Luxembourg Nexus Futures project

DSC_0264The Luxembourg Nexus Futures project has been established and run by Dr Ariane König (University of Luxembourg). The project is exploring the challenges of nexus (water-energy-food) in the in the Luxembourg context. Using the river partnerships (Upper Sure and Syr) they look into different dimensions of sustainability. The project is looking at sustainability science and sustainability transformations. The project takes a democratic approach to knowledge, without privileging expert knowledge and trying to value local knowledge. This project is also very strongly informed by philosophical/theoretical frameworks – including phenomenology and Dewey pragmatism. The project is putting specific efforts in the recording of experience and meaning-making as a way to demonstrate to the participants that their views are being heard and valued. There is a specific effort to identify and develop actionable knowledge (including finding out what “actionable knowledge” mean).

Diagram of water information relations in LuxembourgAn interesting aspect of the project is a strong commitment to co-production of knowledge, and an aim that citizen science will be integrated into the project extensively. Karl Pickar, who is doing PhD at the University of Luxembourg and visiting researcher in ExCiteS, looked at the rationale for using citizen science – the theory for participation and citizen science is a way to create a joint understanding of the world in view of the increasing complexity. Jasanoff and Latour were pointing to the need for more co-production of knowledge. The project focus on society, technology, and the environment through system thinking approach – need to understand relations. Calls for more participation is increasing in policy – e.g. in the water directive of the EU where it is a success criterion. In terms of citizen science tools, see data entry tools (which include evaluation of the experience of participants. The toolkit can provide all the tools that participants need to collect the data  – aiming to have 3-5 tools that can be used. The sensing can be from biochemical to cultural aspects. The database part of the system is not only to collect data but also to make it accessible and also relevant to connect people – so they can be used together. The core question is the role of citizen science in systems thinking in addressing water challenges in Luxembourg. Some early focus groups can explore 3-4 difference citizen science tools to identify potential topics that will be covered through citizen science. Community Maps of Mapping for Change can be used as an example of the different ways of collecting and sharing information. There is also a potential of using iNaturalist in the data collection and identification. There are already observations from iNat in Luxembourg. The interviews have shown that there is a complexity of actors and networks of data flows. Information is collected by the administration for the management of water, and the information – data that is collected on a project basis is lost when the project is ended, no archiving – connections and luck play a part in this. Preliminary interviews have shown that people wanted to report incidents – questions are what are the incentives to participants for their effort. Some of the prime concerns are misinterpretation and data, data quality, and wrong measurements. A proper data quality definition needs to be more reflective and dependent on context.



GSF-NESTI Open Science & Scientific Excellence workshop – researcher, participants, and institutional aspects

The Global Science Forum – National Experts on Science and Technology Indicators (GSF-NESTI) Workshop on “Reconciling Scientific Excellence and Open Science” (for which you can see the full report here) asked the question “What do we want out of science and how can we incentivise and monitor these outputs?”. In particular, the objective of the workshop was “to explore what we want out of public investment in science in the new era of Open Science and what might be done from a policy perspective to incentivise the production of desired outputs.” with an aim to explore the overarching questions of:
1. What are the desirable (shorter-term) outputs and (longer-term) impacts that we expect from Open Science and what are potential downsides?
2. How can scientists and institutions be incentivised to produce these desirable outcomes and manage the downsides?
3. What are the implications for science monitoring and assessment mechanisms?

The session that I was asked to contribute to focused on Societal Engagement: “The third pillar of Open Science is societal engagement. Ensuring open access to scientific information and data, as considered in the previous sessions, is one way of enabling societal engagement in science. Greater access to the outputs of public research for firms is expected to promote innovation. However, engaging with civil society more broadly to co-design and co-produce research, which is seen as essential to addressing many societal challenges, will almost certainly require more pro-active approaches.
Incentivising and measuring science’s engagement with society is a complex area that ranges across the different stages of the scientific process, from co-design of science agendas and citizen science through to education and outreach. There are many different ways in which scientists and scientific institutions engage with different societal actors to informing decision-making and policy development at multiple scales. Assessing the impact of such engagement is difficult and is highly context and time-dependent“.

For this session, the key questions were

  • “What do we desire in terms of short and long-term outputs and impacts from societal engagement?
  • How can various aspect of scientific engagement be incentivised and monitored?
  • What are the necessary skills and competencies for ‘citizen scientists’ and how can they be developed and rewarded?
  • How does open science contribute to accountability and trust?
  • Can altmetrics help in assessing societal engagement?”

In my talk, I’ve decided to address the first three questions, by reflecting on my personal experience (so the story of a researcher trying to balance the “excellence” concepts and “societal engagement”), then consider the experience of the participants in citizen science projects, and finally the institutional perspective.

I’ve started my presentation [Slide 3] with my early experiences in public engagement with environmental information (and participants interest in creating environmental information) during my PhD research, 20 years ago. This was a piece of research that set me on the path of societal engagement, and open science – for example, the data that we were showing was not accessible to the general public at the time, and I was investigating how the processes that follow the Aarhus convention and use of digital mapping information in GIS can increase public engagement in decision making. This research received a small amount of funding from UCL, and later from ESRC, but not significantly.

I then secured an academic position in 2001, and it took to 2006 [Slide 4] to develop new systems – for example, this London Green Map was developed shortly after Google Maps API became available, and while this is one of the first participatory GIS applications on to of this novel API, this was inherently unfunded (and was done as an MSc project). Most of my funded work at this early stage of my career had no link to participatory mapping and citizen science. This was also true for the research into OpenStreetMap [Slide 5], which started around 2005, and apart from a small grant from the Royal Geographical Society, was not part of the main funding that I secured during the period.

The first significant funding specifically for my work came in 2007-8, about 6 years into my academic career [Slide 6]. Importantly, it came because the people who organised a bid for the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), realised that they are weak in the area of community engagement and the work that I was doing in participatory mapping fit into their plans. This became a pattern, where people approach with a “community engagement problem” – so there is here a signal that awareness to societal engagement started to grow, but in terms of the budget and place in the projects, it was at the edge of the planning process. By 2009, the investment led to the development of a community mapping system [Slide 7] and the creation of Mapping for Change, a social enterprise that is dedicated to this area.

Fast forward to today [Slide 8-10], and I’m involved in creating software for participatory mapping with non-literate participants, that support the concept of extreme citizen science. In terms of “scientific excellence”, this development, towards creating a mapping system that anyone, regardless of literacy can use [Slide 11] is funded as “challenging engineering” by EPSRC, and as “frontier research” by the ERC, showing that it is possible to completely integrated scientific excellence and societal engagement – answering the “reconciling” issue in the workshop. A prototype is being used with ZSL to monitor illegal poaching in Cameroon [Slide 12], demonstrating the potential impact of such a research.

It is important to demonstrate the challenges of developing societal impact by looking at the development of Mapping for Change [Slide 13]. Because it was one of the first knowledge-based social enterprises that UCL established, setting it up was not simple – despite sympathy from senior management, it didn’t easily fit within the spin-off mechanisms of the university, but by engaging in efforts to secure further funding – for example through a cross universities social enterprise initiatives – it was possible to support the cultural transformation at UCL.

There are also issues with the reporting of the impact of societal engagement [Slide 14] and Mapping for Change was reported with the REF 2014 impact case studies. From the universities perspective, using these cases is attractive, however, if you recall that this research is mostly done with limited funding and resources, the reporting is an additional burden which is not coming with appropriate resources. This lack of resources is demonstrated by Horizon 2020, which with all the declarations on the importance of citizen science and societal engagement, dedicated to Science with and for Society only 0.60% of the budget [Slide 15].

Participant experience

Alice Sheppard presenting her escallatorWe now move to look at the experience of participants in citizen science projects, pointing that we need to be careful about indicators and measurements.

We start by pointing to the wide range of activities that include public engagement in science [Slide 17-18] and the need to provide people with the ability to move into deeper or lighter engagement in different life stages and interests. We also see that as we get into more deep engagement, the number of people that participate drop (this is part of participation inequality).

For specific participants, we need to remember that citizen science projects are trying to achieve multiple goals – from increasing awareness to having fun, to getting good scientific data [Slide 19] – and this complicates what we are assessing in each project and the ability to have generic indicators that are true to all projects. There are also multiple learning that participants can gain from citizen science [Slide 20], including personal development, and also attraction and rejection factors that influence engagement and enquiry [Slide 21]. This can also be demonstrated in a personal journey – in this example Alice Sheppard’s journey from someone with interest in science to a citizen science researcher [Slide 22].

However, we should not look only at the individual participant, but also at the communal level. An example for that is provided by the noise monitoring app in the EveryAware project [Slide 23] (importantly, EveryAware was part of Future Emerging Technologies – part of the top excellence programme of EU funding). The application was used by communities around Heathrow to signal their experience and to influence future developments [Slide 24]. Another example of communal level impact is in Putney, where the work with Mapping for Change led to change in the type of buses in the area [Slide 25].

In summary [Slide 26], we need to pay attention to the multiplicity of goals, objectives, and outcomes from citizen science activities. We also need to be realistic – not everyone will become an expert, and we shouldn’t expect mass transformation. At the same time, we shouldn’t expect it not to happen and give up. It won’t happen without funding (including to participants and people who are dedicating significant time).

Institutional aspects

The linkage of citizen science to other aspects of open science come through DITOs bus in Birmingham participants’ right to see the outcome of work that they have volunteered to contribute to [Slide 28]. Participants are often highly educated, and can also access open data and analyse it. They are motivated by contribution to science, so a commitment to open access publication is necessary. This and other aspects of open science and citizen science are covered in the DITOs policy brief [Slide 29]. A very important recommendation from the brief is that recognition that “Targeted actions are required. Existing systems (funding, rewards, impact assessment and evaluation) need to be assessed and adapted to become fit for Citizen Science and Open Science.”

We should also pay attention to recommendations such as those from the League of European Research Universities (LERU) report from 2016 [Slide 30]. In particular, there are recommendations to universities (such as setting a single contact point) and to funders (such as setting criteria to evaluate citizen science properly). There are various mechanisms to allow universities to provide an entry point to communities that need support. Such a mechanism is called “science shop” and provide a place where people can approach the university with an issue that concerns them and identify researchers that can work with them. Science shops require coordination and funding to the students who are doing their internships with community groups. Science shops and centres for citizen science are a critical part of opening up universities and making them more accessible [Slide 31].

Universities can also contribute to open science, open access, and citizen science through learning – such as, with a MOOC that designed to train researchers in the area of citizen science and crowdsourcing that we run at UCL [Slide 32].

In summary, we can see that citizen science is an area that is expanding rapidly. It got multifaceted aspects for researchers, participants and institutions, and care should be taken when considering how to evaluate them and how to provide indicators about them – mix methods are needed to evaluate & monitor them.

There are significant challenges of recognition: as valid excellent research, to have a sustainable institutional support, and the most critical indicator – funding. The current models in which they are hardly being funded (<1% in NERC, for example) show that funders still have a journey between what they are stating and what they are doing.

Reflection on the discussion: from attending the workshop and hearing about open access, open data, and citizen science, I left the discussion realising that the “societal engagement” is a very challenging aspect of the open science agenda – and citizen science practitioners should be aware of that. My impression is that with open access, as long as the payment is covered (by funder or the institution), and as long as the outlet is perceived as high quality, scientists will be happy to do so. The same can be said about open data – as long as funders are willing to cover the costs and providing mechanisms and support for skills, for example through libraries then we can potentially have progress there, too (although over protection over data by individual scientists and groups is an issue).

However, citizen science is opening up challenges and fears about expertise, and perceptions about it risking current practices, societal status, etc. Especially when considering the very hierarchical nature of scientific work – at the very local level through different academic job ranking, and within a discipline with specific big names setting the agenda in a specific field. These cultural aspects are more challenging.

In addition, there seem to be a misunderstanding of what citizen science is and mixing it with more traditional public engagement, plus some views that it can do fine by being integrated into existing research programmes. I would not expect to see major change without providing a clear signal through significant funding over a period of time that will indicate to scientists that the only way to unlock such funding is through societal engagement. This is not exactly a “moonshot” type funding – pursue any science that you want but open it. This might lead to the necessary cultural change.

OECD Open Science and Scientific Excellence Workshop – Paris

The OECD organised and hosted a Global Science Forum (GSF) and National Experts on Science and Technology Indicators (NESTI) Workshop on  “Reconciling Scientific Excellence and Open Science: What do we want out of science and how can we incentivise and monitor these outputs?” (9 April, 2018, OECD). In agreement with the OECD Secretariat, the information here is not attributed to anyone specific (Here is the blog post about my own presentation).

The workshop opened with the point that speaking about reconciling open science and science seem contradictory. Scientific excellence was based on the value of publications, but the digital transformation and the web have changed things – from elite access to a library where outputs are held to one that is available to everyone over the web, and we can see citizens accessing data. We also need to look at the future – opening even more, which is something positive but there are challenges in measuring, the impact of different bibliometrics and other indicators.

The openness happens quickly, and we need to understand the transformation and then think about the statistical aspects of this information. There is an effort of developing a roadmap to see the integration of open science across science policy initiatives.

The area is fairly complex: excellence, how science is changing, incentivise and measuring science – all these are tightly related to each other. Some of the fundamental questions: what do we want from science? only excellence or other things? How can we incentivise the academic community to move in the direction of open science – and what the policy community of science need to do about it. National Statistical communities and Global Science Forum are two important groups that can influence it in terms of policy and the measurement the impacts and processes.

The meeting is looking at open science, publishing, open data, and engagement with society, as well as indicators and measurement.

The slides from all the talks are available here. 

Session 1. Scientific excellence through open science or vice versa? What is excellence and how can it be operationalised in the evidence and policy debate?

Paula Stephan (Georgia State University, USA) addressed the challenges of science – lack of risk-taking, and lack of career opportunities to Early Career Scientists in their research. The factors that impact that – especially short-term bibliometrics and then, how open science can help in dealing with the issues.

The original rationale for government support science is the high risk that is associated with basic research. The competitive selective procedures reducing risk and leading to safer options to secure funding (including NIH or ERC). James Rothman who won Nobel prize in Physiology pointed that in the 1970s there was a much higher level of risk that allows him to explore things for 5 years before he started being productive. Concerns about that aspects appeared by AAAS in 2008 ARISE report, and NASA and DARPA became much more risk-averse.

In addition, there is lack of career opportunities for ECRs – the number of PhD is growing, but the number of research position declining – both in industry and academia. Positions are scare and working in universities is an alternative career. Because of the way that the scarce jobs or research applications are based on short citation windows – high impact journal paper is critical for career development. Postdocs are desperate to get a Nature or Science paper. Assessment of novel papers (papers that use references never before made together) showed that only 11% of papers are novel, and highly novel papers is associated with risk: disproportionate concentration at the top and bottom in citations distribution, and also get cited outside the field. The more novel the paper is, the less likely it is to appear in high ranking journal. The bibliometrics discourage researchers from taking these risks with novel paper.

Open science gives opportunity – citizen science give an opportunity for new ways of addressing some issues  – e.g. through crowdfunding to accommodate risky research. In addition, publication in open access can support these novel paper strategies.

Richard Gold (McGill University, Montreal, Canada) looked at why institutions choose open science – exponentially increasing costs of research, but it’s not enough and there are requests to ask for more funding. Productivity is declining – measured by the number of papers per investment. Firms are narrowing their focus of research.

We can, therefore, consider Open Science partnerships – OA publications, Open Data and no patents on co-created outputs as a potential way to address these challenges. This can be centred around academic and not-for-profit research centre, and generally about basic understanding of scientific issues, with data in the centre. Institutions look at it as a partial solution – decreasing duplication as no need to replicate, provide quality through many eyes, and providing synergies because there is a more diverse set of partners. It can increase productivity because data can be used in different fields, using wider networks of ideas and the ability to search through a pool of ideas. We can see across fields – more researchers, but fewer outputs in. In patent applications, we see that also the 1950s was the recent peak in novelty in terms of linking unrelated field, and this is dropping since.

An alternative to this is a system like the Structural Genomics Consortium – attracting philanthropic and industrial funding. There is also a citizen science aspects – ability to shape the research agenda in addition to providing the data. The second thing is that the data can be used with their communities – patients and indigenous groups are more willing to be involved. Open science better engages and empower patients in the process – easier to get consent.

Discussion: during the selection of projects, the bibliometrics indications need to be removed from the application and from funding decisions. Need people to read the research ideas, and need to move away from funding only a single person as the first author – need to incentivise teams and support. Need to think how to deal with impact of research and not only on the original research (someone might use the dataset that was produced in open science for a publication, not by the person who did the work).

There is a sense that the “lack of risk-taking” is an issue, but there is a need for measuring and showing if it is happening. Lots of scientists censuring their work and there is a need to document this happening. The global redistribution of people is about which areas people concentrate on – e.g. between physics and agriculture.

Session 2 – Open access publication and dissemination of scientific information

Rebecca Lawrence (Faculty of 1000) described how F1000 is aiming to develop a different model of publication – separating publication from evaluation. The publication is there because of funders and researchers evaluate others around where they publish. There are all sort of manipulations: overselling, p-value fishing, creative outliers, plagiarism, non-publication by a journal that don’t want low impact papers and more. There is a growing call for the move towards open access publication – e.g. the open science policy platform, European open science cloud, principles such as DORA, FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) and an increase of pre-print sources. There is also a new range of how science is being organised – how to make it sustainable in areas where there aren’t receiving much funding – use of pre-print services, and also exploring the peer review funding. F1000 is about thinking about the speed of s finding. The model was developed with Wellcome, Gates foundation and creating a platform that is controlled by funders, or institutions, and by researchers. In this model, publishers are service providers. F1000 support a wide range of outputs: research article, data, software, methods, case studies. They check that the paper technically: is the data behind it accessible and that it was not published before. The publication is done a complete open peer review – so you can see who is reviewing and what was done by the author. Within the article, you can see the stage in the research – even before peer review. Making the paper a living document – usually 14 days between submission and publication, and usually a month including being reviewed. The peer review here is transparent and the reviewers are being cited. This is good for ECRs to gain experience.

The indicators need to take into account career levels, culture (technical and reflective) and not only fields, and thinking about different structures – individual, group, institution. Need open metrics, and certain badges that tell you what you are looking for and also qualitative measures- traditional publications can curate articles.

2. Vincent Tunru (Flockademic, Netherlands) explored the issue of incentivising open science. Making science more inclusive – making more people being able to contribute to the scientific process. Open access can become the goal instead of the means to become more inclusive. If the information is free, people can read the results of publicly funded research, but there is a barrier to publish research within the OA model – publication costs should be much lower: other areas (music, news) have gone down in costs because of the internet. In some disciplines, there is the culture of sharing pre-print and getting feedback before submission to journals – although places like ArXiv is doing the work. The primary value of the submission to a journal is the credentialing, High-level journals can create scarcity to justify the demand. Nature scientific reports is taking over PLOS ONE because of that. We need to decouple credentialing from the specific journals. Different measures of excellence are possible, but we need to consider how we do it today – assuming that it is reviewers and editors are the ones who consider what excellence means. Need to focus on inclusivity and affordability. [See Vincent blog post here]

Kim Holmberg (University of Turku, Finland) focused on altmetrics –  Robert Merton pointed already in the 1950s that the referencing system is about finding a work that wasn’t known before but also about recognition of the other researchers. That leads then to how the journal impact factor and the H-Index became part of research assessment. These are being used more and more in research evaluation especially in the past 15 years. Earlier research has pointed out many flaws with them. In addition, they fail to take into account the complexity of scientific activities, nor do they tell you anything about the societal impact of research. One way to look at the complexity is the Open Science Career Assessment Matrix (OS-CAM).

We can think about the traces that people leave online as they go through the research process – discussing research ideas, collecting data, analysing, disseminating results. These traces can become altmetrics – another view of research activities. It is not just social media: the aim is to expand the view of what’s impact is about. With altmetrics we can analyse the networks that the researcher is involved in and that can give insights into new ways of interaction between the researcher with society. Citations show that a paper has been used by another researcher, while altmetrics can indicate how it has been disseminated and discussed among a wider audience. But there are still lots of questions about the meaning and applicability of altmetrics.

There are reports from the Mutual Learning Exercise!bj48Xg – looking at altmetrics, incentives and rewards for open science activities. For instance, in the area of career & research evaluation, researchers need specific training and education about open science, and in the area of evolving authorship identifying and rewarding peer review and publishing of negative results need to be developed. Implementation of open science needs to guarantee long-term sustainability and reward role-models who can provide a demonstration of this new approach to involving in science. The roadmap from the MLE suggests a process for this implementation.

Discussion: there is the issue of finding a good researcher in a group of researchers and publications is a way to see the ideas, but the link to open science and how it can help in that is unclear. However, finding a good researcher does not happen through all these metrics – it’s a human problem and not only a metric. Will originality be captured by these systems? Publication is only small part of the research activity – in every domain, there is a need to change and reduce the publication, but not only to think that someone will read the same paper again and again (after each revision). Attention is the scarce resource that needs to be managed and organised not to assume that more find a way to filter the information.

The response to this pointed that because of research funding is public, we should encourage publishing as much as possible so others can find the information, but we need good tools for searching and evaluating research so you can find it.

Another confusion – want to see the link between open access publication and open science. Open access can exist in the publish or perish structure. What is it in OA that offer an alternative to the close publishing structure. How can that lead us to different insight into researchers activities? In response to this, it was pointed out that it is important to understand the difference between Open Access and Open Science (OA = openly available research publications, OS = all activities and efforts that open the whole research process, including publishing of research results).

There is growing pressure for people to become media savvy and that means taking time from research.

Altmetrics: originally thought of as a tool that can help researchers find interesting and relevant research, not necessarily for evaluation (

Discussion: there is the issue of finding a good researcher in a group of researchers and publications is a way to see the ideas, but the link to open science and how it can help in that is unclear. However, finding a good researcher is not through all these metrics – it’s a human problem and not only a metric. Will originality be captured by these systems? Publication is only small part of the research activity – in every domain, there is a need to change and reduce the publication, but not only to think that someone will read the same paper again and again (after each revision). Attention is the scarce resource that needs to manage and organised not to assume that more find a way to filter the information.

The response to this pointed that because of research funding is public, we should encourage publishing as much as possible so others can find the information, but we need good tools for searching and evaluating research so you can find it.

Another confusion – want to see the link between open access publication and open science. Open access can exist in the publish or perish structure. What is it in OA that offer an alternative to the close publishing structure. How can that lead us to different insight into researchers activities?

There is growing pressure for people to become media savvy and that means taking time from research.

Altmetrics: originally as a tool that can help other researchers, not necessarily for evaluation.

Session 3. Open research data: good data management and data access

Simon Hodson (CODATA) – Open Science and FAIR data. The reconciling elements – the case for open science is the light that it shines on the data and make it useful. It allows reuse, reproducibility, and replicability – it is very much matching each other. CODATA is part of the International Council for Science – focusing capacity building, policy, and coordination. The case for open science – good scientific practice depends on communicating the evidence. In the past, a table or a graph that summarises some data was an easy way of sharing information, but as data and analysis grew, we need to change the practice of sharing results. The publications of “Science as an open enterprise” (2012), including pointing that the failure to report the data underlying the science is seen as malpractice. Secondly, open data practices transform certain areas of research – genomics, remote sensing in earth systems science. Can we replicate this in other research areas? Finally, can we foster innovation and reuse of data and finding within and outside the academic system – making it available to the public at large.

Open science has multiple elements – open science is not only open access and open data. We need data to be interoperable and reusable and should be available for machine learning and have an open discussion. There are perceptions of reproducibility of research but also change in attitudes. We need to think about culture – how scientific communities established their practices. In different research areas, there are very different approaches – e.g. in biomedical research, this is open but in social science, there is little experience of data sharing and reuse and don’t see benefits. There is a need for a sociology of science analysis of these changes. Some of these major changes: meetings about genome research in Bermuda and Fort Lauderdale agreement which was because of certain pressures. There is significant investment in creating data that is not being used once – e.g. Hubble. Why data across small experiments is not open to reuse? We need to find making this happen.

FAIR principle allows data to be reusable. FAIR came from OECD work, Royal Society report 2012 and G8 statement. What we need to address: skills, also limits of sharing, need to clarify guidelines for openness. We need to have standards, skills and reward data stewardship. We need to see data citation of data. There is a need for new incentives – the cultural change happened when prominent people in the field set up the agreement.

Fiona Murphy (Fiona Murphy Mitchell Consulting, UK) Working in the area of data publishing and providing the perspective of someone who is exploring how to practice open science. There are cultural issues: why to share, with whom, what rewards, and what is the risk. Technical – how is that is done, what are the workflows, tools, capacity, and time investment. There are issues of roles and responsibilities and who’s problem is it to organise the data.

Examples of projects – SHARC – share research data alliance – international and multi-stakeholders and aim to grow the capacity to share data. The specific group is working a White Paper on recommendations. The main issues are standards for metrics: need to be transparent, need about reputation, and impact on a wider area. Also, what will be the costs of non-sharing? There are different standards in terms of policies, also need persistent identifiers and the ability to reproduce. Equality of access to services is needed – how to manage peer to peer and how is that integrated into promotion and rewards. The way to explore that is by carrying out pilots projects to understand side effects. There is also a need to develop ethical standards.

The Belmont Forum Data Publishing Policy – looking at creating the data accessibility that is part of a digital publication. Developing consistency of message so researchers will know what they are facing. There are lots of issues – some standard wording is emerging, and capturing multiple data sets, clarify licensing etc.

We can also think about what would have started if all the current system was in place – the is suggesting principles for “born digital” scientific practice should evolve. The approach to thinking about commons, they have created some decision trees to help with the project. Working as open scientists is a challenge today – for example, need to develop a decision tree software and other things are proving challenging to act as a completely open scientist. It’s a busy space and there is a gulf between high-level policy and principles and their delivery.

Jeff Spies (Centre for Open Science, Virginia) [via video-link] Jeff is covering open research data, urgent problems, and incremental solutions. looking at strategies that are the most impactful (which is different from the center for open science). We need to broaden the definition of data – we need context: more than just the data itself or the metadata – it is critical for the assessment, metascience work. We can think of knowledge graph – more then the semantic information for the published text, and the relationship of people, place, data, methods, software… but the situation in incentives is – from psychological perspectives, the getting awards for specific publications is so strong that makes the focus on what is publishable. We have rates of retractions go up as impact factor goes up. There is urgency and the lock-in the publishers are trying to capture the life-cycle of research. The problem is that culture change is very slow and we need to protect the data – funders and policymakers that can make a difference. Researchers don’t have the ability to curate data – but libraries are the people that can have a resource for that and focus. Potential – the researcher asked to link to promotion policies and that will force universities to share them, and if the policy mention data sharing (as a way to force universities to change)

Discussion: there is concern about the ability of researchers to deal with data. There is a problem of basic data literacy.

The problem with making the data FAIR it is about 10% of the project costs and where it is useful, or where it is not enough or too much – just organising the data with the librarians is not enough as data requires a lot of domain knowledge. There are significant costs. however, in the same way, that the total costs of science to include the effort of peer review, or getting to publications (either subscription or publication), then we should also pay for the data curation. There is a need for appraisal and decision how data and process will be done.

We need to think about the future use of data – the same as natural history specimens and we can never know what should be done. Questions about the meaning of data are very important – it’s not only specimens but also photographs and not necessarily digital.

Libraries can adapt and can get respects – they are experts in curation and archiving

Session 4. Societal engagement 

Kazuhiro Hayashi (NISTEP, Tokyo, Japan) Open science as a social engagement in Japan. Is in science and technology – is being involved in open access journal and keen about altmetrics – now involved in open science policy. Generally, see multi-role – top down and bottom up – from working in G7 science expert group in open science, and also in creating software and journals. Involved in citizen science NISTEP journal and lectures, and involved in altmetrics, multi-stakeholders workshop and future earth. He would like to showcase studies:

Citizen science – the funding system in Japan for science is coming from the state mainly and they have a difficult time to do public engagement – spontaneous researchers “wild researchers”. Suggesting a more symmetrical system – creating also independent researchers which are getting their budget from a business and they publish in online journals. Wild researchers are based on crowdfunding and relay on the engagement of citizens. From his experience, recognise the new relationship between citizens and scientists: research style, new career paths and funding. Negative aspects of citizen science include populism in crowdfunding – need to be popular but not suitable for the crowd. Als need a new scheme for ECRs and need to include it. Also, there is a potential for misuse and plagiarism because of lack of data and science literacy.

Altmetrics – contributed to NISO Altmetrics initiative working group – difficult to define, and current altmetrics scores in Japanese literature are closely related to Maslow’s hierarchy of need. There are plenty of institutional repositories that – access to journal articles on repositories is more social – readers are non-researchers who would go to journal websites. Need to look at social impact – look mentioning and network analysis but it is difficult to analyse. There is need to look at the flow of data across the web.

Multi-stakeholders workshop – considering the future of open science and society. With environmental sciences and informatics. the outcome is to think about erasing influences of different socio-economic status on participants. Co-development of data infrastructure and the action of social transformation. There is an importance in capacity building. Need to see how open science and transdisciplinary work co-evolved. For social engagement – very time-consuming and need to get funded, and need open for creative activities for citizens and scientists. Think about new relationships between science and society. Need to use tentative indicators to transform society and culture – creating a future of open science and society – move from “publish or perish” to “share or perish”. Japan will have 2 citizen science sessions at the Japan open science summit on June 18-19 2018.

Muki Haklay (UCL, London, UK) [see my separate blog post]

Cecilia Cabello Valdes (Foundation for Science and Technology, Madrid, Spain) Societal engagement in open science. The foundation is aimed to promote science link with society – original with interest of increasing interest of the Spanish citizens. They are managing calls and fund different activities (about 3,250K Eur). More than 200 projects. They do activities such as Famelab – giving events to promote science and technology, in an open way. The science news agency – there is lack of awareness of scientific research – the SiNC agency – the papers are taken by general media – over 1000 journalists who use the information. They carry out summer science camps: 1920 funded students funded in 16 universities.They also manage the national museum of science and technology (Muncyt) and they share the history of science and technology in Spain. It’s a unique type of a science museum.

In citizen science, they have done a lot of work in awareness of the public to science and technology, and to keep public support for science investment. More recently they create a council of foundations for science – there wasn’t awareness of social foundations that haven’t invest in science and not only cultural activities. There are 3 foundations that are involved with the council and they are having a direct contact with the minister to develop this area of funding. The second initiative is crowdfunding for science – they help to carry out a campaign that helps in creating activities – it is also a tool of engagement.

Outreach is difficult – the council support policymakers and the general public is aware of the issues. So there are challenges – and that need to transform and how do we measure it? Some of the roles that the council need to do is to incentivise policymakers to understand what they want to achieve and then have indicators to assist in seeing that the goals are achieved. They participated in the process of policy recommendation about open science, and then translate that into action – for policymakers and society. In Fecyt they also provide resources: access to WoS/Scopus, evaluation of journals, standardised CV of researchers, and open science. Finally they participation in studies that look at measurements of science and the results

Discussion: Science Shops – are there examples that link to Maker spaces? Yes, there are examples of activities such as Public Lab but also the Living Knowledge network

Many societal engagements are not open science – they treat society as a separate entity: a struggle of making citizen science into open science – data remain closed. What are the aspects that lend themselves to open science and citizen science? – there are many definitions and there are different ways to define the two, but for example, the need to access publications, or the participation in the analysis of open data, or the production of open data, are all examples for an overlap.

Part of the discussion is about sharing knowledge, the part that says that researcher is like anyone else? There is a big difference between the scientific community and everyone else? The effort is not recognised in society and might you remove the prestige than no one would want to participate in science?

As you know, public interest – why the citizens want to participate in research? the citizens want the result of public research will help people to improve their quality of life. The science should address social problems.

How much people participate in – precipita is a new project and fund are not matched and they provide the technical help, and the promotion is through a campaign through different institutions

Should citizen science democratise science which is controversial – when information became more accessible as in Gutenberg, we are increasing the ability. Need to make citizen science a way to increase access to science.

How to get to integrated science into pockets and need to find a way to integrate these things together. There is a package that needs to support together: access, data, and public engagement and need to focus on them.

Citizen science needs to be integrated into all the science and needs to make results.

Session 5. Scientific Excellence re-visited

David Carr (Wellcome Trust, London, UK) Wellcome is committed to providing their research outputs – seeing it as part of good research practice. As a funder, they’ve had a long-standing policy on open accessing publications (since 2005) and other research outputs. Need to have also the costs of carrying out public engagement, and open access publications should be part of the funding framework. Also asking reviewers to recognise and value a wide range of research outputs. There are still need to think of reward and assessment structures, the sustaining of the infrastructures that are needed, and the need to create data specialists and managing the process to increase it. There are concerns by the research community about open access. Wellcome established open research team – looking at funder led and community-led activities, and also policy leadership. They now have the “ publishing platform” which is using F1000 platform, they also had the open science prize. They also look on policy leadership – e.g. the San Francisco DORA (declaration on research assessment). Also looking at changes to application forms to encourage other forms of outputs and then provide guidance to staff, reviewers and panel members. They also celebrate with applicants when they do open research, and also inform them about the criteria and options. They also carry out effort to evaluate if the open science indeed delivers on the promises through projects in different places – e.g. the McGill project.

Representation of the people in science: Women in civic and citizen science – event summary

Image of UCL and the speakers in the event

On the 19th March, as part of UCL activities to the that accompany the UCL Exhibition “Disruptors and Innovators: Journeys in gender equality at UCL”, we hosted a panel of talks on how to open up science and engineering to new audiences, especially the representation of women in science. The event was called “Representation of the people in science: Women in civic and citizen science“. The event was sponsored by the Doing It Together Science project.

The event was chaired by Dr Charlene Jennett, a researcher at UCL Interaction Centre. Charlene opened the evening with a short introductory talk on citizen science and her research into this fast-growing phenomenon. Introducing an all-female panel – pointing that this is an opportunity to welcome everyone to science through citizen science – you can go outside and observe nature, or if it is a cold evening, go online and participate in projects on the Zooniverse. There are even games that can be played to contribute to citizen science – The Sea Hero Quest is a project that contributes to dementia research through a game. Citizen science is creating collaboration between citizen and scientists, and we should see it as a way to link people to science.

Following Charlene, Dr Cindy Regalado from UCL Extreme Citizen Science introduced “Doing It Together Science” project.  This is EU funded project, and the people in the room are part of the project by joining the event. This project is special – the different people and organisations that are involved in it came together with the question “what do we want to do” and this created a group of special organisations. People in the project a passionate about doing science together – creating engagement space, curiosity and interest in biodesign and environmental sustainability. We do that through a range of events and also producing different tools and information that allow sharing knowledge between organisations. Facilitators across the projects are sharing information and work together to create many types of events – over 400 of them already. Examples of that include the work of University Paris Descartes (UPD) in Paris, they run activities to engage people to create games for science. In Poland, there are” train the trainers” activities to introduce other people about sustainability. In RBINS in Brussels, people who are excited about stick insect – scientists and amateurs share their interest. People in Medialab Prado run events that are two weeks long and create new ideas and innovations. In Geneva, a biofabrication event took place, bringing people who experiment with biotechnology. The Kersnikova Institute in Ljubljana explored in Freaktion bar issues of science and ethics – provoking questions instead of simple ideas of science. A Polish delegation visited London to learn about citizen participation in air quality monitoring, and at UCL we use Public Lab’s DIY tools for environmental monitoring and invite people to do DIY biological research – enabling people to see for themselves that they too can do science. Finally, the Science Bus toured Europe and allow us to reach out groups that are usually under-represented in science engagement activities.

The next talk was given by Dr Louise Seaward, Research Associate on the Bentham Project, will introduce us to the project and Gill Hague, one of the volunteer transcribers [See Louise report of the evening on the Transcribe Bentham blog]. Louise described the Transcribe Bentham project – a flagship humanities project at UCL where a significant number of the most active volunteers are women. The project asks volunteers to transcribe papers written by UCL’s intellectual inspiration, the philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). The project is about the writing of Jeremy Bentham. Transcribed Bentham launched in 2010 and is the first crowdsourcing project in humanities – the idea is to ask volunteers to type and transcribe papers. Volunteers worked for 7 years and almost 20,000 pages of writing. Transcribe Bentham show manuscripts by him, and volunteers are free to choose a paper and work on it. Some of them are very difficult – the handwriting is very bad and he made changes, crossing text, changing his mind. Within the project system, there are tools to markup side notes and very complex ways of marking the page. The project is creating happiness for scholars – the purpose is to create a scholarly edition of everything that he wrote – the project is running since 1959 and it’s not halfway through, this is also a resource to the wider community – allowing other people to learn about Bentham and his writing. Most of the work done by around 30 super-transcribers and they are finding the project interesting. Currently, 58% of participants are men. People have higher education and based in the UK and US. Gill then described her experience with the project – she had a career in IT, TV, and legal services, and as a freelancer working from home, she had to be available at a call and wanted something more interesting to pass the time than watching daytime television.

By Cindy Regalado

In 2011 logged on to learn more about crowdsourcing which was new at the time following an article in the Sunday Times that mentioned the project, and she saw the value in Bentham writing based on previous knowledge in economics and in legal work. She then set out to transcribe one page, and then found the content very interesting, with journeys unfolding and Bentham views on the experience. Having involved in the legal process for a long time, she found Bentham views on legal issues interesting. She can find it as something that she can join more or less as much as she can and interested to do – sometimes 10-15 hours in a week. She very much like the idea of getting an acknowledgement in the next edition of Bentham publication and that is very satisfying. Transcribing is fascinating and there is good feedback and response from the team.

Jo Hurford, local artist and community leader, was part of a group of concerned citizens to approach UCL’s Extreme Citizen Science department to learn how to gather scientific data about deteriorating air quality and further environmental concerns in the context of HS2 development around Euston station. Jo opened up and noted that people who attend UCL have good opportunity to learn new things – and the work that UCL and Mapping for Change are doing with community groups has been mentioned in the report by the chief medical officer recently. The experience of the Euston communities is showing the limitations of citizen science approaches but also the new lessons that are learned from it. The community members knew about air quality issues from reading the news – they suspect that they were living in a polluted part of London – and experienced a building site for 3 years already. They wanted to have a baseline of air quality while the HS2 bill passing through parliament and wanted to know more about it. The community wanted to keep trees in the area of Euston until HS2 have a clear plan for the development of the area. The campaign to try to protect the trees fails. However, using the construction routes they positioned diffusion tubes and found that half of the monitoring locations were above the EU regulation. There are projects with big impact on the area (e.g. making Gower St two way) and they learn through citizen science and tested the particulate matter and seen that air purifiers do work in filtering them – so they ask for air filters for residents that are badly affected by the change to the plan. There are discoveries through collaborations with UCL – for example, Google Scholar is new, but the information that you get from academic publications is overwhelming, and she contacted specific people and look at different academic papers and use them to show the link between poor air and the health impact. When they spoke to HS2 in the House of Lords they used some of their information, but they weren’t convinced by the argument. Because people in power don’t listen to communities, and they have created scarves on trees and explaining the different trees in an area that doesn’t have enough green spaces. They protested against the tree panel of HS2 – they ignore personal views. The community transport working group suggested alternative schemes, but at the middle of the night, the HS2 contractors cut the trees. They organised painting of the cut off trees, and campaigning toward Sadiq Kahn – they did different activities – from chaining to trees to demonstration next to the GLA building. We need to participate in democracy and participate in science – we need to use it to bring evidence and to be listened to.

Next, Dr Alice Bell, science writer and director of communications at climate charity 10:10, drawn on her research on the radical science movement to discuss science activism and community-based research in the 1970s and 80s. Alice has a double interest – day job in addressing climate change through energy issue and hobby interest in the history of science, that talk about similar things: citizen participation in science and technology. In the 1970s we’ve seen the radical science that can be related to citizen science. Today people create DIY solar panels and creating DIY solar panels from the offcuts from solar panels and with some crafting, you can make your own and learn about it. Community events – making is connecting: people doing something together mean that they also talk about other things. Back to the 1970s, she discovered about civic science from the material that came out of clear up at the university library and found the “science for people” – magazines that were produced in the UK. One interesting example is the women’s collective issue that points to the problems that women experience in science with snakes and ladders that help male scientists and work against female scientists. Maybe the public don’t like science and technology because they have a reason – ideas about fixing science to make it batter. As a result, there were projects that are about citizen science. In the 1970s, Battersea air smell was rancid, and there are very little records of it (the Battersea smell) – the radical science group carried out a survey about the smell and the local council said that they can’t smell anything. The group helped citizens to collect evidence. The Sheffield occupational health group provided the ability to build and construct evidence – lots of groups didn’t have the ability to create the evidence that can be used about issues in the workplace. Today, in 10:10, there are projects to help communities and people to access energy and this is a way to do something about climate change: if you dismiss schools as places of social interaction, you miss a major site of activity. We can do these things not only top down through forcing people – we need to shift it in a way that worth saving and a place that community participate. There are examples of people that become experts and developing ideas about using unused energy to the train – new ways of powering electric trains through solar energy. This happens because a local community got interested in setting out energy system in a school and then developed their ideas further.

The last speaker was Professor Sarah Bell, director of Engineering Exchange. Sarah’s talk was as follows: “I’m here because of my work with the Engineering Exchange at UCL, which is about providing opportunities for better engagement between engineering researchers and local communities in London. We work on a model of two-way engagement. The Engineering Exchange give a pro-bono engineering service and we work with community groups and engineers to generate new research projects together. We’ve covered topics such as demolition and refurbishment of social housing, green infrastructure, air quality, traffic congestion.
Our work is relevant to tonight’s discussion for a few reasons. Firstly, I’m a woman, as are many of the people I work with. Secondly, engineering is vitally important to democracy in a complex technological society. And finally, there seems to be a connection between opening up engineering to women and opening it up to the wider public.
Firstly, I am a woman, and I lead a programme at a research-intensive university that is doing some form of what might be called civic science, or indeed civic engineering.
Which inevitably brings me to civil engineering. I’ve just recently become a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, the oldest professional engineering institution in the world. The ICE is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, so is 100 years older than women’s suffrage in this country.
The first woman to be admitted to the ICE was Dorothy Donaldson Buchanan in 1927, 9 years after the ‘Representation of the People Act’, which we are talking about tonight, and 8 years after the 1919 ‘Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act’. It was the 1919 Act that meant they could go to university and enter the professions. It became illegal to disqualify anyone from entering a ‘civil profession or vocation, or admission into any incorporated society’ on the basis of sex or marriage. It is not a coincidence that access to education and the professions followed on so quickly from the right to vote. They are equally, if not more, important to democracy. And so in the 1920s Dorothy Donaldson Buchanan could earn her BS in Civil Engineering at Edinburgh University, sit the entry exams for the ICE and join the engineering profession.
And haven’t we moved a long way since Dorothy’s time? No. Not really. Only 9% of all engineers in the UK are women. I am one of only 2% of the Fellows of the ICE who are women. In its 200 year anniversary, 12% of Members and 2% of Fellows of the Institution of Civil Engineers are women.
I’m one of the 2%. Which is actually significant – personally and strategically. For most of my career, I’ve wondered if I was really an engineer. I’ve always struggled a bit on the edges of the profession. But now, there’s no doubt. I am mainstream. You don’t get more mainstream than Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers. It’s nice to have my own work recognised in this way, but it is even more important for the work itself. The Engineering Exchange, which we might call civic engineering, is civil engineering. This is not some radical, outsider practice, it’s mainstream.
And that’s how we’ve positioned ourselves. The Engineering Exchange takes a very conservative line. We are not activists. We are engineers and researchers. As academics, we are encouraged to work with industry and government – the people with power and money. I’ve always pitched the Engineering Exchange as supporting the third leg of the stool of democracy – the public who are impacted by decisions by industry and government. Our basic premise is that by widening access to engineering knowledge, we will improve the overall quality of democratic debate about technical issues. The engineering profession claims to serve the public, so we provide a mechanism for engineers to do that.
And I often wonder is there a connection between my gender and the work I choose to do. This has been a long-standing question for me. I am Professor of Environmental Engineering. Around half of my undergraduate cohort in Australia back in the 1990s were women, and here at UCL, I ran an MSc programme in Environmental Systems Engineering that had consistently more than 50% women. Even given the low numbers of women in the profession, within engineering, women tend to cluster around particular specialisms, which might be related to why we end up more engaged in civic facing work. In the case of environmental engineering, given the public value of what we do, there’s a logical progression from working on environmental issues to engaging with the public in citizen and civic science programmes.
So why is there this clustering of women in public facing engineering? I don’t know the answer. It can’t be because ‘women are nurturing and caring’. It might be because of that outsider experience I mentioned, which operates in two ways – firstly to exclude women from more conventional career paths, and secondly to make us more aware of others who are excluded from the structures of power that operate in our society. If you are in the middle of the engineering establishment, with all the other powerful men, you are less likely to see those on the margins. They are just not in your field of vision. If you are hanging around the edges, you might make friends with others on the outside, and build your own career accordingly. As a woman, I’ve developed a critical framing of my own professional experience in order to stay sane, and this critical framing of my profession has opened up creative possibilities that may be less obvious to those who are actively embraced by conventional constructions of engineering.
So the Engineering Exchange is doing engineering differently. The good news is that the engineering establishment recognises our value. Our budget and our achievements are modest, we are much less powerful than the big firms and government departments. But we are able to do interesting work in partnership with communities, and in our own way are contributing to opening up a very powerful way of knowing the world to wider publics and local communities. ”

Some of the issues that came through the Q&A session:

Louise pointing to that Bentham material available online and in some ways he is showing his forward thinking. Gill has found information in the Sunday Times, and then followed it – and the website said that anyone can do it, and doesn’t need to ask for permission. Sometimes there is interesting correspondence that describes the social history and brings history to life and make this real and it is enjoyable and serving the purpose. She didn’t find the technology problematic and her background in law and IT helped in getting going.

Science for People that jump out – how much work done about what it is to be scientists and how they started looking at the option of co-operative science: instead of the very hierarchical structures – everyone is equal and co-manage each other. Then have community-based cooperative laboratories,. Thinking about the workers in science – cleaners, administrative, and everyone to make it

There was also a question about reaching different populations, including people in jail. Also about the collaborations across disciplines and the nature of expertise.

And at the end, Cindy carried out a quick evaluation of the evening

Learning from the Arava Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research workshop

DSCN2472The Eilot region, near Eilat in Israel, is considered locally as a remote part of the Negev desert in Israel (it is about 3.5h drive from the population centres of Tel Aviv). It is an arid desert, with very sparse population – about 4000 people who live in communal settlements – mostly kibbutzim in an area of 2650 sq km (about the area of Luxembourg. This is a very challenging place for Western-style human habitation, in an area with a fragile desert ecosystem. The region and the Arava Institute at the centre of it, provided the stage for a workshop on Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research (LTSER) network with participants from the European network and supported by the eLTER H2020 project. LTER and LTSER are placed-based research activities that are led from the ecological perspective, with the latter integrating social aspects as an integral part of its inquiry and research framework.

The workshop run from 4-8 March on location, which allowed the immersion into the issues of the place, as well as exchanging experiences and views across the different “platforms” (the coordination bodies for the different sites that are used for LTSER research). While the people who are involved in the network were mostly familiar with one another, I was the external guest – invited to provide some training and insight into the way citizen science can be used in this type of research.

Its been over 21 years since I’ve been in this place – which I visited several times from my childhood to my late 20s. With a long experience of living in the UK, I felt like an outsider-insider – I can understand many of the cultural aspects while, at the same time, bringing my thinking and practice that is shaped through my work at UCL over this period. Also in disciplinary terms, I was outsider-insider – I’m interested in ecology, and with citizen science, linked to many people and activities in this area of research – however, I’m not an ecologist (leaving aside what exactly is my discipline). Because of that, I am aware of their framework, research questions, and issues (e.g. limited funding and marginalisation in science and research policy) which helped me in understanding the discussion and participating in it.

Visiting the area, discussing the social and ecological aspects, and progressing on a range of concepts, brought up several reflections that I’m outlining here:

DSCN2468First is the challenge of sustainability and sustainable development in such an area. It was quite telling that the head of the region, who is an active scientist, was pointing out that they want to have progressive development, and not exactly sustainable development. As we visited and travelled through the area, the challenges of achieving sustainability – with a wish for limited demographic growth and economic development that will ensure the high quality of life that the communities carve in a hostile environment can continue. This means attracting younger people who want to be part of the specific kibbutz community (the average age in the current settlement is quite high); bringing in commercial activities that match the characteristics of the area without altering them hugely – such as renewable energy activities (the area is already receiving 70% of energy from renewable energy during the day), agriculture (the area is a large producer of Medjool dates), and tourism (a new airport is about to be finished for flights from Europe); and all this while paying attention to the environmental and natural aspects of the area.

Second, the importance of cultural shaping of human-environment relationship in the area. The social organisation, the focus on agriculture (in addition to the dates there is an important milk dairy in ), and a strong belief in the power of technology to offer solutions to emerging problems stood out as major drivers of the way things happen. Each Kibbutz have a specific culture, which influences its social and operational characteristics so each is making collective decisions according to the specific organisation, and this has an environmental impact – for example, with the increase in heat due to climate change it must be that Yotveta, with a big herd of milk cows that are maintained in the desert conditions, is facing tougher challenges – and we heard from Ketura who made the decision not to maintain their herd. The impact here is an increasing use of water to cool the cows, not to mention that need to bring the feed from outside, I’d guess through Eilat port which is a short drive away. The agriculture is important in both the general ethos of the Kibbutz movement, but also significant economic income – and at the moment the dates are suitable in terms of the income that they provide. The way technological optimism is integrated into this vision is especially interesting and was pointed out by several participants. Several local presenters (some of them decision makers) mentioned that the region wants to be “silicon valley of renewable energy” and there is already rapid development of various solar energy schemes in different settlements, a research centre, and the cadaver of Better Place battery replacement station, but clearly nothing on the scale of say, Masdar Institute or anything similar in terms of the scale and R&D effort, so it is not clear what is standing behind this phrase. It seems more like a beacon of energy independence of some sort, and the provision of energy to the nearby city of Eilat as a source of income. The local presentation and discussions show a strong “frontier” conceptualisation of a personal and collective role, and this comes first in term of the relationship with the environment. The result is odd – organic palm dates which are planted next to fragile sand dunes, and with issues with waste management…

DSCN2431Third, it was not surprising to hear about citizen science activities in the area, including a recent winter bird survey that was initiated by several environmental bodies in the area, and which includes the use of Esri Survey123 forms to collect data in several specific sites, by providing the participants shelter and food during a weekend and which had excellent results. The area is perfect for citizen science activities – it got a highly educated population, large areas of nature reserves, very good mobile connectivity even off the roads, and environmental awareness (even if actions are contradictory). It is also a critical place for migrating bird, and there is a small visitors and research park near Eilat. At least from the point of view of LTSER, there’s a potential for a range of activities that can cater for local and for tourists.

Fourth, it was interesting to have discussions about citizen science that moved well beyond concerns over data quality (although I did have some of those too – as expected!). Amongst ecologists, the term citizen science is familiar, though not the full range of possibilities and issues. There were many questions about potential cross sites projects, recruitment and maintaining work with participants, creating new projects, and even using the results from citizen science in policy processes and gaining legitimacy.

Fifth, and something that I think worth exploring further – I couldn’t escape the thought that it will be very interesting to compare the kibbutz social and cultural organisation over time with open source and open knowledge projects. A concern that we heard through the visit is about the need for demographic growth but with very specific and testing conditions for anyone who wants to join – beyond the challenging environmental conditions. There is a fascinating mix of strong ideological motivations (settling the desert, leaving in communal settings, doing agriculture in the desert) with actions that are about comfort and quality of life, and as a result, concern about the ageing of the core population many of them from the founding generation. I can see parallels with open knowledge projects such as  OpenStreetMap, or citizen science projects, where you hear two contradictory statements at one – a wish to bring more people on, combined with a strong demand for commitment, and practical barriers to entry, which as a result create a stable core community which slowly age…

The workshop was summarised graphically by Aya Auerbach, in the following way.


From environmental management to organisational strategy development: Using Drivers-Pressure-State-Impact-Response with ECSA

This week, together with Margaret Gold, I facilitated a strategy meeting of the European Citizen Science Association.31520287784_20489a734e At the moment, because a recent lecture in the Introduction to Citizen Science and Scientific Crowdsourcing course that was dedicated to environmental citizen science, the “Driving forces-Pressures-State-Impacts -Responses” (DPSIR) is in the front of my mind. In addition, next week I’ll participate in a workshop about Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research (LTSER) where I would discuss citizen science in another context where DPSIR is a common framework.

However, if you are not familiar with large-scale environmental management, where it is widely used since the mid-1990s,  you’re not expected to know about it. It got its critics, but continue to be considered as an important policy tool. DPSIR start by thinking about driving forces – trends or mega-trends that are influencing the ecosystem that you’re looking at. The drivers lead to specific pressures, for example, pollution or habitat fragmentation. To understand the pressures, we need to monitor and understand the state of the system – this is lots of time where citizen science and sensing data are used. Next, we can understand the potential impacts and then think of policy responses. So far, hopefully clear? You can read more about DPSIR here.

I haven’t come across the use of DPSIR outside the environmental area (but maybe there is?). However, as I was thinking about it, as we prepared for the meeting, I suggested that we give it a go as a way to consider strategic actions and work for ECSA. It turns out that DPSIR is a very good tool for organisational development! It allowed us to have a 20 minutes session in which we could think about external trends, and then translate them into a concrete action. Here is an example (made up, of course, I can’t disclose details from a facilitated meeting…). I’m marking positive things, from the point of view of the organisation, as (+) and negative as (-).

Let’s think of a citizen science coordination society (CitScCoSo). in terms of drivers, an example will be “increase recognition of citizen science”, as Google Trends chart shows. Next, there are the pressures which include (-) the growth in other organisations that are dedicated to citizen science and compete with CitScCoSo, which mean that it will need to work harder to maintain its position, (+) increase in requests to participate in activities, projects, meetings, talks etc which will create opportunity to raise profile and recognition. CitScCoSo current state can be that the organisation is funded for 5 more years and have a little spare capacity for other activities. The impacts can be (+) more opportunities for research funding and collaborations or, (-) demand for more office space for CitScCoSo (-) lack of IT infrastructure for internal organisational processes. Finally, all this analysis can help CitScCoSo in response – securing funding for more employees or a plan for growth.

When you do that on a flipchart with 5 columns for the DPSIR element, it becomes a rapid and creative process for people to work through.

As I pointed, a short exercise with ECSA board showed that this can work, and I hope that the outcomes are helpful to the organisation. I will be interested to hear if anyone else know of alternative applications of DPSIR…


Participatory soundscape sensing – joint paper with Dr Chunming Li

One of the lovely aspects of scientific research is its international dimension – the opportunity to collaborate with people from different places, cultures, and necessarily practices and points of view.

PSSonline-CMLiDuring 2017, Dr Chnming Li, of the Institute of Urban Environment of the Chinese Academy of Science, was a visiting researcher in ExCiteS. Dr Li research is on participatory sensing and the development of sensors and applications for the urban environment. We collaborated on a paper that described the Participatory Soundscape Sensing project that he is developing, with an app on Android mobile phones, called SPL Meter, that is used to carry out the participatory sensing.

One demonstration that culture matter is in the app request for classification of sound as “harmonious” – a qualification of the sound in the right place, such as traffic noise on the road, or birds in the park. This is a quality that I haven’t encountered in studies in Europe or USA.

The paper is: “Li, C., Liu, Y., and Haklay, M., 2018, Participatory soundscape sensing, Landscape and Urban Planning 173: 64-69

Here is the abstract of the paper, and a link to the paper itself:

“Soundscape research offers new ways to explore the acoustic environment and potentially address challenges. A comprehensive understanding of soundscape characteristics and quality requires efficient data collection and analysis methods. This paper describes Participatory Soundscape Sensing (PSS), a worldwide soundscape investigation and evaluation project. We describe the calibration method for sound pressure levels (SPL) measured by mobile phone, analyze the PSS’s data temporal-spatial distribution characteristics, and discuss the impact of the participants’ age and gender on the data quality. Furthermore, we analyze the sound comfort level relationships
with each class of land use, sound sources, subjective evaluation, sound level, sound harmoniousness, gender, and age using over a year of shared data. The results suggest that PSS has distinct advantages in enhancing the amount and coverage of soundscape data. The PSS data distribution is closely related to the temporal pattern of the human work-rest schedule, population density, and the level of cyber-infrastructure. Adults (19–40 years old) are higher-quality data providers, and women exhibit better performance with respect to data integrity than men. Increasing the proportion of natural source sounds and reducing the proportion of humanmade sources of sound is expected to enhance the sound comfort level. A higher proportion of sound harmoniousness
leads to higher sound comfort, and the higher proportion of subjective evaluation sound level does not lead to decreased sound comfort. We suggest that the crowdsourcing data with participatory sensing will provide a new perspective in soundscape investigation, evaluation, and planning.”

The paper is available on ScienceDirect or also here