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Volunteer Monitoring

One of the most difficult issues facing volunteer environmental monitoring programs today is data credibility. Potential data users are often skeptical about volunteer data -- they may have doubts about the goals and objectives of the project, about how volunteers were trained, about how samples were collected, handled and stored, or about how data was analyzed and reports written. A key tool in breaking down this barrier of skepticism is the quality assurance project plan.

The quality assurance project plan, or QAPP, is a document that outlines the procedures that those who conduct a monitoring project will take to ensure that the data they collect and analyze meets project requirements. It is an invaluable planning and operating tool that outlines the project's methods of data collection, storage and analysis. It serves not only to convince skeptical data users about the quality of the project's findings, but also to record methods, goals and project implementation steps for current and future volunteers and for those who may wish to use the project's data over time.

The US Environmental Protection Agency and NJ Department of Environmental Protection have created guidance documents to make development of a plan easier for volunteers. There are many resources published on QAPP development, however, the plan that your group develops should be unique to your project.


Building Credibility: Quality Assurance and Quality Control for Volunteer Monitoring Programs Factsheet (Pdf Format)
USEPA - The Volunteer Monitor's Guide to Quality Assurance Project Plans (Pdf Format)
Quality Assurance Project Plan Template (Word Format)
Volunteer Monitoring QAPP Checklist

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2009
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: March 20, 2008