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Oct 11, 2021 Article
Awareness, views and experiences of Citizen Science among Swedish researchers — two surveys

by Pavel Bína, Fredrik Brounéus, Dick Kasperowski, Niclas Hagen, Martin Bergman, Gustav Bohlin, Mari Jönsson, Stephen Coulson and Tim Hofmeester

In 2021 Sweden’s first national portal for citizen science will be launched to help researchers practice sustainable and responsible citizen science with different societal stakeholders. This paper present findings from two surveys on attitudes and experiences of citizen science among researchers at Swedish universities. Both surveys provided input to the development of the national portal, for which researchers are a key stakeholder group. The first survey (n=636) was exclusively focused on citizen science and involved researchers and other personnel at Swedish University of Agricultural Science (SLU). 63% of respondents at SLU had heard about citizen science (CS) prior to the survey; however a majority of these (61%) had not been involved in any CS initiative themselves. Dominant reasons for researchers choosing a CS approach in projects were to enable collection of large amounts of data (68%), improving the knowledge base (59%), improving data quality (25%), promote participants’ understanding in research (21%) and promote collaboration between the university and society (20%). The other survey (n=3 699) was on the broader topic of communication and open science, including questions on CS, and was distributed to researchers from all Swedish universities. 61% of respondents had not been engaged in any research projects where volunteers were involved in the process. A minority of the researchers had participated in projects were volunteers had collected data (18%), been involved in internal or external communication (16%), contributed project ideas (14%) and/or formulated research questions (11%). Nearly four out of ten respondents (37%) had heard about CS prior to the survey. The researchers were more positive towards having parts of the research process open to citizen observation, rather than open to citizen influence/participation. Our results show that CS is a far from well-known concept among Swedish researchers. And while those who have heard about CS are generally positive towards it, researchers overall are hesitant to invite citizens to take part in the research process.

Volume 20 • Issue 06 • 2021 • Special Issue: Third International ECSA Conference, Trieste 2020