This survey will present you stories about different forms of public participation in research. Different activities within this area of public participation in research are now called “citizen science” and we would like to hear what your opinion is about each activity.
As you go through these cases, we ask you to consider “To what degree would you identify this as citizen science?” We encourage you to consider your own opinions and views – there are no correct or incorrect ways of assessing every case. Your views matter!
We will ask you to decide to what degree the case that you have read describes a citizen science activity and your level of confidence about your decision. Because the cases are presented in a random order you can do as many stories as you wish and the results will be valuable for the study – please indicate in the checkbox that you want to complete the survey and submit your response.
The only identifiable information that we ask from you is your email address, in case we need to follow up on any of the qualitative answers you provide. The email address will not be related to any other analysis and will be discarded within 3 months.
For each story that is presented, you will be asked to set a slider to a level that matches your view about the degree that the described case should be considered as a citizen science activity, as well as describing your level of confidence. You will also see an option to state if you want to describe the activity or explain your decision, as this can help us in developing the characteristics.
Please do as many stories as you wish – ten, twenty or all – the stories are presented in randomised order, the survey is designed so that you can come back to it later if you wish, or you can decide at any stage to leave. Any number of evaluations will be valuable.
Reading all 50 cases can take up to 60 minutes, and we know that this is a very big commitment. Please feel free to stop at any point – your results will be useful even if you complete only a few cases (as they are displayed in a different order to different people). You can click “exit” at the top, the link will be saved and you can then come back and complete the study with the same link.
Shortly after the conference, Aletta Bonn and Susanne Hecker, who coordinated it, suggested the development of a book that will capture the breadth of the field of citizen science that the conference exposed. Within a month, the editorial team which include Susanne Hecker, Anne Bowser, Zen Makuch, Johannes Vogel, Aletta Bonn, and myself started to work on the concept of the book and the appropriate publisher. We were committed to publishing the book as open access so it can be read by anyone who wishes it without limitations, and also so the chapters from it can be used widely. By publishing with UCL Press, which agreed to publish the book without charges, we had additional resources that we have used to work with Madeleine Hatfield of Yellowbackto ensure that the book chapters are well edited and readable,and with Olaf Herling, a Berlin graphic designer, who helped us in developing and realising the graphic design of the book.
The chapters made quite a journey – they were submitted in late 2016, and were peer-reviewed and revised by mid-2017. As always with such an effort, there is a complex process of engaging over 120 authors, the review process, and then the need to get a revised version of the chapters. This required the editorial team to coordinate the communication with the authors and encourage them to submit the chapters (with the unavoidable extensions!). Once the chapters were in their revised form, they continued to be distilled – first with comments from the editorial guidance by Madeleine, but also with suggestions from Mark Chandler from Earthwatch, who provided us with an additional review of the book as a whole.
Susanne Hecker, the lead editor, put in a lot of time into communicating with the authors, the publishers, and the professional editors. Even as late as two months ago, we had the need to check the final proofs and organise the index. All that is now done and the book is out.
The book contains 31 chapters that cover many aspects of citizen science – from the integration of activities to schools and universities to case studies in different parts of the world.
Here is what we set out to achieve: “This book brings together experts from science, society and practice to highlight and debate the importance of citizen science from a scientific, social and political perspective and demonstrate the innovation potential. World-class experts will provide a review of our current state of knowledge and practical experience of citizen science and the delivery of will be reviewed and possible solutions to future management and conservation will be given. The book critically assesses the scientific and societal impact to embed citizen science in research as well as society.
The aim of this volume is to identify opportunities and challenges for scientific innovation. This includes discussions about the impact of citizen science at the science-policy interface, the innovative potential of citizen science for scientific research, as well as possible limitations. The emphasis will be to identify solutions to fostering a vibrant science community into a changing future, with actors from academia and society. Five main sections are envisaged with an editorial introduction and a thorough final synthesis to frame the book.
Innovation in Science: What are the governance and policy frameworks that will facilitate embedding citizen science in agenda setting, design and data collection of research projects and communication? What are innovation opportunities and challenges and where support is needed? How to ensure data quality and IP rights?
Innovation at the Science-Policy interface: What are the opportunities for citizen science to provide an input to better decision making? How is participation ensured across society and how does it lead to enhanced problem-solving?
Innovation in Society: How can citizen science lead to empowerment and enhanced scientific literacy and increase science capital? What is the social transformation potential impact of citizen science?
Innovation in Technology and Environmental Monitoring: What policy and technical issues citizen science and mobile sensor technology bring? How can it contribute to advances in environmental monitoring within existing and emerging regulations? What policy and practical framework can facilitate or harm this?
Innovation in Science Communication and Education: How have new media transformed science and what are the implication to scientists, public and science funders? How can new techniques open new opportunities and to whom? ”
The final book does not follow these exact sections, but the topics and questions are the same.
The workshop, which was organised by Soledad Luna and Ulrike Sturm from the Berlin Museum for Natural History, has led to a second output – a chapter in the book Multimedia Tools and Applications for Environmental & Biodiversity Informatics. The invitation for contributions came at the right time with the first workshop in December 2016. The Chapter was completed in August 2017 and finally came out at the beginning of the month. A year from submission to getting it in press, which is fairly common in academic publications.
The chapter is different from the journal article, in providing more detailed examples of applications, and summarising aspects of systems in use and data standards that can be applied.
The abstract of the paper is:
The functionality available on modern ‘smartphone’ mobile devices, along with mobile application software and access to the mobile web, have opened up a wide range of ways for volunteers to participate in environmental and biodiversity research by contributing wildlife and environmental observations, geospatial information, and other context-specific and time-bound data. This has brought about an increasing number of mobile phone based citizen science projects that are designed to access these device features (such as the camera, the microphone, and GPS location data), as well as to reach different user groups, over different project durations, and with different aims and goals. In this chapter we outline a number of key considerations when designing and developing mobile applications for citizen science, with regard to (1) interoperability and data standards, (2) participant centred design and agile development, (3) user interface & user experience design, and (4) motivational factors for participation.
Notes from the European Citizen Science Association Conference in Geneva, 4-5 June. Welcome to the conference! Katrin Vohland, ECSA Vice Chair, (DE) – conferences started from volunteering by Science et Cité two years ago. ECSA has been growing through participation in projects, and this allows ECSA to do things such as the conference and other networking activities – including Doing It Together Science, LandSense, and D-Noses, as well as the COST Action. The first H2020 application that was coordinated by ECSA is out and waiting for a decision. We can project different aspects to citizen science – see it between healing promise and ignorance – policymakers are paying attention it, and some are hoping that it will help in linking science and society. But participation information shows that we have involvement of the educated elite and this requires attention to inclusiveness. There is also the Neoliberal trap – competition and monetisation are appearing in academia, in concepts of nature, and citizen science is somewhere in between – participants carry out their work for free but it is also providing space for doing science that is not linked to financial constraints which can be seen as accepting such condition. However, how citizen science can provide new routes for science? ECSA is one expression of the concept of Europe – cross-national system, and it is a way of strengthening European networks. There are now increasing the range of network, such as the global citizen science partnership.
Thomas Zeltner, President of the Foundation Science et Cité,
ECSA2018 Team, (CH) – on behalf of the local organisation: welcoming participants. The conference is a public and private partnership which we can see in the sponsorship. Science et Cité celebrate 20 years – communicating and dialoguing the part of science, art, society linkage in Switzerland. It is the importance of having a dialogue between science and society. Authoritarian regimes don’t need science – they do what they want, whereas, in a democracy, we need dialogue between public and science and providing evidence to help progressing issues. Switzerland direct democracy put in questions such as prescribing heroin to drug addicts which are complex issue – and with appropriate communication, there was a vote for it, and then issues about deciding how that happens, and this involved the local public of the centres reporting about their experience. A lot of issues are about this science/society dialogue – science finds new answers for the future, and bring them to the political debate. The organisation is now working in three domains: face to face interactions – scientists need to expose themselves to the public, and learn about the public, while the public understands the person behind the science. Second, using social networks technologies to create a dialogue between science and the public. Finally, learning networks – need for universities and research to learn how to communicate with the public.
#ECSA2018 one way we scientists manage to annoy involved communities is get too involved in writing grant proposals while forgetting to talk enough with the very people we want to work with. Useful reminder to all of us here. pic.twitter.com/GUllh9AWOt
"We need to think critically of inclusion and empowerment. Do people want to be included on your group? Or do they want to work in collaboration but on their own? the best way to know is to listen." Shanon Dosemagen #publiclab#ECSA2018pic.twitter.com/wi5AaIkbhG
An experience of integrating communities in rural areas that don’t have access to resources. a lot of the work end being analougue to address gaps in technology ability and use – solid plan on how things will continue. The difference between equity and equality you can see different people that are supported in different ways – for example working closely with people that are in disadvantage and not treating them in the same way as everyone else. The engagement of scientists – there are valuable things that can come from the classroom and guidance ahead of time, and helping students to drop layers of expertise and listen and learn. What is the answer about the risk and challenge to professional researchers? the source for the reduction in journalism is not because of citizen journalism and the change in data production by communities is not about challenging journalism but adressing journalism deserts
Speed Talks: Education & Learning I
Julie Sheard DK Get them while they’re young – an effort in Denmark to identify invasive speicies. Experiments in which young people are involved in collecting samples of ants and then send them to the museum for idntification. They’ve done an effort of outreach, with lots of experiments that involve schools – 356 experiments that involved thousands of people. Children can do science and wotking with knowledgable staff incrases participation, it can help working with other organisations.
Lucy Robinson et al. UK Learn CitSci: Exploring youth learning – through participation in CS – presenting as part of a wider partnerships. what and how young people learn in citizen science. The Natural History Museum are good places to link learning to citizen science. Potential to have a wider role in society. The question is about the impact of the learning programme. The current project look at online, direct learning and use observations and learning analytics. For the participation they use the Envrionmental Science Agency – for example, someone joins the project, understand science content and norms, then developing roles and science practice – supporting new participants and finally studying astronomy. Cultural-Historical Activity Theory looks at different aspects of the learning process. They will be use the ability of three museums to design new activities and then see how this will work and the project linking educational research with practitioners who are running citizen science projects.
Tania Jenkins – Evoke project which is a project about scientific literacy: important about dealing with different issues – for most people evolution don’t necessarily make sense. It is a cornerstone of modern biology – “nothing in biology make sense except in the light of evolution” and want to show that evolution is relevant for decisions of food, managing the environment and so on. There different stakeholders – researchers, evolutionary researchers, etc. The eVoKE project brought 90 people from 15 countries and grown to over 250 people in 31 countries and ideas that grow to 7 associated projects – including evolution Megalab.org was reignited.
Silvia Winter AT CS in the classroom: empowering students – personal experience in Austria in a biodiversity area. Mentioned many challenges in school context – the students are not completely volunteering, logistic limitations, and other challenges. The strengths include the students enjoy observing and exploring nature, especially charismatic species. Typical tasks include different roles of teachers – from identifying the activity to dealing with logistics. An online survey of 581 biology teachers show 51% working on biodiversity projects, and they had to deal with little interest of students, high workload nad other challenges. There was a specific teaching programme in Austria to teach teachers on citizen science. There are different success factors – the commitment of the teachers is crucial, there is a need to identify something that can be observed, that the task is clear. It is possible to offer training courses.
Dialogue Session: National & International Networks
Gisela Wachinger DEHow can scientists aid citizens to ensure their contributions matter in scientific research? examples of projects across the research cycle and understanding the issues of quality control, thinking about the gap between citizens and scientists. Different experiences and issues of belief, interests etc. The job of the scientists should help to make the data better. OPAL as an example of top-down and bottom-up, which happen because of non-traditional funding source. Need to consider in-between people. All scientists are citizens but in science we are nomadic – because of the citizenship that we bring to the table.
Francisco Sanz ESSpanish actions on CS at national level– exploring the national plans and projects, and how it is developing. A national project in Spain to look at issues of communication plan, technical support and learning from other areas projects.
Daniel Dörler et al. AT Österreich forscht: the Austrian CS platform – started with roadkil and as a phD student wanted help in establishing citizen science (florian), there were a lot of project on volunteering in science and contact other related project and used the term to invite other people – from 9 projects in 2015 to 50, now go funding to carry out the work. 30% from humanities and social science – appeared in the conference that they carried out. The conference to exchange experience of project coordinators. The early part was actively searching for project, and now people are joining in and there is a collabortion with the government backed platform for citizen science. The centre of citizen science only publish projects that they are funding (by the government) and the network is doing it for the whole countries. Most people who get in touch with the platform want to get more participants and from the knowledge on how to communicate, how to engage, there are also working groups on quality, but also on other issues. In annual meeting they ask for things and work in a do-ocracy: expecting people to invest. One position and not much funding but a lot of volunteering effort. There is a working group on open data. There is an open access, and
David Ziegler DE Bürger schaffen Wissen – the platform for citizen science in Germany. Information about the project can be found through search engine, sharing newsletters, helping projects through science communication, linking to scientific issues to the scientists who can asnwer. Funded by the ministry of research and education – as projects: 3 years every time. Also working on building a coalition to support the future of citizen science in Germany. One full time communication person, and half time researcher, budget below 200,000 EUR as direct funding, and the growth of the field is creating a challenge. There are more projects that apply to be part of the platform than the ability to absorb them, check them that they are bone fide. 102 projects, and some project finished – 3000 unique visitors a month. 40% of projects don’t have university or resarch organisations that join in. Organise a conference once a year – citizen science forum, 2016 – 180, 2017 – 120, expecting 200 this year, and high turnover in terms of participation in the forum. There is less
Alison Parker et al. US CS at US Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology. An advisory body for the US EPA, ther are barriers of figuring out the resources and the vision to carry out citizen science in the organisation. This is a complex topic to understand in different situation. There are views about putting power to people and giving them the responsibility to deal with their issues. There are different roles of environmental protection agency – for example the UK environment gency have been looked t citizen science and using it for investigation, and the goal is to collect the data to integrate data from citizen sciecne and other bodies. The EA get more information than what they have, especially with their funding. The Scottish EPA has committed to strategically include citizen science, similarly in Finland that moved into the way the organisation work. Citizen science might give you data that you might don’t want – need to be clear about the two way information from the organisation to people. Matching citizen science that reduce regulation costs while providing support to reduce risk
From time to time, there are opportunities to become a co-author with a lot of people that you are very happy to be associated with – to demonstrate a shared piece of work that represents a common understanding. The participation in the first European Citizen Science Association conference in 2016 created such an opportunity, with a paper that was written by a core group of people from the organising committee and keynote speakers. The paper “Innovation in Citizen Science – Perspectives on Science-Policy Advances” is a report of the issues that were covered in the conference and the lessons and recommendations that emerge from it. The list of authors is impressive: Susanne Hecker , Rick Bonney, Muki Haklay, Franz Hölker, Heribert Hofer, Claudia Goebel, Margaret Gold, Zen Makuch, Marisa Ponti, Anett Richter, Lucy Robinson, Jose Rubio Iglesias, Roger Owen, Taru Peltola, Andrea Sforzi, Jennifer Shirk, Johannes Vogel, Katrin Vohland, Thorsten Witt, and Aletta Bonn.
The writing was led by Susanne Hecker (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ / German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig) and also led to an innovation in the journal “Citizen Science: Theory and Practice” by creating the space to report meetings. There is a long tradition in science of producing meeting’s reports, and there is an assumption that this is now obsolete in the age of blogs – but this paper provides the demonstration that this is incorrect. First, the paper provides a clearer and well-structured statement of the event and its outcomes. Unlike blogs, it is appearing two years after the event, but this also means that the content needs to stand the test of time and point to the long-term outcomes from the event. Secondly, the longer period of editing and the process of peer review made the paper a better record of the event.
Citizen science is growing as a field of research with contributions from diverse disciplines, promoting innovation in science, society, and policy. Inter- and transdisciplinary discussions and critical analyses are needed to use the current momentum to evaluate, demonstrate, and build on the advances that have been made in the past few years. This paper synthesizes results of discussions at the first international citizen science conference of the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) in 2016 in Berlin, Germany, and distills major points of the discourse into key recommendations. To enhance innovation in science, citizen science needs to clearly demonstrate its scientific benefit, branch out across disciplines, and foster active networking and new formats of collaboration, including true co-design with participants. For fostering policy advances, it is important to embrace opportunities for policy-relevant monitoring and policy development and to work with science funders to find adequate avenues and evaluation tools to support citizen science. From a society angle it is crucial to engage with societal actors in various formats that suit participants and to evaluate two-way learning outcomes as well as to develop the transformative role of science communication. We hope that these key perspectives will promote citizen science progress at the science-society-policy interface.
However, if you are not familiar with large-scale environmental management, where it is widely used since the mid-1990s, you’re not expected to know about it. It got its critics, but continue to be considered as an important policy tool. DPSIR start by thinking about driving forces – trends or mega-trends that are influencing the ecosystem that you’re looking at. The drivers lead to specific pressures, for example, pollution or habitat fragmentation. To understand the pressures, we need to monitor and understand the state of the system – this is lots of time where citizen science and sensing data are used. Next, we can understand the potential impacts and then think of policy responses. So far, hopefully clear? You can read more about DPSIR here.
I haven’t come across the use of DPSIR outside the environmental area (but maybe there is?). However, as I was thinking about it, as we prepared for the meeting, I suggested that we give it a go as a way to consider strategic actions and work for ECSA. It turns out that DPSIR is a very good tool for organisational development! It allowed us to have a 20 minutes session in which we could think about external trends, and then translate them into a concrete action. Here is an example (made up, of course, I can’t disclose details from a facilitated meeting…). I’m marking positive things, from the point of view of the organisation, as (+) and negative as (-).
Let’s think of a citizen science coordination society (CitScCoSo). in terms of drivers, an example will be “increase recognition of citizen science”, as Google Trends chart shows. Next, there are the pressures which include (-) the growth in other organisations that are dedicated to citizen science and compete with CitScCoSo, which mean that it will need to work harder to maintain its position, (+) increase in requests to participate in activities, projects, meetings, talks etc which will create opportunity to raise profile and recognition. CitScCoSo current state can be that the organisation is funded for 5 more years and have a little spare capacity for other activities. The impacts can be (+) more opportunities for research funding and collaborations or, (-) demand for more office space for CitScCoSo (-) lack of IT infrastructure for internal organisational processes. Finally, all this analysis can help CitScCoSo in response – securing funding for more employees or a plan for growth.
When you do that on a flipchart with 5 columns for the DPSIR element, it becomes a rapid and creative process for people to work through.
As I pointed, a short exercise with ECSA board showed that this can work, and I hope that the outcomes are helpful to the organisation. I will be interested to hear if anyone else know of alternative applications of DPSIR…
‘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.
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! Projectis 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.
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.