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Apr 20, 2016 Article
Science learning via participation in online citizen science

by Karen Masters, Eun Young Oh, Joe Cox, Brooke Simmons, Chris Lintott, Gary Graham, Anita Greenhill and Kate Holmes

We investigate the development of scientific content knowledge of volunteers participating in online citizen science projects in the Zooniverse ( We use econometric methods to test how measures of project participation relate to success in a science quiz, controlling for factors known to correlate with scientific knowledge. Citizen scientists believe they are learning about both the content and processes of science through their participation. We don't directly test the latter, but we find evidence to support the former — that more actively engaged participants perform better in a project-specific science knowledge quiz, even after controlling for their general science knowledge. We interpret this as evidence of learning of science content inspired by participation in online citizen science.

Volume 15 • Issue 03 • 2016 • Special Issue: Citizen Science, Part II, 2016

Apr 20, 2016 Article
BioBlitzes help science communicators engage local communities in environmental research

by Erin Roger and Sarah Klistorner

There is growing recognition that effective science communication should not merely focus on addressing scientific literacy but must also open dialogue between scientists and the public, build trust, and increase public interest in environmental research. Citizen science BioBlitzes offer a useful approach for science communicators to address many of these key aims. We explore the BioBlitz concept, learnings and outcomes based on a case study of a BioBlitz held in Sydney, Australia. We found that participants valued learning about biodiversity on the day and importantly, all participants (scientists and citizen scientists) rated interacting and learning from the experience as one of the main benefits.

Volume 15 • Issue 03 • 2016 • Special Issue: Citizen Science, Part II, 2016

Apr 20, 2016 Article
Motivations, learning and creativity in online citizen science

by Charlene Jennett, Laure Kloetzer, Daniel Schneider, Ioanna Iacovides, Anna Cox, Margaret Gold, Brian Fuchs, Alexandra Eveleigh, Kathleen Mathieu, Zoya Ajani and Yasmin Talsi

Online citizen science projects have demonstrated their usefulness for research, however little is known about the potential benefits for volunteers. We conducted 39 interviews (28 volunteers, 11 researchers) to gain a greater understanding of volunteers' motivations, learning and creativity (MLC). In our MLC model we explain that participating and progressing in a project community provides volunteers with many indirect opportunities for learning and creativity. The more aspects that volunteers are involved in, the more likely they are to sustain their participation in the project. These results have implications for the design and management of online citizen science projects. It is important to provide users with tools to communicate in order to supporting social learning, community building and sharing.

Volume 15 • Issue 03 • 2016 • Special Issue: Citizen Science, Part II, 2016

Apr 20, 2016 Article
Understanding volunteer motivations to participate in citizen science projects: a deeper look at water quality monitoring

by Bethany Alender

Volunteer water quality monitors represent the intersection between citizen science and environmental stewardship. Understanding what motivates participation will enable project managers to improve recruitment and retention. This survey of 271 volunteers from eight water quality monitoring organizations in the U.S. found the strongest motivators to participate are helping the environment or community and contributing to scientific knowledge. No variation by gender was found, but younger volunteers have different motivations and preferences than older volunteers. Volunteers value the communication of tangible results more than recognition or reward.

Volume 15 • Issue 03 • 2016 • Special Issue: Citizen Science, Part II, 2016

Apr 20, 2016 Article
Crowdsourcing the Human Gut. Is crowdsourcing also 'citizen science'?

by Lorenzo Del Savio, Barbara Prainsack and Alena Buyx

The participation of non-professionally trained people in so-called citizen science (CS) projects is a much discussed topic at the moment. Frequently, however, the contribution of citizens is limited to only a few narrow tasks. Focusing on an initiative dedicated to the study of the human microbiome, this paper describes such a case where citizen participation is limited to the provision of funding, samples, and personal data. Researchers opted for a crowdsourced approaches because other forms of funding and recruitment did not seem feasible. We argue that despite the narrow understanding of participation in the context of some CS projects, they can address some of the democratic concerns related to scientific knowledge creation. For example, CS and crowdsourcing can help to foster dialogue between researchers and publics, and increase the influence of citizens on research agenda setting.

Volume 15 • Issue 03 • 2016 • Special Issue: Citizen Science, Part II, 2016

Apr 20, 2016 Article
Bringing citizen monitoring into land management: a case study of the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program

by Rowan Converse, Daniel Shaw, Kim Eichhorst and May Leinhart

Despite the rapid expansion of citizen-based monitoring, data from these programs remain underutilized by natural resource managers, perhaps due to quality and comparability issues. We present the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program as a case study of an initiative successfully meeting long-term monitoring needs of federal, state, tribal, and local natural resource managers, and informing public policy. To maximize potential for partnerships with managers, we recommend the creation of a five-year plan including scientific goals and financial solvency strategies prior to establishing a citizen science program, and offering multiple platforms for data-sharing and dialogue.

Volume 15 • Issue 03 • 2016 • Special Issue: Citizen Science, Part II, 2016

Apr 20, 2016 Editorial
From planning to motivations: citizen science comes to life

by Emma Weitkamp

This issue forms Part II of JCOM's collection of articles and essays exploring the field of citizen science. Here I introduce the articles in Part II, outlining how they contribute to our understanding of the ways that volunteers participate in citizen science projects, what motivates this participation and what learning arises as a result of participation.

Volume 15 • Issue 03 • 2016 • Special Issue: Citizen Science, Part II, 2016

Mar 17, 2016 Essay
Supporting emerging forms of citizen science: a plea for diversity, creativity and social innovation

by Teresa Schäfer and Barbara Kieslinger

In recent years, citizen science has gained popularity not only in the scientific community but also with the general public. The potential it projects in fostering an open and participatory approach to science, decreasing the distance between science and society, and contributing to the wider goal of an inclusive society is being explored by scientists, science communicators, educators, policy makers and related stakeholders. The public's participation in citizen science projects is still often reduced to data gathering and data manipulation such as classification of data. However, the citizen science landscape is much broader and diverse, inter alia due to the participation opportunities offered by latest ICT. The emergence of new forms of collaboration and grassroots initiatives is currently being experienced. In an open consultation process that led to the "White Paper on Citizen Science for Europe", the support of a wide range of project types and innovative forms of participation in science was requested. In this paper we argue for mechanisms that encourage a variety of approaches, promote emerging and creative concepts and widen the perspectives for social innovation.

Volume 15 • Issue 02 • 2016

Feb 24, 2016 Article
Understanding drivers, barriers and information sources for public participation in marine citizen science

by Vicki Martin, Les Christidis, David Lloyd and Gretta Pecl

Interviews were conducted with 110 marine users to elicit their salient beliefs about recording marine species in a citizen science project. The results showed that many interviewees believe participation would increase knowledge (either scientific, the community's, or their own). While almost half of the interviewees saw no negative outcomes, a small number expressed concerns about targeting of marine species by others, or restrictions on public access to marine sites. Most of the people surveyed (n = 106) emphasised the importance of well-designed technological interfaces to assist their data collection, without which they would be unlikely to engage in the project.

Volume 15 • Issue 02 • 2016

Jan 21, 2016 Article
Cell Spotting: educational and motivational outcomes of cell biology citizen science project in the classroom

by Cândida Silva, Antonio Jose Monteiro, Caroline Manahl, Eduardo Lostal, Teresa Schäfer, Nazareno Andrade, Francisco Brasileiro, Paulo Mota, Fermin Serrano Sanz, Jose Carrodeguas and Rui Brito

Success stories of citizen science projects widely demonstrate the value of this open science paradigm and encourage organizations to shift towards new ways of doing research. While benefits for researchers are clear, outcomes for individuals participating in these projects are not easy to assess. The wide spectrum of volunteers collaborating in citizen science projects greatly contributes to the difficulty in the evaluation of the projects' outcomes. Given the strong links between many citizen science projects and education, in this work we present an experience with hundreds of students (aged 15–18) of two different countries who participate in a project on cell biology research — Cell Spotting — as part of their regular classroom activities. Apart from introducing the project and resources involved, we aim to provide an overview of the benefits of integrating citizen science in the context of formal science education and of what teachers and students may obtain from it. In this case, besides helping students to consolidate and apply theoretical concepts included in the school curriculum, some other types of informal learning have also been observed such as the feeling of playing a key role, which contributed to an increase of students' motivation.

Volume 15 • Issue 01 • 2016 • Special Issue: Citizen Science, Part I, 2016