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.
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.
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.
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