releases concerning and contributing to the debate on vaccinating against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) in Austria. This virus is sexually transmitted and highly contagious and has triggered a range of debates globally, including Austria. Yet these debates have been strongly led by experts, rather than the affected communities (adolescents and their caregivers).

With this research project scientists seeked to contribute to the following research questions: How and with which arguments have institutions influenced the public debate in form of press releases? Can citizen science be used for analysing political dicussions?

How did citizen scientists participate?

In this project students studied a dataset of nearly 400 press releases. Subsequently, the website as well as the data gained in the process were made accessible to the public. In March 2017, the website was launched as an open access research and science communication tool. The public then had the opportunity to interpret press releases and thereby help in gaining more data.

What happened to the contributions of citizen scientists?

The databased and citizen scientists’ findings contributed to the scientists’ research agenda regarding vaccination policy and to the growing interest in using citizen science beyond the natural sciences. The innovative and open nature of the project was expected to make a contribution to an otherwise expert-led policy discourse by treating target groups of health interventions as experts in their own right.

Participating and supporting institutions


Dr. Katharina T. Paul (project leader)

Project website:

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