Defining principles for mobile apps and platforms development in citizen science

Core concepts of apps, platforms and portals for citizen science

In December 2016, ECSA and the Natural History Museum in Berlin organised a  workshop on analysing apps, platforms, and portals for citizen science projects. Now, the report from the workshop with an addition from a second workshop that was held in April 2017 has evolved into an open peer review paper on RIO Journal.

The workshops and the paper came to life thanks to the effort of Soledad Luna and Ulrike Sturm from the Berlin Museum.

RIO is worth noticing: is “The Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO) journal” and what it is trying to offer is a way to publish outputs of the whole research cycle – from project proposals to data, methods, workflows, software, project reports and the rest. In our case, the workshop report is now open for comments and suggestions. I’ll be interested to see if there will be any…

The abstract reads:

Mobile apps and web-based platforms are increasingly used in citizen science projects. While extensive research has been done in multiple areas of studies, from Human-Computer Interaction to public engagement in science, we are not aware of a collection of recommendations specific for citizen science that provides support and advice for planning, design and data management of mobile apps and platforms that will assist learning from best practice and successful implementations. In two workshops, citizen science practitioners with experience in mobile application and web-platform development and implementation came together to analyse, discuss and define recommendations for the initiators of technology based citizen science projects. Many of the recommendations produced during the two workshops are applicable to non-mobile citizen science project. Therefore, we propose to closely connect the results presented here with ECSA’s Ten Principles of Citizen Science.

and the paper can be accessed here. 

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New paper: Associations for Citizen Science: Regional Knowledge, Global Collaboration

When the new journal about Citizen Science established, one of the articles that the editorial team thought should be included is a paper that describe the development of associations dedicated to the practice of citizen science. There are now several of these: the Citizen Science Association (CSA), the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA), and the Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA).

Following the Citizen Science 2015 conference, under the guidance of Martin Storksdieck, a Professor at the College of Education and School of Public Policy in 
Oregon State University, we set out to write the paper. The end results is a paper that discusses the need for organisations that deal with citizen science and the specific directions that each organisation adopted in order to address the local social, political, and scientific situation in which it evolved.

The abstract read: “Since 2012, three organizations advancing the work of citizen science practitioners have arisen in different regions: The primarily US-based but globally open Citizen Science Association (CSA), the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA), and the Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA). These associations are moving rapidly to establish themselves and to develop inter-association collaborations. We consider the factors driving this emergence and the significance of this trend for citizen science as a field of practice, as an area of scholarship, and for the culture of scientific research itself.”

Here is the paper itself Storksdieck, M. et al., (2016). Associations for Citizen Science: Regional Knowledge, Global Collaboration. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice.. 1(2), p.10. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/cstp.55

ECSA2016 ThinkCamp Challenge: how can Overleaf support collaborative writing between academics and citizen scientists?

Overleaf, ThinkCamp Challenge, collaborative writing – lots of jargon for a title – so let’s start by explaining them and I then cover what happened (that’s an Abstract).

Background – what are Overleaf, ThinkCamp, and Challenge? (Introduction)

Overleaf  is a scientific technology company that offer a collaborative environment for writing scientific papers. Overlaf is based on LaTeX  – a typesetting software that is popular in many disciplines – Computer Science, Physics, Mathematics, Statistics, Engineering, Economics, Linguistics and other DSC_0315fields. Importantly, Overleaf simplifies the scientific writing process by providing templates that scientific journals use, support for collaboration, adding comments, and other tools that make it easy to write academic papers. LaTeX is complex to use, and Overleaf is aimed at facilitating the process of learning and using it in academic writing. Overleaf was a sponsor of the European Citizen Science Association conference ThinkCamp, so together with them we developed a challenge . So let’s explain what is ThinkCamp before turning to the challenge.

A ThinkCamp, is a type of open events that are associated with the  ‘unconference’ approach, which in our context mean taking a part of an academic conference and opening it up to anyone who want to step forward and explore a topic that came up during the conference, or that they have been working on it for a while. Particularly for ThinkCamp, the activity is structured around discussion/exploration groups that are provided space to write, draw and share ideas. The themes are called ‘Challenges’. Some of the themes are offered in advance by people who are coming to the conference, and there is usually space for people to suggest their ideas on the day.  The day starts with a one minute description of each challenge. Even with the planned challenges, those who proposed them can’t say much about them, and they are looking for the collective intelligence of those who are interested in the topic to explore it. In effect, ThinkCamp is multiple brainstormDSCN1625ing and idea generation events happening in the same space. People can move between groups, drop in and out, and contribute as little or as much as they want. A Challenge can be physical or require programming, but can also be purely based on discussion. For the ECSA 2016 ThinkCamp, the conference organisers invited the local Berlin grassroots science & maker communities to collaborate together with conference attendees on a number of Citizen Science Challenges.

What was the challenge? (Methodology)

For this specific challenge, we defined it as ‘The Overleaf Collaborative Writing Challenge – How can Overleaf support collaborative writing between academics
and citizen scientists?‘. The focus here is on scientific papers that are coming out of a citizen science project. It is now becoming more common to include citizen scientists as co-authors in the title of the paper. However, can they have more direct involvement in the process of writing so they are more involved in the scientific process? This was the ‘research question’ (more accurately, idea) for the session.

wp-1463894715220.jpgWe had a table, and two session, each of about hour and a half. In each session, about 6 or 8 people joined me, with one person staying for both session (Artemis Skarlatidou), and other people joining for parts or the whole discussion (among them Alison Parker, Avinoam Baruch, Berk Anbaroglu, Christian Nold,  Denise Gameiro,  Jon Van Oast, Julia Aletebuchner, Libby Helpburn, Lotta Tomasson, Sultan Kocaman, and surely several other people). We had a table with a poster, which included information about the challenge.

Although we have looked briefly at the Overleaf system during the beginning of the discussion, it expanded very quickly to the core issues of collaboration between scientists and citizen scientists on writing paper together.

What did we talked about? (Results)

I have attempted to facilitate the discussion while allowing people to raise their point and discuss them at length. As usual, some discussion points led to other discussion points. During the three hours, we filled about 4 flip-chart pages, which are provided below (Figure 1).

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Figure 1: Flip-chart of discussion point (click to enlarge)

So what did we discussed?

We refined our problem, and decided that our assumption is a situation where a scientist initiate the paper and lead the process of writing, but in collaboration with citizen scientists. Of course, papers that are led by citizen scientists are very important, but as with many prototyping activities, we wanted to start with a scenario that make the problem less hard – at least one of the members of the team will know what is expected in terms of the publication process. There are many citizen scientists that already publish (e.g. astronomy, biological recording – see diary of a citizen scientist which in the last pages describe the scientific outcome of her work), but we’re talking about the general case, and I still recall how daunting the first paper feel, and I also know how special it feel to have the first paper published (it’s one of the precious things of working with PhD students), so let’s assume that we’re talking about first paper, with someone helping.

The topmost issue is to explain to citizen scientists why a peer review paper is a worthwhile effort  – some websites and systems (e.g. Public Lab research notes) are offering alternatives to academic publication – however, having a peer review can increase the value of the work in terms of policy impact, authority and other aspects. What are the exact reasons for people to join in? this is something that we need to understand more.

DSCN1625We started with the components of paper: introduction, literature review, methodology, results… and the need to understand why they are there and how to understand them. There is the AAAS website that helps in learning how to read an academic paper. Some tips are also available in other places – and that there are so much material online to teach people how to read scholarly articles, tell you that it’s not a trivial task! For this, we can also research and identify material on library websites that teach undergraduate students how to read and write scientific papers, and choose the best resources for citizen scientists. We need to indicate that some effort is required, but also chunk the learning material. Having pop-ups and context specific help to a section of the paper, and, as Overleaf already do, have the sections with place-holder in place.

Once people learned what is the aim of the project and the components of an academic paper, we need a way for people to show which part they would like to contribute to – maybe they want to comment on the methodology and not on other parts (so we might have a matrix linking people with parts of the paper). Further discussion lead to the main insight of the discussion: We can split the roles that are needed in academic paper writing, and allow people to decide what they want to do. The roles include: authoring text, fact checking, reference checking, chart and graph design, map design, translation, checking for comprehension, proofreading, reviewing, checking the statics for mistakes and possibly more. We can think of a system to match between skills and task – like PeerWith but there are problems: first, we should do it inside the project, and be careful not to get into exploitation and undermining freelance editors, proofreader, graphic designers etc. There is, of course, huge advantage for engaging people from within the project – they will do the work from a much more informed position. Consider projects with many thousands of volunteers (OpenStreetMap, Zooniverse, BOINC) – it is possible to link the multiple skills of participants to the many scientists who are involved in different projects and might want to work collaboratively on papers. Under these conditions – we will have major issues of trust by all sides, and confidence by the citizen scientists that they can contribute. We need interfaces nudges and support to overcome these. We need to clearly communicate what are the aspects of the role, compensation & benefits (e.g. authorship, payment?).

Back to the process of writing the different sections of the paper, we can give elements of training to contributors, according to how much they want to commit and how much time they’ve got. Probably it make sense to do micro-training with expanding levels of information.

We need to consider how we open up papers and material that sit behind a pay-wall to allow citizen scientists to be involved in a meaningful way.

We can also consider a gradual process, where there is a pre-writing stage in which we agree the narrative, order, and images that will be used – we can use accessible language to sort out the list – e.g. ‘what is the problem?’ (for the introduction); ‘what do we know?’ (literature review); or ‘what have we done?’ (for the methodology). We can think of the paper as the final object, and have a structure to support its development through sub-objects.

wp-1463894724971.jpgThe second major insight of the session was the introduction of a role for science communication experts, as facilitators between citizen scientists and scientists. The process will need a lot of communication, and we need to link to tools for managing chats (instant messaging), calls and maybe video. The volunteers need to be mentors and get feedback, so improvement of skills. 

We explored what each side bring to the equation: citizen scientists – skills, knowledge and they gain experience in writing a paper and having a scientific publication with their name on. Science communicators – translation between scientists and citizen scientists, ability to explain why paper is valuable, what are the parts of the paper and why things happen the way they are. They gain by being employed with an active role in the process. Scientists benefits by having lots of help on their paper, and they need to act as mentors and cover the publication fees (assuming open access).

What next? (discussion and conclusions)

ThinkCampMukiWe realised that this is complex process that will need plenty of effort to make it happen, but that it is possible to facilitate with Web tools. There are plenty of open issues, and it might be an idea to develop a small research/public engagement project on the basis of these ideas. If you have ideas, comments and suggestions – please help us! 

ECSA2016: Open Citizen Science – Day 3

After a busy first  days – Day 1 (morning and afternoon) and Day 2 (morning and afternoon), the third day was dedicated to engagement – through museums, games and story telling; responsibility – through frameworks of responsible research and innovation, proper data handling and making a scientific impact, and finally to active engagement in discussion through a ThinkCamp.

The day opened with a keynote Co-designing research projects: Citizen science meets stakeholder involvement (Heribert Hofer IZW Berlin, Germany) – Exploring stakeholders in citizen science, examples of co-design projects in ecology/conservation science. Looking at impacts on attitudes and behaviours of stakeholders. Challenges and limitations of co-designed projects, but why aren’t more of them?

Stakeholders as citizen scientists – stakeholders are people who are representative of nterest group, and are citizen scientists by definition. The participate through interest in the issue, and they are expert from some kind – the interests that they represent. The example is conflicts of interest in conservation – say lead poisoning of eagles – but there are many stakeholders – hunters, reserves etc. Participations can be collecting data, cooperation, implementation of own ideas – co-design. If you want to co-design a project, that is essential to ask them before the project start. Example for bushmeat hunting in Tanzania (1991), cheetahs in Namibia (2002) and many more. The Bushmeat hunting in the Serengeti looked at issues such as who, where, how much, why and impacts on many species within a year. Wanted to evaluate the efficacy of the conservation approach. They didn’t look at the species but the hunters and poachers – realising that people move close to the park and identified very large number of poachers – almost 18,000. There are 3.7 hunting trips (1-36) and gained an understanding of the activity. Cheetahs in Namibia because they live in farmland, but then the farmers hunting cheetahs as sport. They looked how many cheetahs are there, and that require access to many private farms. Involved farmers in the radio-collaring of cheetah so they are involved in the process. Involving farmers does create a challenge – need to have communication. Through working with farmers, they managed to move the cattle to match cheetahs movement. They turned farmers as partners. There are clear advantages – learning about cheetah mean that attitudes change and trapping cheetahs only to tag them. In egg collection project, they manage to social control. For the lead poisoning, there is a need to teach people to use lead-free alternatives for hunting.

Stakeholder participation solves many challenges. Recruitment
, rewards, data and getting the data in the first place. The stakeholders approach require systematic recruitment, understanding interests and understand biases. The challenges: developing social skills, flexibility, patience, and sales mentality of convincing people to join you – communicating with not necessarily friendly audience. Need to answer critical questioning on project aims and methods – it’s tough. Limitations – lack of training on how to learn by doing and picking up people with appropriate attitude. Also how to deal with stakeholders refusal to participate, and dealing with biased data – the data is interest driven not by the seeking the truth. Why aren’t more co-designed projects? First, scientists are driven by ivory tower mentality – make society relevant research worthwhile. Secondly, solving societal issues is less valuable than the academic agenda -because of the reward system in academia (need to change indicators of excellence). There is also lack of knowledge and confidence, which can be solved by training. There are also low expectation – attitude of arrogance. There is also no-time/money for the early studies. There are some challenging projects on the offing: for example TB in refugees – there are many medical profession, and including people to which questions that can be done. This bring the problem of scientists concern about loss of control. Co-design can lead to attitudes and behaviour change of stakeholders. There are limitations – scientists need further qualifications.

wp-1463894682861.jpgCitizen Science and the role of museums facilitated by: Zen Makuch & Poppy Lakeman-Fraser. The panel represent the natural history museums in important countries – and they can think of the many people that visit the museums.
Johannes Vogel Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Germany. Natural History museum and the public – this is the result of the work Sloane and he open this collection to the nation – this is something for everyone, this led to the British Museum, which evolved in the NHM in London. For 200-300 years, museums are about giving access to the public. When museums employ more professional, mean that there is a global scientific infrastructure, with curators focusing on research. With citizen science, we can revert back to a model of re-opening the museum to the public. An NHM can have 30,000 people contributing  to its collection – 550,000 visitors, place where people love to see science in action. They came out of citizen science and should include it more.

Gregoire Lois, Natural History Museum Paris, Museum are based on academic collaboration – the collection are from non-professional (which can be experts) and professionals. Moving from arrogance and snootiness towards non-professional researchers, to higher engagement and focus on that – the civic science agenda in France was not accepted by other scientists. Because citizen science cross-cut the missions of the museum there is more acceptance, but there is more work to do. The museum created ‘museum approved’ citizen science – but that have a risk of new ivory tower, so it is better to have evolutionary approach – so that is why they don’t apply labels. Citizen science have costs, and they have support from the ministry of environment, but not from research and education – no recognition to citizen science, they prefer to wait. They are starting to have bottom-up approach.
Wolfgang Wägele Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig Bonn, Germany.  Experience in taxonomy, there is little potential of biodiversity research in Germany – they actually looking for citizen taxonomists in the country, they are usually organised in small associations and organisations. The organised science doesn’t have ability. They created a German bar-code of life project that is used to support small societies and 250 experts that are volunteers. It was challenging to engage – there was fear of replacing expertise, but what they explain is to make identification of species – but this doesn’t replace local expertise. There was also issue of exploitation – of who get the credit. They developed a reward system – paying for specimens that are given by the participants, they also teach participants how to use new tools that small societies don’t have access to. Citizen science which combines traditional way of identification with molecular approach. They also organised permit to search in national parks, which they wouldn’t

wp-1463894697068.jpgAndrea Sforzi (Natural History Museum Maremma, Italy) Small museum role in citizen science. He is leading a small museum, starting in 2011, but now it is one of the main activities – MNHM doing bio-blitz activities to engage people in the museum. They do recording, bio-blitzes, training courses for citizens and national survey. They produced maps, scientific papers and maps. For small museum, there is good local knowledge and contacts locally. The weaknesses are lack of funds and personnel, networking sometimes

John Tweddle (The Natural History Museum London, UK). The London NHM – 5 million visitors a year. They are going through the cultural transformation that Johanes mentioned, and making citizen science central to the mission. They have support to observers, mass participation, online crowdsourcing, enabling projects and how to encourage more citizen science activities through the galleries and activities – turning the NHM to a gateway to science. Why do that? Funding is very tough. It generate high impact science, deepening engagement with the science and collection – turning from passive to active, enabling engagement with science outside the museum, and help people to connect with nature. Finally, this helps in advocacy and funding.

Discussion: Poppy: what is the future – key strategies for NHMs. John – advocacy for citizen science, and making it acceptance. Johanes – in university or research insitute – you do science and teach, while museum are there to do science and communicate, which scientists are not experience with. Andrea – museum can play a role within their own space – exhibitions about citizen science, engaging people from within the museum. Wolfgang – the participants don’t like to be called amateurs but they are experts. These societies are ageing and they have an opportunity to recruit younger members instead of members that are 40-50, male. They don’t have enough experts in the museum itself. Gregorie – need to have large varieties.

Audience – are there project in which citizen scientists involved in designing exhibitions? Joahnes – in Berlin they done project with Pandas, in the last 30 days of the exhibition, they had an empty a cabinet, and ask  people to bring their objects on people’s memory of Pandas. Difficult to do the whole lengthy process of two years. John – designing exhibition properly it is a lengthy process and see which bit should include whom. Wolfgang – they provide specific space for citizen photographers and that works well.

Audience – contacts with eastern European museums and initiatives? Johaness – in EU BON Tallinn is leading on citizen science, and there are European projects about it.

Audience -what about campaigning citizen science? Georgie – offering resources, opening data. Museum are politically neutral and there are debates about getting engaged politically, but should stay apolitical.

A separate blog post will cover the ThinkCamp challenge that I’ve led on collaborative writing

Plenary Final Discussion
Farewell by Johannes Vogel – working at EU level will be the big job in the near future. What the big things should be? confusion, getting science funding to grassroots groups. Heard too little from the scientists and would like to see more of this. How people reach this conference? I only heard about it through YouTube channel. There is space for self reflection on what we’re doing, citizen science studies. Think of migration and citizen scientists on the move. great for ECSA to support early career post-docs – list of jobs that will be available. Thanking the organisers – the richness of discussion was excellent.

ThinkCamp people – Margaret filmed the discussion for long show and tell that will be share on ‘citizens of science’ YouTube channel – things that came out: inclusiveness challenge: stipends for those who lack funding, helping grassroots, subject matter networks, co-creating events to see events that the want. WeCureALZ – large legible sans-serif fonts, large images – concept of tree that slowly grow. Communities of Europe – the CSA has a group that is doing such an effort. In the EC there was a conversation and they happy to support it. Search by nature of the citizen science, and the domain of science. Collaborative Writing – ideas of projects with an action plan. Museum data visualisation challenge – taking it out: why maps? what will be the best communications – using the visual design. Medium like d3 were considered.  The camera trap challenge – thinking about simpler driver than Raspberry-Pi.

 

Marisa – the games session: need to ensure enjoyable games and rigour of science, complex games can turn to fun: from gemification to workification. Leaderboards can be hidden because of the humanitarian nature of the project. Monique – six excellent story tellers – change, communication, translation and visualisation. Ian – For the session on scientific impacts: land use, land cover and atmospheric measurements – there is promise but there are challenge with the sensors. There are saving: calibration and validation. Kathrine – learning and citizen science: looking at science identity, plenty of tweets. Citizen science need to use different learning models for evaluation. Active approaches develop learning best.

Many responses about what citizen science mean: citizen not an idea – it’s the future.

We have many new members from the conference, and hope that people will stay in the association. New working groups, we are welcoming more groups and increasing in our impact.

The conference was followed by the citizen science festival –

ECSA 2016: Open Citizen Science – Day 2 (Afternoon)

The afternoon started with a packed session that focused on Citizen science Studies – Engaging with the participatory turn in the co-production of science and society Elevator talks & interactive session organised by Dana Mahr (University of Geneva); Anett Richter (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ); Claudia Göbel (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin | ECSA); Alan Irwin (Copenhagen Business School); Katrin Vohland (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin | GEWISS); Sascha Friesike (Alexander von Humboldt University Berlin) (the morning notes are here)

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Dana – astonishment as a starting point: the six organisers – astonished by the scale of interest of public participation in science, which is different from Public Understanding of Science (PUS) in the 1980s or science for the people in the 1970s. There are multiple interpretation – from methods to contract between science and society 2.0. It is adapted to many areas of knowing – though it is happening across the Western world, from physics to patient interests. There are modes of participation and reflecting on epistemology, social history, either as actors or as critical sociologists, and studies of science. Why do we reflect on citizen science – do we have citizen science studies? They received 50 proposals. Finally they decided to have short presentations: the many papers in the session were broken to two sets of lightning talks – 5 minutes talk: who you are what you are working on, and what your interests. We need to organise people very well. The account here, therefore is only of one half of the session (so even in one session you can’t have the full experience!)

Citizen Humanities: Configuring Interpretation and Perception for Participation (Dick Kasperowski, University of Gothenburg, Sweden) Part of a project taking science to the crowd – understanding how the participants are being constructed. Several citizen humanities – like Zooniverse and elsewhere, usually link to interpretation, assuming that it is constructed through a long training and contextual knowledge. The participants are seen as annotators, transcribers – low-level of skills, they are being limited to automation. Project avoid inclusion. Focusing on perceptional quality of participants. Maybe turning participants and humanities into quantification.

Are the rhetorics of citizen science prohibiting detailed accounts of its own practice? (Christian Nold UCL, UK). Worked in an EU project and try to follow the devices of citizen science, and we don’t look at the technologies of citizen science. As a designer & artist look at the sensing devices in different way. Air quality, noise monitoring – the project are part of bigger agendas – actually link to IoT and there is something interesting that is doing much more things that it what is measured and why. When we take them to specific context (e.g. Heathrow) the gain specific agency ,they are redesigned constantly. There are implication to citizen science: if it is a design practice, we will end up with different outcomes, and valuation – being reflective practitioner about the whole thing: what does it mean to care for an app. There are ontological aspects – how they are built into the devices: new type of environmentalism.

The (Citizen-)Scientification of Society and the Pleasures of Research. Citizen Science as Science Communication (Sascha Dickel TU München, Germany). Sociological STS research – leader of a project on citizen science. He suggest the following hypotheses – citizen science is part of the scientification of society. Science as institution, culture, expand to many areas. This is education, mass media. Second hypothesis: citizen science is scientification by participation. Assume that the public take part in scientific research – there are incentives for professional people, but there are different motivations. Discourse frame the incentive to participation. Citizen science discourse is framed as meaningful leisure. Linking it to concept of deeper meaning – civic participation and fun. Citizen science expand research to private sphere and reinforcing science as an institution. But is it good or bad to progress with scientification of society? Why not do that? This was a point of discussion that raised interest in the audience.

Participatory turn’s legacy and the European ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’ emerging framework (Hadrian Macq University of Liege, Belgium). Hadrian is enthusiastic about citizen science, but as a PhD student who need to be reflective, he explores the normative aspects of citizen science in Horizon 2020 – the specific aspects that it is developing: public understand of science, public engagement and responsible research and innovation. They were criticised in the literature and there is a risk of closing down research. His research plans are to explore the political and economic context of citizen science at the EC. Research and innovation are reoriented towards economic growth to tackle societal problems. There is concern about engagement fatigue and assumption that research and innovation is driven by industry and academia, and sometime citizen science can be seen instrumentally by the commission.

wp-1463751452653.jpgCreating Communicative Spaces that nurture inquiry, reflection, and dialogue in citizen science (Cindy Regalado Univ. College London, UK); Zooming to the local level – looking both as community organiser in Public Lab: grassroots organisation, with following principles: engaging people as researchers; pull complexity off the shelf; built in openness into science as a social process – e.g. through kite mapping; collaborative workflows – either on the website with research notes, maintaining a data archive and face to face; protecting openness with viral licensing and celebrating local innovation. As a researcher, want to point 3 things: notice Arnstein about the real power to change the process, decontextualisation of success stories – as some of the discussion in the book The Participatory City shows.

Who are the citizens in citizen science? Public participation in distributed computing (Bruno Strasser University of Geneva, Switzerland) Bruno explores the citizens and citizen science. There are a whole range of practices that are called citizen science – but it changing the exclusion of amateurs participation in production of scientific knowledge after an era of lack of participation. They will look at India, China, Europe, and US. They will look at medical, DIY science, crowdsourcing. They will look at the discourse and the ideas about parts of science – they will also look at current and past phenomena and current ones – aiming to have biographies for 1m people who participate in citizen science. What is the political and social economy of citizen science? What is the kind of knowledge that is being produced?

Openness in biohacking: expertise and citizen science (Rosen Bogdanov Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain). Researching biohacking and practices of openness in biohacking groups. There are issues of scientific expertise and there is less talk about that in citizen science. There are different types of expertise – interactional expertise, universal expertise – available everywhere. There are issues of keeping the relationships between types of expertise neatly separate. There is lack of scientific citizens. There are different practices of inclusion and exclusion within the community of biohackers.

Dingdingdong. Interferences with the Natural History of a Disease (Katrin Solhdju Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium).  Historian/philosopher of science with interest in medial – part of Dingdingdong disease about Huntington disease. They address current imagination of the disease and defining as only tragic and prescribe the self-fulfilling prophecy of how it is experienced. They are trying to consider a better environment for the people who are involved – history of the disease, speculative narration, dance and choreography and more.

Observing the observer: Citizen Social Science and the Participatory Turn (Alexandra Albert University of Manchester, UK). trying to understand citizen social science, in social citizen science is more than usual participation and they are observe and analyse their information – beyond the usual practices of social science. Looking specifically at the mass observation archive, trying to understand the ethnographic methods – anthropology at home, which include observation and reporting. The mass observation archive brings questions about expertise, and what they view it at, and what the observers though that they can be involved as researchers. This is done within sociology. Hope to lead to interesting observation on the potential of citizen social science. She will follow several case studies, which are about critiquing the method.

What can Citizen Science learn from participatory research? (Tobias Krüger, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany). From a cross faculty institute that look at human-environment relations. looking at participatory research – we can learn a lot from integrating literature. Build decision support tools for water quality, and done the model in a participatory way. Citizen science has the potential of setting what science will be done, and control over knowledge production. There are politics of citizen science engagement – who fund, who can hijack projects, and that lead to who’s knowledge count in the end.

Day summary

Summarising the day is challenging – 8 different sessions with different topics. Some of the reporting back include – John Tweddle – there are clear wp-1463753197409.jpgconservation impacts of citizen science: showing different approaches – from community led to university led to global databases. There are different ways, lots of different outcomes. Complex pathways. Observations – is citizen science support outcomes? evaluating is difficult but can be powerful demonstration. . Balancing highlighting the community led and working with local communities . Trying to balance autonomy with the need to have large datasets. Max Craglia – about technology: a lot of applications across many aspects – many were funded by EU data. All the data and software were open. Moving towards open source and data – starting to have critical studies of citizen science. Exploring the light pollution – there are issues that were above – issues were noted above about light studies. Session 8 – Alena Bartonova – wp-1463753211888.jpgthe topics that were looking at air quality, noise, quality of public spaces. and engagement, looking at the social aspect. Thinking about empowerment. In air pollution there are many tools and information that is available, but in each project they are forgotten and there isn’t continuity of use and application. There are technologies and users but there are problems in doing it together – lack of co-design. Lucy Robinson – The session on innovative science looked at mosquitoes, molecular bio, crowdsourcing research question of mental health. Issues of evaluation came up. Failure is equally important as success. Session on participatory social innovation – looked at the connection of digital social innovation and citizen science. Identifying difference – need to solve new societal challenges. Shared lessons and challenges: structure engagement, levels of participation, motivation. Need to think of actionable policy recommendation. Never just a question of providing participation and motivation, but also dealing with conflicting practices and values. Alan Irwin – looking at the participatory turn: there were many papers on critical studies of citizen science. Connecting up research community with practitioners – there are many reflective practitioners. Lots of cross over. Need to maintain space for the groups to get together. Balance of discussion on the nature of citizen science and scientification of society – which led to a lively discussion. What are the politics, what the modes of citizenship? Not all citizen science is good automatically and maintain these critical question. Education – specifically about schools and starting a new working group at ECSA, look at the specific needs.

ECSA GA: ECSA grow significantly since January with a lot of individual members after the conference. There is a new website, which you can get a preview, and it will be launched soon – we see the map of citizen science actors in Europe. Katrin suggested the strategy and plan for 2016/2017. The aim is to strengthen the ECSA community, and do that through the use of new websites and activities – maps that increase visibility, and empower local hubs and expertise. Starting to develop policy papers and having transparent governance structure, but now working on internal procedures. Aiming to make ECSA more integrative. The working groups are evolving – aim to appoint an internal community manager, improve external communication, make ECSA more independent from the Museum. The COST action on citizen science will assist in promoting citizen science activities across Europe. ECSA participate in DITOs and LandSense which will help in establishing ECSA well. The working groups are developing, but we need to identify more people who will progress on the best practice area – we start collating best practice guides. ECSA got guidelines for participating in European calls. New policy position papers: citizen science as part of EU policy delivery – looking at EU directive. The white paper on citizen science for Europe and EU wide citizen science programmes.

Following the AGM, we had a series of lightning talks as an opening to the think camp – the talks mixed participants in the Berlin science hacking community and people who came to the conference – and finally we experienced the Citizen Science Disco. I’ve welcomed this session with the demonstration, through the work of Leni Diner-Dotan on the Citizen Cyberscience nightmare wall that new and radical participation is possible in citizen science conferences.

Lucy Peterson explains the idea of hacking and science hackathons

Following this, Johann Bauerfeind describe the experience of the Berlin iGEM team

Byrke Lou, an artist who works on issues of science and the environment was next:

Cindy Regalado then describe the work of public lab

Kat Austen closed the lightning talks with chemistry hacking

The last part included a short intro to the ThinkCamp

ECSA2016: Open Citizen Science – Day 2 (Morning)

wp-1463763323886.jpgAfter the opening day (see morning and afternoon posts) and the reception under the dinosaur at the museum, the second day started with an introduction and review of day 1 by Marisa Ponti (University of Gothenburg, Sweden): We want to reconnect to the first day. Particularly happy to hear the connection at the European Commission (EC) level about the link of citizen science and open science. Indicators for success, and digital and other aspects of inequality were address. Today we have 3 keynotes, and that is followed by two four parallel sessions.

The keynotes were facilitated by Susanne Hecker (UFZ | iDiv, Germany) – we have several celebrations – including the birthday of the conference chair, and the success of conference with many participants.

Citizen science – innovation & inspiration for science, Rick Bonney (Cornell Lab of Ornithology (CLO), USA), Rick has been working in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for 42 years, and he started many citizen science projects in the lab. The end outcome for his work are projects like eBird which receives 18,000 checklists a day – eBird can provide specific location and see what was happening and you can report opportunistic or systematic effort. You can report what you’ve seen – the list is automatically checked, and the filters that decide which list you can see is operated by many volunteer editors. This helps in managing the quality of the data – since 2002 they had 300K users, 250mil observations – 98.5% world’s species.  Because the checklist is smart, it is telling us if we recorded everything that you’ve seen or not, this provided the data for statisticians that can do the STEM model for distribution of species. They can see the routes of travel and discover routes of migration – e.g. over the ocean – which was not known to ornithologists before the data was available. Lots of papers are coming out, including about climate change impact. There is also analysis to support the location of creating wetlands to support migratory birds. The data is open and allow people to use it for many purposes. There are also survey of people who use the data – from law and policy, habitat protection and site and habitat management.

There is evidence for effective conservation. The eBird data is used for the state of bird population and ways of exploring the data – it is being used for education with a range of lesson plans. There is also an effort to increase cultural diversity of participants. CLO was one of the first organisations that include citizen science in its mission. This links to the history of the lab that was always working with volunteers observers, since it was founded by Arthur Allen.

Here it gets personal: Rick’s dad encourage him to be interested in birds and the environment, and he done analysis of Christmas Bird Count – he done diary of birds, and he managed to discover things that other people didn’t know. He joined the lab in 1972, and that led to analysis of Christmas Bird Count. After graduation he worked as Volkswagen mechanic and other jobs, and started working on the Living Bird magazine and found many things about the nest watch study. They started noticing impacts on citizen science. They developed different programme – e.g. FeederWatch that allow people to learn about the birds in addition to the data collection. So they have developed programmes – from Nest Record Card in 1965 to eBird in 2002. Citizen Science allow to track infectious disease, understand forest fragmentation impact that led to guides to forest manager. There were many other people doing work with citizen science – the number of peer review publications are appearing. Theobald et al. 2015 show that citizen science is contributing to many areas – many people, high financial value, and many peer review paper. The important aspects are: design and evaluate effectively, ‘own’ citizen science, diversity and inclusion and collaborate. there are different guides for citizen science and tool-kits.wp-1463763362078.jpg There are different terms that are being used – civic science, volunteer monitoring, traditional knowledge – but the concept is being recognised and it get traction – we need to own and embrace the term. Without a common term, it is impossible to quantify the impacts. The third point is diversity & inclusion – many community know things that we don’t know. The is an importance in collaboration – Finn Danielsen 2013 show that many indicators for international treaties can be done through citizen science. Rick hope to develop an eFish project next.

10 Principles of Citizen Science (Lucy Robinson – The Natural History Museum London, UK). The term Citizen Science was not used in the UK in the past but gain acceptance – she described the Natural History Museum, and through the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) programme they secured commitments from management and it is central to their work. They have different project through different means – about 10 projects.

wp-1463763376254.jpgThe ECSA working group on best practice have developed the 10 principles which was an internal deliberative process. We were able to create them, and share them. Why are they needed? the term citizen science became a buzz word, and it create many opportunities, but also require challenges to agree on common concept and not use ‘we should’ – we don’t want standards – we want it as a flexible concepts which can be applied in diverse situations and disciplines – but we do want to have good practice. The principles are for inspiration, support, principle of good practice. She then gone through the 10 principles: The first principle is actively involve citizens, and there are many photos of people involve locally and the principle usually met. Second, we want to have real science, as Rick demonstrated – many peer reviews publications, but this is not the only output: from identifying pollution and acting on it, or other similar things. Third, thinking about who benefits – need to be mutually beneficial. Many benefits are varies and different between actors – we need to evaluate these impacts – but this is squeezed many times. wp-1463763396794.jpgThe #WhyICitSci during the Citizen Science Association conference in 2015 demonstrated the benefits for practitioners. Four, there are smaller scale projects that allow people to engage in multiple stages of the process if they wish to. Fifth, we need to ensure feedback – it’s motivate people, feedback can be newsletter, maps, emails but personalised feedback is important – and can we be more creative. For example in LA they carry out meetups. Sixth, it is about understanding it as a research approach, and the data quality issue of citizen science is addressed – are we do in it enough to address the concerns. Need to remember that it is a research method. We don’t need perfect – high-quality data. We also need it fit for purpose. Seventh, need to make data and metadata open – in practice, this doesn’t happen for many reasons. Eights – we need to acknowledge the citizen science in project results and publications – in one case a project listed 37,000 co-authors (with only 10 professional scientists). Ninth, evaluating citizen science for their outcomes – this is something that can be squeezed out – evaluation require careful thinking what was the purpose of the project. Need to think in advanced about what success mean. Finally, considering ethical and legal considerations of the activity. The principles are translated to many languages – in 17 languages and 3 more in preparation. There are now news guides for citizen science. We are now an international committee – we have 300 people in the room who are presenting thousands of citizen science projects. What should be the eleventh principle?

My talk, Participatory Citizen Science, is available in a separate blog post. 

Some of the reaction on twitter:

Of the four parallel sessions that were on offer, I followed:

Worldwide citizen science initiatives on light pollution –  organised by Franz Hölker & Sibylle Schroer (IGB Berlin, Germany )- usually, life for millions of years was dark, but humans started to illuminate the night, and many species are not ready for it. There are good reasons for the lighting of the night but aalso problems. The area of research into light pollution is an interdisciplinary area, and we need to explore it from different perspectives.

How reliable is data produced by citizen scientists? (Chris Kyba – GFZ Potsdam, Germany). Chris discussed reliability – scientists are specific about calibration and acceptance of tools – e.g. Sky Quality Meter is called ‘Kindergarten toy’. Citizen science is ‘gimmick’ to get proposals funded – but that is not true any more. The disappearance of stars in the sky you can tell how much light there is. We are daytime active animals – satellite are no sensitive to blue light from LEDs, so satellites can’t capture all lights. The Globe at Night is being used around the world, and there is a paper Kyba et al. (Sci Rep 2013) – there is good correlation, but data is broad. The app guide you to look at specific area of the Sky – there is relationship between number of observations and the agreement with the data – more observations make people more confident. Data is quantitative and there is a method to check for accuracy. There are environmental variability (humidity, dust) there is also shot-to-shot variation and person-to-person variation. Trying to solve it through community experiments, and flashmob for science, and do repeated observation one after the other. With MyGeoss, they created a portal to give it to scientists and allow people to understand trend analysis from different projects.

Cities at Night: ISS pictures to trace the environmental impact the light pollution
Alejandro Sanches Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. There are impacts of light pollution. There is an ESA mission specific to without calibration – these are the ISS pictures by astronauts. There are tools like DMSP/OLS, VIIRS/DNS but they don’t have proper reolution as the ISS/D3S/RGS is in better resolution and ability – (Aube 2013 Plos one 8(7) e67798). There are simulations of change for Montreal for the changes in lighting – so can see impacts from increase from 160% to 44% according to different illumination techniques. There are also maps of specific places – e.g. Milan, Berlin (noticing the two parts)

From an interdisciplinary science community to citizen science (Sibylle Schroer IGB Berlin, Germany). She looked  at Carbon Sinks – ocean, forests and crop-land – there are impacts from cows and animals. There are significant impacts from agriculture – but what about lakes, light and GHG? Inland waters are active in global C cycle – one fifth of emissions are coming from inland water. There are anthropogenic drivers that increase temperature, carbon input, nutrients – but what about night-light? They done lab experiment and the artificial light at night influence Diatoms – shift in metabolism. This allow to calculate the impact of the 2.4% land area in Germany that covered by water – outside the lab what is going on. So the only way to do it is through citizen science, and evaluate the impact of artificial light – impact of village of agriculture activities – very complex package. Creating sampling package and options of recording by app or questionnaire, and then send it off.

wp-1463763538483.jpgCrime Scene German Inland Waters: On the Track of CO2 K(atja Felsmann IGB Berlin, Germany). River areas are important as explained in the previous talk. There was a specific COST Action LoNNe which run 2012 – 2016.She was involved in research that took information from 635 sites – 192 streams, 609 questionnaire about night-time. Satellite data is only about light that go upward, not the blue spectrum. There are very good observations – with qualitative comments that help to understand the impact of light situation. At the COST Action ES1204 include people from many areas – there is a small community from in stars4all they try to reach out to many more people – citizen sensing and gamification – there are many initiatives and the question is about creating self-sustained networks and challenges of communication.

wp-1463763433804.jpgWorld Café:  1 round of discussion instead of moving between tables. There are three hosts: potential and limits of CS for research; skills needed to create self-sustainable platform. – EU project STARS4All is relevant here.

The idea is to sustained the network over time. Maybe similar lessons from Moon watch project in the 1950s. In the water project, participants  that they will give them information about the water quality, they didn’t realise that it is about what the researcher learn. Another reason for success is a very good communication – the reason for continuing funding is not the good science, but because of the science – log with owl. Misconception of getting the data – is local impact. Motivation – in Alzheimer research UK they had a very successful game, but need to understand motivation of doing a game for the game, or is it about the motivation to help science. There are ways to encourage people to do more through competition but should be careful about the unintended competition. Interest in the results and personal aspects – need to identity. In Galaxy Zoo – this can be even volunteers that help other volunteers. There is scalability challenge of dealing with more and more volunteers. The most important words : motivations , cooperation.

In terms of quality – is to improve it from the start through training. Selecting people according to skills – send people as control to try to see if you get bias. There are issues of funding to get project going over time. Having a lecture, and then do the activity.

 

Participatory [Citizen] Science

Citizen Science as Participatory Science‘ is one of the most popular posts that I have published here. The post is the core section of a chapter that was published in 2013 (the post itself was written in 2011). For the first European Citizen Science Association conference I was asked to give a keynote on the second day of the conference, which I have titled ‘Participatory Citizen Science‘, to match the overall theme of the conference, which is  ‘Citizen Science – Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy’. The abstract of the talk:

In the inaugural ECSA conference, we are exploring the intersection of innovation, open science, policy and society and the ways in which we can established new collaborations for a common good. The terms participation and inclusion are especially important if we want to fulfil the high expectations from citizen science, as a harbinger of open science. In the talk, the conditions for participatory citizen science will be explored – the potential audience of different areas and activities of citizen science, and the theoretical frameworks, methodologies and techniques that can be used to make citizen science more participatory. The challenges of participation include designing projects and activities that fit with participants’ daily life and practices, their interests, skills, as well as the resources that they have, self-believes and more. Using lessons from EU FP7 projects such as EveryAware, Citizen Cyberlab, and UK EPSRC projects Extreme Citizen Science, and Street Mobility, the boundaries of participatory citizen science will be charted.

As always, there is a gap between the abstract and the talk itself – as I started exploring the issues of participatory citizen science, some questions about the nature of participation came up, and I was trying to discuss them. Here are the slides:

After opening with acknowledgement to the people who work with us (and funded us), the talk turn the core issue – the term participation.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=sherry+and+george+arnstein
Sherry Arnstein with Harry S Truman (image by George Arnstein)

Type ‘participation’ into Google Scholar, and the top paper, with over 11,000 citations, is Sherry Rubin Arnstein’s ‘A ladder of citizen participation’. In her ladder, Sherry offered 8 levels of participation – from manipulation to citizen control. Her focus was on political power and the ability of the people who are impacted by the decisions to participate and influence them. Knowingly simplified, the ladder focus on political power relationships, and it might be this simple presentation and structure that explains its lasting influence.

Since its emergence, other researchers developed versions of participation ladders – for example Wiedmann and Femers (1993), here from a talk I gave in 2011:

These ladders come with baggage: a strong value judgement that the top is good, and the bottom is minimal (in the version above) or worse (in Arnstein’s version). The WeGovNow! Project is part of the range of ongoing activities of using digital tools to increase participation and move between rungs in these concept of participation, with an inherent assumption about the importance of high engagement.

Levels of Citizen Science 2011
Levels of Citizen Science 2011

At the beginning of 2011, I found myself creating a ladder of my own. Influenced by the ladders that I learned from, the ‘levels of citizen science’ make an implicit value judgement in which ‘extreme’ at the top is better than crowdsourcing. However, the more I’ve learned about citizen science, and had time to reflect on what participation mean and who should participate and how, I feel that this strong value judgement is wrong and a simple ladder can’t capture the nature of participation in Citizen Science.

There are two characteristics that demonstrate the complexity of participation particularly well: the levels of education of participants in citizen science activities, and the way participation inequality (AKA 90-9-1 rule) shape the time and effort investment of participants in citizen science activities.

We can look at them in turns, by examining citizen science projects against the general population. We start with levels of education – Across the EU28 countries, we are now approaching 27% of the population with tertiary education (university). There is wide variability, with the UK at 37.6%, France at 30.4%, Germany 23.8%, Italy 15.5%, and Romania 15%. This is part of a global trend – with about 200 million students studying in tertiary education across the world, of which about 2.5 million (about 1.25%) studying to a doctoral level.

However, if we look at citizen science project, we see a different picture: in OpenStreetMap, 78% of participants hold tertiary education, with 8% holding doctoral level degrees. In Galaxy Zoo, 65% of participants with tertiary education and 10% with doctoral level degrees. In Transcribe Bentham (TB), 97% of participants have tertiary education and 24% hold doctoral level degrees. What we see here is much more participation with people with higher degrees – well above their expected rate in the general population.

The second aspect, Participation inequality, have been observed in OpenStreetMap volunteer mapping activities, iSpot – in both the community of those who capture information and those that help classify the species, and even in an offline conservation volunteering activities of the Trust for Conservation Volunteers. In short, it is very persistent aspect of citizen science activities.

For the sake of the analysis, lets think of look at citizen science projects that require high skills from participants and significant engagement (like TB), those that require high skills but not necessarily a demanding participation (as many Zooniverse project do), and then the low skills/high engagement project (e.g. our work with non-literate groups), and finally low skills/low engagement projects. There are clear benefits for participation in each and every block of this classification:

high skills/high engagement: These provide provide a way to include highly valuable effort with the participants acting as virtual research assistants. There is a significant time investment by them, and opportunities for deeper engagement (writing papers, analysis)

high skills/low engagement: The high skills might contribute to data quality, and allow the use of disciplinary jargon, with opportunities for lighter or deeper engagement to match time/effort constraints

low skills/high engagement: Such activities are providing an opportunity for education, awareness raising, increased science capital, and other skills. They require support and facilitation but can show high potential for inclusiveness.

low skills/low engagement: Here we have an opportunity for active engagement with science with limited effort, there is also a potential for family/Cross-generational activities, and outreach to marginalised groups (as OPen Air Laboratories done)

In short – in each type of project, there are important societal benefits for participation, and it’s not only the ‘full inclusion at the deep level’ that we should focus on.

Interestingly, across these projects and levels, people are motivated by science as a joint human activity of creating knowledge that is shared.

So what can we say about participation in citizen science – well, it’s complex. There are cases where the effort is exploited, and we should guard against that, but outside these cases, the rest is much more complex picture.

The talk move on to suggest a model of allowing people to adjust their participation in citizen science through an ‘escalator’ that we are aiming to conceptually develop in DITOs.

Finally, with this understanding of participation, we can understand better the link to open science, open access and the need of participants to potentially analyse the information.