EU-Citizen.Science project kick-off meeting

DSCN3286The EU-Citizen.Science is a new project that is part of a family of citizen science projects that are funded through the Science with and for Society (SwafS) stream of the Horizon 2020 programme. The project started in January and will run for 3 years. It is coordinated by the Natural History Museum of Berlin (the Museum für Naturkunde – MfN) and the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA).

The meeting was opened by Johannes Vogel, the director of MfN and the chair of ECSA who set a target for the project, with the German presidency of the European Union in 2020, and the need to prepare activities that will emphasise the role of citizen science in cities.

DSC_1458

Men stand in front of a lectern with slides
The range of SwafS projects

Next, Linden Farrer from DG RTD provided the context for the project. The SwafS is about 500m Eur part of H2020, that tries to build effective co-operation, foster the recruitment of new talent for science and pair scientific excellence with a connection to societal needs. These goals have been turned into eight lines of activities. Citizen Science is falling under public engagement. The interim evaluation of SwafS in 2017 found it highly relevant, that there is satisfactory efficiency with a low success rate in calls – it’s the home for civil society organisations. SwafS is highly coherent with internal and international policies, and very high added value – it is not competing with local funding, and because of the level of funding, there is limited effectiveness. As a response to the evaluation, the focused the calls on sustainable institutional changes, focus on “doing R&I” through citizen science and user-led innovation, encourage collaboration among projects, and identify SMART impacts that can be measured. They align with overall goals: RR (MoRRI) SDGs, COP21 etc. The strategic orientation includes building the knowledge base, exploring and support citizen science, and other activities. There are future calls within the area of citizen science and there are 41 projects of which 31 are still active. There are many other H2020 projects that have an element of citizen science. Finally, RRI is an important element that is cross-cutting in H2020 and it is aimed to involve citizens, civil society organisations (CSO) and other non-traditional actors in EU research programmes. There is an aim to change the governance of research. The MoRRI D3.2 report is showing the interaction between different areas of the agenda. There are different projects that are taking an RRI approach is different between projects across the H2020 goals. There is almost no project in the ERC portfolio that is falling under the RRI framework. There are also projects that are going beyond the EU – with international partners that are no in the EU – from Japan to Chile.

Beyond H2020 and into Horizon Europe, the Lamy report pointed the need to mobilise and involve citizens. In Horizon Europe, there is more mission-based science – there is a bigger budget – 400 mil Eur to enhance citizen science and enhancing the European R&I system. The is an article on open science in general, and different R&I missions – a portfolio of actions that require a multi-stakeholder and transdisciplinary approach to achieve goals within a given time frame. The Open Science Policy Platform included in its recommendation citizen science (recommendation 8 in a document from 29/05/2018). OSPP build the visibility of citizen science – opening a roadmap, vision and skills to increase the recognition of it.

DSCN3283Colombe Warin, the Project Officer in charge of the project point that the consortia have a strong obligation for dissemination – need to freely share research strategies, methodologies, raw data, and methodology – to show commitment to citizen science and to the principles of RRI. It is also important to notice the difference between communication and dissemination as a concrete activity of the project,  although these are mixed in citizen science projects.

DSC_1462Katrin Vohland, the project PI pointed to the complexity of citizen science, the complexity of interpreting citizen science, and variety of ideas about what it is, how to call the people who participate, and which disciplines which bring with them different ways of understanding it, the methodologies… There are many approaches to data quality and accessibility. The project itself is the creation of a central hub for cross European Knowledge Sharing, including best practices, and there are lots of material that is emerging and need to be collected. We need a co-design of tools and guidelines so they are relevant to different audiences. The project includes 6 main work packages – first platform, community and network building; WP3 – the content of the platform which includes context, quality assurance and curation to consolidate the citizen science knowledge base; WP5 is about empowering diverse stakeholders to become citizen scientists, start citizen science project or adopt the professionally through training; WP4 that is about exploring new pathways of participatory governance with the public and policymakers, and finally WP6 that about advancing citizen science into mainstream of public engagement, science communication and education by dissemination and exploitation.

Approach to the platform in WP2 with a focus on the platform, community and network building – technology decisions are still open in order to support different audiences: participants, practitioners, policy makers, and science journalists. The groups made the first steps of recognising what are the training needs, how they are linked to specific tools and formats, and what user-centred design principles should guide the implementation.

WP3 is focusing on identifying quality criteria that will be used to judge which tools and resources will be curated on the platform. It is led by IIASA. This was done by identifying specific tools and then considering what quality criteria apply to them – for example, ECSA’s 10 principles of citizen science. About 20 “tools” were recognised in a 20 minutes exercise.

WP4 is about awareness and engagement and is led by Earthwatch – it will share a conceptual model for awareness, empowerment, and engagement and then develop tools and strategies for citizen engagement. It will also provide a coordinated approach to citizen science with other SwafS initiatives. There is also an element of reaching out to policymakers.

WP5, which UCL is leading on, is focusing on training. First, a core objective is to assess the training needs of those inexperienced in citizen science and those that are involved in it. Based on that, aggregate, curate, and create a suite of innovative training resources to address these needs and enhance European knowledge sharing in this area. There will be a specific effort to increase linkages with SDGs. Finally, the WP5 will try to identify and develop a delivery model that reaches citizen scientists and potential practitioners/citizen science project leaders in all countries of Europe. This work package starts only in the summer of 2019 with the gap and needs analysis. There are multiple target groups: Public (newcomers and citizen scientists), Practitioners (coordinators), Academia (career scientists, primary and secondary school teachers), Policymakers (and civil servants), Press (journalists and media experts), and SMEs and industry (and new entrepreneurs). So identifying needs and considering what form of training suit them will be quite a task…

WP1 is led by MfN and deals with management is also tasked with coordination with other projects that are funded from the same call – the SwafS 15 which is about exploring and supporting citizen science. There is a whole group of projects in the call that can be linked to the coordination effort of EU-Citizen.Science. For example, MICS, a project that is coordinated by Earthwatch is focusing on measuring the impact of environmental citizen science and in particular on river restoration, and they aim to provide tools that support the process of understanding and measuring impacts. In WeObserve, there is a CoP on Impact. The Super-MoRRI provide another set of impact evaluation. Integrating these into EU-Citizen.Science so information can be shared widely is important. The ACTION project will include cascading grants for participatory science toolkit about pollution.

DSC_1459
The communication approach to address the vision and objectives of the project

WP6 which is focusing on dissemination and communication is led by ECSITE and Daphnie Daras and Suzanna Fillipecki presented it – the European Network of Science Centres and Museums. The effort of Ecsite effort will include helping with communication with science journalists and science centres across Europe. The project will inherit the social media channels of DITOs. The need to reach out to the multiple target groups with different messages to reach out to them. Some early analysis involved identifying specific messages – for example, for researchers who are not involved in citizen science, to find a way to encourage them to understand and consider it.

WP7 is about evaluation and impact assessment. It is led by the centre for social innovation in Vienna (ZSI), with Barbara Kieslinger and Teresa Schafer. ZSI is a not-for-profit that works on different social innovation and got into citizen science through an interest in maker spaces and DIY science, and provided input into the Socientize project in 2014 and many activities since. The WP is assessing the usefulness and user acceptance of the project’s activities. Although we have described objectives, we need to define the details of what will be the measurements of success and knowing that we’ve reached the objectives.

 

 

Advertisements

Vespucci / COST action training school on digital transformation, citizen science, and social innovation

As part of the COST action that is dedicated to citizen science across Europe, I have participated in a training school about digital transformation, citizen science, and social innovation.  The training school set out to be a five-day event for doctoral students, researchers, policymakers, civic entrepreneurs, designers, and civil servants who are interested in exploring and learning about:

  • how citizen science can be understood and/or used as a strategic or intentional approach to social innovation;
  • the intertwinement of social innovation with socio-technical developments, including the impacts of digital transformation;
  • the relationship between policy framing, participatory research, and social innovation.

With the guidance of six trainers: Myself, Mara Balestrini, Ideas For Change, Barcelona; Stefan Daume, Scitingly Project, Stockholm; Cristina Capineri, University of Siena, Italy;  and Sven Schade and Marisa Ponti, the EU Joint Research Centre who supported the whole training school in addition to the COST action.

The students came from across Europe – from places such as Turkey, Sicily, Hungary, Austria and Scotland, with the usual internationalisation of the academic world – such as Lithuanian working in Italy or Spanish working in Scotland. Although some of the students were already familiar with the world of citizen science, other were new to it. We’ve started the week with a mapping exercise to help us set mixed groups with different skills across the spectrum of social innovation and citizen science.

DSCN3253.JPG

During the week, four groups of students (some of them experienced researchers at an advanced stage of their career!) started to develop research activities around the intersection between the three core topics. Some noticeable outcomes are the realisation that within a highly multidisciplinary area, there are challenges in case study selection and analysis; the need to define concepts such as impact, uptake, value, success, failure and so on… There was also the constant issue of finding bout failures so other people can learn from them.

After about a day and a half of lectures, discussions, and organisation, the participants started to look into four interesting areas. The first group started to ask questions about the social impacts of projects and in particular the difference between co-created projects which tend to be short term, and long-term projects, which tend to be top-down and highly structured. They started working on analysing 30 case studies to understand the trade-offs. The second group questioned the differences in “triggering events” for citizen science and especially “stress” vs “shock”. The stress events are ongoing issues such as noise or air quality, while shock are events such as disaster response. The third group started looking at the meaning of “value” in citizen science and ended with the clash between the neoliberal interpretation of citizen science vs the more communitarian and humanistic interpretation of its role in society. They have done their data collection by interviewing the trainers – a good way of utilising the knowledge in the room. Finally, the fourth group explored project reports on the Horizon 2020 portal as a way to understand the social value that emerges from EU funded projects that are relevant to the areas of social innovation and citizen science – they have identified over 90 projects that are worth exploring further.

The value of a training school is in the immersion that participants and trainers have for the five days and the fact that this school was running in the winter meant that there was an extra incentive to stay inside and focus. This adds to other good experiences at the same location through the Vespucci Initiative. At the end of it all, it is about building networks of researchers which will hopefully continue to develop.

dscn3266

 

 

Citizen Science: Expertise, Democracy and Public Participation – Report for Swiss Science Council

One of the joys of the Doing it Together Science project is that it provides opportunities to work closely with different partners from very different areas. One such a collaboration is with Bruno Strasser and his group at the University of Geneva who are researching citizen science from an STS/history of science perspective.

Over the first part of 2018, Bruno and I developed a report for the Swiss Science Council on citizen science. Here is the summary of the report:

“Citizen science” refers to a broad range of activities where people produce scientific knowledge outside of traditional scientific institutions. From mapping natural phenomena to analyzing scientific data, sharing health information, and making
new technologies, citizen science occurs across all the disciplines of science and involves a number of different methods of inquiry, both orthodox and alternative. It includes projects directed by scientists and by grassroots organizations as well as projects where power over the design, implementation, and the use of outputs is shared among participants and organizers.

Citizen science is not a completely novel phenomenon since it was the main mode of practicing science for centuries. But the professionalization of science and the rise of experimentalism since the mid-nineteenth century has increasingly separated professional scientists from the public, and this accelerated in the second part of the twentieth century. Citizen science, and other participatory research activities, reconnect ists and the public in new ways. Unlike previous attempts at bridging the gap between science and the public through science communication or through deliberative forums, in citizen science the public directly contributes to the production of knowledge, though in many cases their role is restricted to data collection or simple analysis.

Citizen science is witnessing a rapid growth and is increasingly being recognized by national governments and science funding agencies as a promising solution to three sets of problems affecting the relationships between science and society. First, citizen science can contribute to science by providing a large workforce to solve research problems that require extensive observations (mapping biodiversity) or the analysis of big data sets (classifying galaxies). It can also contribute new do-it-yourself (DIY) research tools, foster Open Science, and bring more inclusive methods to scientific research. Second, it can contribute to improving citizens’ scientific literacy, specifically with regard to the nature of science and scientific inquiry, which is crucial for the ability of citizens to position themselves in democratic debates about scientific and technical issues. Third, it can contribute to making science more democratic, both in the sense of including more diverse people in the practice of science and in making science better aligned with the public interest. It can also increase public trust in science and help governments fulfil their international monitoring obligations, for example for biodiversity or air quality.

The great opportunities of citizen science for science, education, and democracy, but also the risks of cooptation by scientific institutions and of populist undermining of professional expertise deserve serious critical attention from scholars and policy makers.

The report is available as a stand-alone report, and in a version that includes the conclusions and recommendations by the council.

SSCreport

New publication: Participatory citizen science

I’ve mentioned in the previous posts about the introduction and conclusions chapters in the book “Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy” and the chapter about citizen science in universities. The final chapter in the book that I would like to highlight is my chapter “participatory citizen science“. As Rick Bonney pointed to me, on the face of it, this title sounds like a pointless repetition because all citizen science is participatory science by definition, and therefore this title can be translated to “participatory participatory science” – which doesn’t make much sense…

However, I contend that it does make sense because the issue of participation in citizen science and “what exactly the word participation mean?” is not that simple to answer. A good demonstration the fact that participation is not that simple is provided through to frequent references to Arnstein ladder of citizen participation in the literature on citizen science. It is something that I have been exploring in various papers and in my research. The chapter itself is a polished, peer-reviewed, version of my keynote from the ECSA 2016 conference (and the blog that accompanied it). It is an investigation into the meaning of participation and starting to answer who participate and how they participate. The chapter leads towards a 2×2 typology of the type of participants and the depth of engagement across projects.

The highlights of the chapter are:

  • Common conceptualisations of participation assume high-level participation is good and low-level participation is bad. However, examining participation in terms of high and low levels of knowledge and engagement reveals different types of value in each case.
  • The spectrum of citizen science activities means some are suitable for people who have education and knowledge equivalent to PhD level, while some are aimed at non-literate participants. There are also activities suitable for micro-engagement, and others requiring deep engagement over time.
  • Issues of power, exploitation and commitment to engagement need to be explored for each citizen science project, as called for by the ECSA Ten Principles of Citizen Science, in response to the need for a more nuanced view that allows different activities to emerge

You can find the chapter here.

Table of High and low engagement and skills from the chapter

New publication: Integrating citizen science into university

In addition to the introduction and conclusion chapters in the book “Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy“, I have contributed to content chapters that are at the body of the book. Daniel Wyler, from the University of Zurich, led on the writing of the chapter “Integrating citizen science into university” and I joined as a co-author. Daniel has a significant experience as a senior manager at the University of Zurich and became interested in citizen science a few years ago. He led the development of the report of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) on citizen science in 2016, on which this chapter build. He also initiated a large citizen science centre at the university of Zurich and ETH – one of the first in the world.

The chapter was written in a way that it can be used to encourage universities’ senior leaders to adopt citizen science activities into their operations. We describe how it can enhance research activities, teaching, linkage to society, as well as open up the scope for new funding and resources. We also emphasise the unique role of universities in the field of citizen science and list nine challenges: identifying what is the right balance of citizen science projects in the wider range of projects; maintaining quality and impact; improve openness and transparency; strengthening learning and creativity; optimising organisation, communication, and sustainability; establishing suitable credits and rewards; increasing funding for citizen science projects; and striking a new balance between researchers and society.

The highlights of the chapter are:

  • Universities are an integral part of citizen science activities.
  • Universities gain breadth and strength in research by adopting and supporting citizen science, which consolidates their position and recognition in society, brings new resources and increases public trust in universities.
  • Universities contribute to citizen science by providing professional infrastructure, knowledge and skills; ethical and legal background; educational facilities for present and future citizen scientists; sustainable teaching; and funding.
  • University engagement in citizen science faces a number of challenges, which can be managed through project planning and the support of funders and policymakers.

The chapter can be found here (as the whole book – it is free for reuse).

image.imageformat.lightbox.1942538207[1]
The poster of the Zurich workshop that led to the LERU report

New publication: Citizen science to foster innovation in open science, society and policy

The previous post described the opening chapter of “Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Policy, Science and Society“, which apart from the first 7 pages, is following a fairly standard pattern of introduction chapters – an overview of the sections and explaining the logic behind organising the chapters and the order that they appear, and description of the case studies in the book.

The concluding chapter, on the other hand, was created with special effort to make it a synthesis and analysis of the themes that emerge from the book. The chapter “Citizen science to foster innovation in open science, society and policy” was created in a joint effort of the editorial team in the following way: first, we’ve asked each of the chapters lead authors to agree with their co-authors and provide 3 to 5 bullet points that summarise the main messages of the chapter. The purpose of these points is to be a quick reference for the readers about the chapter with more focused information than an abstract. You can find these “Highlights” in each of the chapters (though not in the case studies).

These highlights also served another purpose – as a starting point for the synthesis. We copied all the highlights into a Google Document, and then, in mid-September 2017, with all the chapters completed and ready for the final stage of production, Aletta, Susanne, Anne, and myself joined in two online workshops in which we discussed the themes and collaboratively  moved the bullet points around so we can gather them into common headings (science, society, science-policy interface, technology, science communication and education, and organisational/institutional). With the bullet points grouped, we started composing paragraphs from this “raw material” – it is fascinating to follow the versions of the Google Document and see the sections emerging in a short period of time.

As with the rest of the book, we were fortunate that Susanne, the lead editor, is also a very talented science communicator with a very good eye to graphic design. The final chapter includes pictograms that represent different audiences for the recommendations that are emerging from the book – policymakers, researchers, educators, etc (see example below). The effort by Aletta and Susanne on this chapter produced an excellent synthesis from the joint output of 121 authors – an excellent way to conclude the book in a meaningful way.   The end result can be found here.

Page in book with icons

New publication: Innovation in open science, society and policy – setting the agenda for citizen science

As part of the editorial team of the book “Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Policy, Science and Society“, I have contributed by working with the authors of chapters, organising the orders of the chapters, managing the peer review process, and so on. In addition, I was involved in the writing to 4 chapters out of the 31 in the book – this post, and the three that will follow it, are here to provide some context to them.

As common in edited books, the editorial team collaborated on the opening and closing chapters. For the opening chapter which is titled, similarly to the book “Innovation in open science, society and policy – setting the agenda for citizen science” the editorial team as a whole collaborated. In this chapter, we start by helping people who are not familiar with citizen science with some definitions, a bit of history of where it came from, and a note about the diversity of citizen science across scientific areas. We then introduce the three areas that the book covers in its sections: policy, society, and science. We start with policy and the way in which citizen science is being integrated into government operations and policies, with an example of the process in Germany. We then move to the societal contributions – such as outreach to new communities that are under-represented, or linkage to the higher-education system; Finally, we discuss the link between citizen science and Open Science. We then describe the different sections of the book and the logic of organising the chapters in the way they are, and finally cover the extensive set of case studies that are included in the book – One of the elements that we focused on during the development of the book so it includes a large number of them.

I am very happy that the chapter is opening with a quotation from Sharman apt Russel’s Diary of a Citizen Scientist (p. 14): “This is renaissance, your dentist now an authority on butterflies and you (in retrospect this happened so pleasantly, watching clouds one afternoon) connected by Twitter to the National Weather Service. This is revolution, breaking down barriers between expert and amateur, with new collaborations across class and education. Pygmy hunters and gatherers use smartphones to document deforestation in the Congo Basin. High school students identify fossils in soils from ancient seas in upstate New York. Do-it-yourself biologists make centrifuges at home.

This is falling in love with the world, and this is science, and at the risk of sounding too much an idealist, I have come to believe they are the same thing.”

The chapter is freely accessible, on its own, from JSTOR, here

CitSciBookAuthors