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)


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

New PhD Opportunity: Human Computer Interaction and Spatial Data Quality for Online Civic Engagement

We have a new scholarship opening at the Extreme Citizen Science group for a PhD student who will research in Human Computer Interaction and Spatial Data Quality for Online Civic Engagement. The studentship is linked and contextualised by the European Union H2020 funded project, WeGovNow! . This project will focus on the use of digital technologies for effectively supporting civic society, whereby citizens are partners as opposed to customers in the delivery of public services. By integrating a set of innovative technologies from different European partners in Germany, Italy, and Greece to create citizen engagement platform, the project explores the use of digital tools for citizen reporting, e-participation, and communication between the citizen and local government. Building on previous research and technology development, the project will include programme of innovation in technology and services delivery. More information on the UCL ExCiteS blog

Source: New PhD Opportunity