Citizen science

24/08/2022

How can citizen science (CS) be engaging? What does engagement entail? Who needs to be engaged? What are the challenges and opportunities of engagement in CS? After two years of lockdown and isolation, these were some of the questions debated by engaged researchers, students, and practitioners at the ‘Engaging Citizen Science Conference 2022’, (CitSci2022), held April 25th–26th at Aarhus University, Denmark. The conference aimed to showcase and share knowledge, ideas, and innovations on engaging citizens in scientific processes to secure the field of citizen science to thrive and expand. Nearly 250 participants, mainly from Europe, participated in an extensive programme with various session formats that provided an interactive and inspirational space for presenting and negotiating experiences, challenges, and enthusiasm for CS. This review presents highlights from the event and some reflections from the reviewer, including thoughts on what engagement means, and concluding with focus points that practitioners, researchers, and students may consider when engaging citizens in science and organizing similar events in future.

10/06/2022

Citizen Science (CS) can help change the paradigm of science communication. To test this, 38 ongoing CS projects from Italy, Portugal and Spain have been selected by the H2020 NEWSERA project to act as pilots in the development of communication strategies, specifically targeting stakeholders in the quadruple helix. The projects, together with stakeholder representatives and science communication and journalism professionals participated in a series of workshops — #CitSciComm Labs — where communication strategies were co-designed, using adapted design-thinking methods. The innovative methodological approach is hereby presented and can be an inspiration for others willing to implement improved communication strategies to target different stakeholders.

28/03/2022

Despite the societal relevance of energy research, there is a distinct lack of citizen science initiatives in the field. This paper reports the experience of a participatory and innovative strategy to develop a citizen science initiative for solar energy research. A number of stakeholders participated in the definition and implementation of the initiative, and tools such as surveys and a hackathon were employed. The process described aims to provide a blueprint for transforming the relationship between citizens and research into societal challenges. Here we describe the collaborative process and analyse the main opportunities, limitations and future perspectives.

28/03/2022

Young children are actors usually excluded from political decisions and also from many science communication projects. Participatory science communication models can help to connect their everyday life with both local policies and science-related content. Using visual methodologies for engagement, we aimed at understanding what preschool children prefer in the city landscape. Results show how young children envision a “better city” and how that construction might defy current scientific knowledge. It further illustrates how science communication can be used to co-produce new knowledge, contributing to the debate about people's needs and perceptions related to science-based options.

14/03/2022

Citizen science opens the scientific knowledge production process to societal actors. In this novel collaboration process, scientists and citizens alike face the challenge of new tasks and functions, eventually resulting in changing roles. Role theory provides a way of conceptualizing the roles that people take in communication and interaction. We use role theory to create a framework that identifies scientists' and citizens' tasks in citizen science projects, main aims of communication, spaces they interact in, and their roles — thus providing a structured way to capture communication and interaction in and about CS for further scientific reflection and practical application.

14/02/2022

Despite being a critical environmental problem, soil pollution is not usually considered as a relevant issue by the general public. This disinterest derives from traditional procedures to assess soil pollution that are quite complex and costly, not considering any form of citizen involvement. Seeking to challenge this situation, the project “Nuestros Suelos” (Our Soil) aimed at designing and testing a low-cost participative soil pollution assessment toolkit. The final prototype included several participative modules, going from an assessment of the history of local soils to measuring heavy metals such as Arsenic and Copper. Tested with low-income communities in northern Chile, the toolkit was able not only to produce multiple kinds of data but also a public that started to understand and care about the issue.

11/10/2021

Over 500 delegates took part in the third international ECSA conference in September 2020. Across 30 sessions, as well as keynote talks, e-poster presentations and more informal settings, they discussed and debated a diverse range of subjects related to citizen science. This special edition of ‘JCOM’ brings together some of the central themes that were under the spotlight at ECSA 2020. Since ECSA 2020 has been one of the first examples of a conference that moved completely online, and it has been considered a big success, we also include the Conference Report, as supplementary material with this editorial.

11/10/2021

WeObserve delivered the first European-wide Citizen Observatory (CO) knowledge platform to share best practices, to address challenges and to inform practitioners, policy makers and funders of COs. We present key insights from WeObserve activities into leveraging challenges to create interlinked solutions, connecting with international frameworks and groups, advancing the field through communities of practice and practitioner networks, and fostering an enabling environment for COs. We also discuss how the new Horizon Europe funding programme can help to further advance the CO concept, and vice versa, how COs can provide a suitable mechanism to support the ambitions of Horizon Europe.

11/10/2021

Positioning citizen science within the broader historical public engagement framework demonstrates how it has the potential to effectively tackle research and innovation issues. Citizen science approaches have their own challenges, which need to be considered in order to achieve this aim and contribute to wider and deeper public engagement. However, programme evaluations, which discuss lessons learned in engaging the public and other stakeholders with science are rare. To address this gap, we present the H2020-funded DITOs project and discuss the use of logic models in citizen science. We share the project’s assumptions, design considerations for deeper engagement and its impact pathways demonstrating how logic models can be utilised in citizen science to monitor programme effectiveness and for their successful implementation. We hope that this work will inspire citizen science practitioners to use similar tools and by doing so, share their experiences and potential barriers. This knowledge is essential for improving the way citizen science is currently practiced and its impacts to both science and society.

11/10/2021

Citizen science involves laymen in some steps of a scientific experiment: citizens are volunteers devoting their free time to citizen science projects. Therefore it is important to investigate the factors influencing their motivation and engagement. In this paper, we present our study to investigate the motivation factors of the TESS photometer network participants, an initiative to collect light pollution data. We present the results and insight of our investigation and the instrument we adopted, which can be useful for the broad citizen science community.

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