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Citizen Science

Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy

Susanne Hecker
Muki Haklay
Anne Bowser
Zen Makuch
Johannes Vogel
Aletta Bonn
Copyright Date: 2018
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  • Book Info
    Citizen Science
    Book Description:

    Citizen science, the active participation of the public in scientific research projects, is a rapidly expanding field in open science and open innovation. It provides an integrated model of public knowledge production and engagement with science. As a growing worldwide phenomenon, it is invigorated by evolving new technologies that connect people easily and effectively with the scientific community. Catalysed by citizens' wishes to be actively involved in scientific processes, as a result of recent societal trends, it also offers contributions to the rise in tertiary education. In addition, citizen science provides a valuable tool for citizens to play a more active role in sustainable development.

    This book identifies and explains the role of citizen science within innovation in science and society, and as a vibrant and productive science-policy interface. The scope of this volume is global, geared towards identifying solutions and lessons to be applied across science, practice and policy. The chapters consider the role of citizen science in the context of the wider agenda of open science and open innovation, and discuss progress towards responsible research and innovation, two of the most critical aspects of science today.

    eISBN: 978-1-78735-233-9
    Subjects: General Science, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. v-vi)
    Carlos Moedas

    The world is facing unprecedented social, environmental and economic challenges that will require policymakers, business, scientists and citizens to open up to one another and find new ways of collaborating. In our digital age, we are reinventing the way knowledge is produced, distributed and acted upon. And an approach based on citizen science will be part of this new relationship between science and society.

    The current increase in citizen science shows clearly the societal desire to participate more actively in knowledge production, knowledge assessment and decision-making. At the same time, scientists, research organisations and research funders are discovering the benefits...

  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Katrin Vohland, Claudia Göbel, Jennifer Shirk and Jessie Oliver
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. List of figures
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
  6. List of tables
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  7. List of contributors
    (pp. xxv-xxxviii)
  8. 1 Innovation in open science, society and policy – setting the agenda for citizen science
    (pp. 1-24)
    Susanne Hecker, Muki Haklay, Anne Bowser, Zen Makuch, Johannes Vogel and Aletta Bonn

    Citizen science is a rapidly growing field with expanding legitimacy. Often seen as a cluster of activities under a larger umbrella of concepts, including ‘open science’ and ‘open innovation’, citizen science expands public participation in science and supports alternative models of knowledge production. This includes strengthening scientific research by engaging with a variety of topics and information sources, and fostering cross- or trans-disciplinary knowledge production. Citizen science can expand stakeholder participation and introduce new perspectives and information as well as new partnerships. Many projects are opening up cutting-edge areas of science, such as gene editing and synthetic biology, to new...

  9. PART I Innovation in citizen science – setting the scene

    • 2 Ten principles of citizen science
      (pp. 27-40)
      Lucy Danielle Robinson, Jade Lauren Cawthray, Sarah Elizabeth West, Aletta Bonn and Janice Ansine

      The Ten Principles of Citizen Science were developed by an international community of citizen science practitioners and researchers to set out their shared view of the characteristics that underpin high-quality citizen science. They are currently available in 26 languages.

      The Ten Principles provide a framework against which to assess new and existing citizen science initiatives with the aim of fostering excellence in all aspects of citizen science.

      At a time when citizen science is rapidly expanding but not yet mainstreamed within traditional research or policy processes, the Ten Principles provide governments, decision-makers, researchers and project leaders with a common set...

    • 3 Scientific impacts and innovations of citizen science
      (pp. 41-51)
      Jennifer L. Shirk and Rick Bonney

      Citizen science makes distinct, novel and innovative contributions to scientific knowledge and can connect scientific research with public engagement to inform policy.

      Different scientific disciplines are advancing distinct research techniques, such as computational modelling, to draw useful insights from opportunistic datasets and technologies that support new approaches to engagement.

      New scientific knowledge can be gained when citizen science puts research in the hands of people who have insights and concerns previously not addressed by academia, NGOs or government agencies.

      Citizen science may be an optimal strategy to address policy priorities, including indicators and outcomes set by high-profile treaties such as...

    • 4 Participatory citizen science
      (pp. 52-62)
      Muki Haklay

      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...

    • 5 Technology infrastructure for citizen science
      (pp. 63-80)
      Peter Brenton, Stephanie von Gavel, Ella Vogel and Marie-Elise Lecoq

      Information technology (IT) infrastructure is a vital enabler of successful citizen science projects.

      There are numerous IT tools available to citizen science projects and navigating them can be confusing. When choosing tools, it is important to consider their compliance with applicable process and data standards, their ability to connect with the information supply chain and their fitness for the required use.

      The information and data generated by citizen science projects is likely to be their most enduring and impactful legacy if they are made publicly accessible in a timely manner and in a form which is suitable for multiple downstream...

    • 6 Evaluating citizen science: Towards an open framework
      (pp. 81-96)
      Barbara Kieslinger, Teresa Schäfer, Florian Heigl, Daniel Dörler, Anett Richter and Aletta Bonn

      Evaluation concepts for citizen science are required both by policymakers, to improve citizen science funding schemes and by project initiatives, to enhance their project management.

      Citizen science programmes should be evaluated along three dimensions of participatory science: (i) scientific impact, (ii) learning and empowerment of participants and (iii) impact for wider society.

      Evaluation and impact assessment should embrace the diversity and emerging nature of citizen science.

      An open framework for evaluation can be adapted and tailored to the specific goals of citizen science programmes.

      An exponential rise in citizen science projects is currently taking place (Kullenberg & Kasperowski 2016), bringing innovation...

  10. PART II Innovation in science with and for society

    • 7 Watching or being watched: Enhancing productive discussion between the citizen sciences, the social sciences and the humanities
      (pp. 99-109)
      Dana Mahr, Claudia Göbel, Alan Irwin and Katrin Vohland

      The growing success and take-up of citizen science needs to be accompanied by increased reflexiveness in the field.

      Social science and humanities research shows that citizen science has a broad history and brings important alternative perspectives on the relationship between science and society.

      Better collaboration between citizen science and the social sciences and humanities, especially Science and Technology Studies (STS), should be facilitated to the benefit of all parties.

      Citizen science reshapes hopes for a democratisation of scientific knowledge production through the empowerment of grassroots initiatives to conduct research. At the same time, more and more professional scientists, scientific institutions...

    • 8 The value of indigenous and local knowledge as citizen science
      (pp. 110-123)
      Finn Danielsen, Neil D. Burgess, Indiana Coronado, Martin Enghoff, Sune Holt, Per M. Jensen, Michael K. Poulsen and Ricardo M. Rueda

      International policies require land management to be informed not only by scientific but also by indigenous and local knowledge.

      A major challenge is how to use, and quality-assure, information derived from different knowledge systems.

      Possible data collection and validation methods include focus groups with community members and information collected on line transects by trained scientists.

      Both methods provide comparable data on natural resource abundance, but focus groups are eight times cheaper.

      Focus group approaches could increase the amount and geographical scope of information available for land management, while simultaneously empowering indigenous and local communities who generally have limited engagement in...

    • 9 Citizen engagement and collective intelligence for participatory digital social innovation
      (pp. 124-145)
      Jasminko Novak, Mathias Becker, François Grey and Rosy Mondardini

      Digital social innovation shares the basic ideas of citizen science, as well as the common challenge of motivating and structuring citizen engagement. However, it is different in scope, focus, forms of participation and impact.

      Digital social innovation explores new models where researchers, social innovators and citizen participants collaborate in co-creating knowledge and solutions for societal challenges.

      There are critical issues and effective practices in engaging citizens as knowledge brokers and co-designers of solutions to societal challenges, which should inform the design and implementation of new projects and approaches.

      As citizen science matures, it finds itself part of a growing plethora...

    • 10 Creative collaboration in citizen science and the evolution of ThinkCamps
      (pp. 146-167)
      Margaret Gold and Erinma Ochu

      Creative collaboration events foster co-creation, co-design and collaborative thinking at key points in the citizen science research cycle. They can help to grow science capital and thus deliver on the principles of citizen science.

      Such events can be held at any or all stages of the project lifecycle, from initial development to sharing outcomes.

      The hybrid ThinkCamp event format is well-suited to citizen science and can diversify participation, support knowledge sharing and engage a wider audience in the development of new ideas and projects.

      ThinkCamps can support engagement with policymakers to bring community-based citizen science initiatives into the fold of...

    • 11 Integrating citizen science into university
      (pp. 168-182)
      Daniel Wyler and Muki Haklay

      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.

      Research universities are usually seen as the place of...

  11. PART IIA Case studies

    • 12 Citizen science on the Chinese mainland
      (pp. 183-189)
      Chunming Li

      Public engagement and direct contribution to scientific activities in China are limited. Recently, advances in low-cost sensors (Volten et al. in this volume) and information technologies (Novak et al. in this volume), as well as an increase in the level of education across the population (Haklay in this volume), mean that more citizens have become involved in citizen science projects. This set of case studies demonstrates that China is witnessing activities across the spectrum of citizen science – from bird watching to air quality monitoring and from biological observations to volunteer computing.

      Bird watching is a popular activity in China...

    • 13 The European citizen science landscape – a snapshot
      (pp. 190-200)
      Susanne Hecker, Lisa Garbe and Aletta Bonn

      The increased importance of open science in the European Commission research policy makes it important to understand and analyse the development of the field. The Open Science Monitor of the European Commission is being developed to meet this need (European Commission 2017). In 2016, the authors conducted the first large-scale explorative survey of the European citizen science landscape to help establish a baseline for the monitor.

      The survey focused on five major areas of interest, including the types of citizen science projects being undertaken, their perceived impact and added value, challenges, current funding schemes for citizen science, and project outcomes....

    • 14 Stakeholder engagement in water quality research: A case study based on the Citclops and MONOCLE projects
      (pp. 201-209)
      Luigi Ceccaroni and Jaume Piera

      The participatory engagement of decision-makers, including policymakers, is one of the most important components of the planning and development of a citizen science initiative (Nascimento et al. in this volume). Meaningful engagement depends on the ability of the civic educators involved in citizen science to build a healthy, lasting and trusting relationship with decision-makers and local communities. The approaches developed by citizen science initiatives are intended to define and develop this process of engagement with decision-makers, often in the domain of environmental monitoring (see Owen & Parker in this volume).

      These approaches can be summarised in six steps:

      1. Stakeholder mapping;


    • 15 Global mosquito alert
      (pp. 210-216)
      John R.B. Palmer, Martin Brocklehurst, Elizabeth Tyson, Anne Bowser, Eleonore Pauwels and Frederic Bartumeus

      An exciting recent development in citizen science has been the emergence of a variety of projects to fight disease-vector mosquitoes. These projects have shown that citizens can play an important role in alleviating the global burden of the diseases these mosquitoes transmit, but the projects are mostly limited to a handful of countries and have yet to benefit much of the world’s most heavily mosquito-affected regions. The Global Mosquito Alert Consortium (GMAC) seeks to change that. The initiative is bringing diverse citizen science projects together to tackle disease-vector mosquitoes worldwide.

      The re-emergence and global spread of vector-borne diseases during the...

  12. PART III Innovation at the science-policy interface

    • 16 Citizen science for policy formulation and implementation
      (pp. 219-240)
      Susana Nascimento, Jose Miguel Rubio Iglesias, Roger Owen, Sven Schade and Lea Shanley

      Citizen science offers an effective way to connect citizens and policy, bringing societal and economic as well as scientific and political benefits.

      Citizen science has the potential to impact local and national decision-making, empower citizens and lead to better, more transparent government.

      Citizens can get involved by taking part in science-related processes and by understanding and guiding the changes taking place around them.

      Consistent with European Citizen Science Association’s Principle 10, current challenges preventing greater take-up of citizen science include diverse legislation, resistance from professional scientists, managing the expectations of participants and data comparability.

      Citizen science, powered by mobile, online...

    • 17 Citizen science and Responsible Research and Innovation
      (pp. 241-253)
      Melanie Smallman

      Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is emerging as a key approach to mediating the relationship between science and society to tackle social challenges.

      Citizen science has both overlaps with, and divergences from, RRI.

      Citizen science could learn lessons from RRI approaches and processes especially in terms of meaningful citizen participation.

      A more responsible citizen science would need to engage with issues of participation, agenda-setting (including power relations) and acting responsibly – and collectively.

      Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), a cross-cutting theme of the European Commission (EC) Horizon 2020 programme, is emerging as a key approach to mediating the relationship between...

    • 18 Conservation outcomes of citizen science
      (pp. 254-268)
      Heidi L. Ballard, Tina B. Phillips and Lucy Robinson

      Different models of citizen science (contributory, collaborative and co-created) can contribute to different types of conservation outcomes.

      Contributory projects, often with large spatial and temporal-scale datasets, may be most likely to contribute to conservation indirectly via research.

      Collaborative and co-created projects, which often include intensive involvement of participants in local conservation issues, may be more likely to contribute directly to site and species management, as well as indirectly via education and capacity building.

      Citizen science project leaders can employ a theory of change approach to design and execute citizen science programmes to achieve conservation outcomes.

      As environmental problems mount and...

    • 19 Capacity building in citizen science
      (pp. 269-283)
      Anett Richter, Daniel Dörler, Susanne Hecker, Florian Heigl, Lisa Pettibone, Fermin Serrano Sanz, Katrin Vohland and Aletta Bonn

      Strategic capacity-building programmes have been initiated at the European and national scale leading to the development of the Socientize Green and White Paper for Citizen Science in Europe and theGreenpaper Citizen Science Strategy 2020 for Germany.

      These programmes have broader relevance in informing national and supranational programmes elsewhere in the world.

      Capacity building involves five main steps: (1) identifying and engaging different actors, (2) assessing capacities and needs for citizen science in the setting under focus, (3) developing a vision, missions and action plans, (4) developing resources such as websites and guidance, as well as (5) implementation and evaluation...

    • 20 Citizen science in environmental protection agencies
      (pp. 284-300)
      Roger P. Owen and Alison J. Parker

      Environmental protection agencies (EPAs) in Europe and the United States are increasingly making use of citizen science for environmental protection, including engaging the public and awareness-raising, empowering action by communities, monitoring and data collection, and providing sound evidence on which to make decisions.

      To increase the impact of citizen science for environmental protection, improvements are needed in data management and infrastructure support, communication of data quality, sensor development and communication with citizen science data providers.

      Innovations in technology and organisational practices are enabling a citizen-agency dialogue based on good data and feedback on use of evidence. Citizen science has the...

  13. PART IV Innovation in technology and environmental monitoring

    • 21 Citizen science technologies and new opportunities for participation
      (pp. 303-320)
      Suvodeep Mazumdar, Luigi Ceccaroni, Jaume Piera, Franz Hölker, Arne J. Berre, Robert Arlinghaus and Anne Bowser

      New technologies supporting data collection, data processing and visualisation, and the communication of ideas and results create a wide range of opportunities for participation in citizen science.

      Technologies are especially beneficial for opening additional channels for public involvement in research, allowing participants to contribute through a range of activities and engaging newer audiences.

      There is a range of existing resources to help project co-ordinators develop and maintain citizen science technologies.

      It is important to consider issues such as participant demographics, affordability and access, and fitness for purpose when selecting technologies.

      In the latter part of the nineteenth century, there was...

    • 22 Maximising the impact and reuse of citizen science data
      (pp. 321-336)
      Jamie Williams, Colin Chapman, Didier Guy Leibovici, Grégoire Loïs, Andreas Matheus, Alessandro Oggioni, Sven Schade, Linda See and Paul Pieter Lodewijk van Genuchten

      Open data and open standards promote interoperability, which in turn allows citizen science data to be more widely discovered and used.

      Data reliability is essential for citizen science data to be trusted and align with environmental regulation and monitoring requirements from governments.

      Contextualising data with metadata, including descriptions of their purpose and methods of dataset creation, allows users to evaluate their possible reuse.

      Reuse of project results is ensured through the use of open data, open standards and by having good data reliability, metadata and documentation.

      There is an increasing number and diversity of citizen science projects, which can potentially...

    • 23 Enhancing national environmental monitoring through local citizen science
      (pp. 337-352)
      Hester Volten, Jeroen Devilee, Arnoud Apituley, Linda Carton, Michel Grothe, Christoph Keller, Frank Kresin, Anne Land-Zandstra, Erik Noordijk, Edith van Putten, Jeroen Rietjens, Frans Snik, Erik Tielemans, Jan Vonk, Marita Voogt and Joost Wesseling

      Citizens are highly motivated to contribute to air quality measurements that complement existing measurement networks because of their high spatio-temporal resolution;

      Data needs to be assimilated, for example, using models;

      Low-cost sensors need to be developed further, and their application calibrated and validated;

      Easily accessible expert information and feedback is needed to support participants;

      Environment protection agencies (EPAs) can both support and benefit from citizen science using small sensor networks.

      A key motivation for national environmental protection agencies (EPAs) to support and participate in citizen science is to allow these knowledge institutes to get out of the well-known scientific ‘ivory...

    • 24 Citizen science to monitor light pollution – a useful tool for studying human impacts on the environment
      (pp. 353-366)
      Sibylle Schroer, Christopher C.M. Kyba, Roy van Grunsven, Irene Celino, Oscar Corcho and Franz Hölker

      The alteration of light levels at night is a recent environmental change, which has become an increasing threat to nocturnal landscapes.

      Guidelines for illumination focus primarily on aesthetics, safety, security and energy efficiency. A policy shift towards considering the impact of light on ecosystems and health requires a sound transdisciplinary and supraregional approach.

      Citizen science projects could analyse changes in nighttime brightness worldwide, offer participation in various other scientific areas, and increase public awareness.

      Light pollution can be a unifying entry point for other environmental problems, connecting projects about the impact of human activities.

      In previous decades, the use of...

  14. PART V Innovation in science communication and education

    • 25 Science for everybody? Bridging the socio-economic gap in urban biodiversity monitoring
      (pp. 367-380)
      Taru Peltola and Isabelle Arpin

      Citizen science has the potential to bring societal benefits, but inclusivity is not an automatic outcome.

      The degree of inclusivity varies depending on the techniques used to involve citizens.

      Affective techniques can involve less experienced and less privileged participants.

      Addressing participants as individuals, with different learning abilities and skills, and the collective dynamics of learning are key to increased inclusivity.

      Successful techniques broaden the role of participants, address their concerns and support ownership of the learning process.

      In addition to scientific outcomes, citizen science often aims to achieve broader societal relevance and benefits, such as science education, empowerment or enhanced...

    • 26 Learning and developing science capital through citizen science
      (pp. 381-390)
      Richard Edwards, Sarah Kirn, Thomas Hillman, Laure Kloetzer, Katherine Mathieson, Diarmuid McDonnell and Tina Phillips

      Increased attention is focused on how to support and evaluate participation and learning through citizen science.

      The dimensions of science capital provide a new framework through which to consider participation and learning.

      The links between volunteers’ prior level of educational qualifications and disciplines studied, and the learning they report from contributing to citizen science are not uniform across projects.

      The levels and dimensions of volunteers’ engagement and learning do not always reflect the intentions of citizen science project designers.

      Inclusiveness and learning are two concepts underpinning the principles of citizen science put forward by the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA)....

    • 27 Children and citizen science
      (pp. 391-409)
      Karen E. Makuch and Miriam R. Aczel

      Children can both learn from and contribute to citizen science. Scientific learning can develop children’s environmental citizenship, voices and democratic participation as adults.

      The quality of data produced by children varies across projects and can be assumed to be of poorer quality because of their age, experience and less-developed skill set.

      If citizen science activities are appropriately designed they can be accessible to all children, which can also improve their accessibility to a wider range of citizens in general.

      To date, a cursory examination of the literature tells us that a large number of citizen science projects have been, or...

    • 28 Turning students into citizen scientists
      (pp. 410-428)
      John Harlin, Laure Kloetzer, Dan Patton, Chris Leonhard and Leysin American School high school students

      Schools can introduce vast numbers of citizens to participatory science.

      Students feel more engaged in their learning by participating in genuine scientific investigations where they are contributing to world knowledge.

      Citizen science projects offer opportunities for teacher professional development.

      Teachers have many opportunities to merge their curriculum with citizen science projects.

      Teachers need support in efficiently finding projects that fit their immediate classroom needs.

      Citizen science is growing in popularity, but most attention focuses on adult volunteers and their potential contribution to science and society. This disregards the millions of children studying science in school as they learn the skills...

    • 29 Citizen science and the role of natural history museums
      (pp. 429-444)
      Andrea Sforzi, John Tweddle, Johannes Vogel, Grégoire Lois, Wolfgang Wägele, Poppy Lakeman-Fraser, Zen Makuch and Katrin Vohland

      Historically, natural history museums (NHMs) have a long history of collaboration with the amateur-expert naturalist community. A tradition of two-way knowledge sharing that continues today.

      Over time, NHMs have renewed their functions within society and assumed a relevance not only for the conservation of collections, but also for engaging society in the generation of new scientific awareness and understanding of the natural world.

      Natural history museums now deliver a wide range of field-based and online citizen science projects and play a central role in supporting the development of citizen science and citizen scientists.

      Natural history museums have also taken a...

    • 30 Stories can change the world – citizen science communication in practice
      (pp. 445-462)
      Susanne Hecker, Monique Luckas, Miriam Brandt, Heidy Kikillus, Ilona Marenbach, Bernard Schiele, Andrea Sieber, Arnold J.H. van Vliet, Ulrich Walz and Wolfgang Wende

      There has been a paradigm change from a one-way transfer of science information to a paradigm of exchange that demands adequate science communication.

      Communication in citizen science projects is key to motivating and retaining participants and exchanging information.

      Stories can play an important role in translating the abstract and logic scientific discourse into a concrete, emotion-related narrative of societal relevance.

      Communication and media coverage improves the chance of scientific expertise and knowledge influencing policy-making.

      Innovative collaboration between science and the media can benefit both partners – attracting participants to citizen science projects and generating media stories.

      Storytelling and visualisation are...

  15. Conclusions

    • 31 Citizen science to foster innovation in open science, society and policy
      (pp. 465-484)
      Aletta Bonn, Susanne Hecker, Anne Bowser, Zen Makuch, Johannes Vogel and Muki Haklay

      Citizen science advances open science by operating at the interface of science, society and policy. As a result, its influence is growing in societal decision-making processes, including government policy. Citizen science has a long history and has recently entered a renaissance through expanded governance models, progressive education curricula, novel technologies and enhanced interest in open and participatory science. The chapters and extended case studies in this volume, contributed by authors from around the globe, provide new insight into the impacts, challenges, benefits and opportunities brought by citizen science.

      The collection has identified the following key themes in citizen science (see...

  16. References
    (pp. 485-526)
  17. Index
    (pp. 527-542)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 543-543)