Public engagement with science and technology

21/09/2016

This study applies social network analysis to explore the role that one science festival has played in building the state's STEM learning ecosystem. It examines the breadth and extent of collaboration among STEM educators and their partners, reviewing past and present partnerships across 449 events during the 2015 festival. Three case studies provide in-depth illustrations of partnerships. These findings represent an important step towards (a) mapping a STEM learning ecosystem, and (b) trying to understand how a festival affects the ecosystem itself. Together, study results demonstrate how the festival has served to stimulate and foster STEM partnerships.

21/09/2016

Factors that influence reception and use of information are represented in this koru model of science communication using the metaphor of a growing plant. Identity is central to this model, determining whether an individual attends to information, how it is used and whether access to it results in increased awareness, knowledge or understanding, changed attitudes or behaviour. In this koru model, facts are represented as nutrients in the soil; the matrix influences their availability. Communication involves reorganisation of facts into information, available via channels represented as roots. When information is taken up, engagement with it is influenced by external factors (social norms, support and control) and internal factors (values, beliefs, attitudes, awareness, affect, understanding, skills and behaviour) which affect whether the individual uses it to form new knowledge.

22/06/2016

Celebrating 15 years of success and growth, the STS Conference Graz on May 9 and 10, 2016, gathered nearly 200 delegates from all over the world who had the opportunity to discuss and share research and experiences on 6 main themes: Policy and Technology; Gender and Queer STS; Mobility, Energy and Sustainability; Responsible Research and Innovation Studies; Nutrition, Health and Biomedicine; and Information and Communication Technologies, Surveillance and Society.

09/06/2016

The use and availability of digital media is changing researchers' roles and simultaneously providing a route for a more engaging relationship with stakeholders throughout the research process. Although the digital realm has a profound influence on people's day-to-day lives, some researchers have not yet professionally embraced digital technologies. This paper arises from one aspect of a project exploring how university research and professional practices are evolving as researchers engage with stakeholders via digital media to create, share and represent knowledge together. Using researchers from the Open University (U.K.) as a case study, this paper reviews the extent to which they are developing multiple identities and functions in their engaged research through digital media.

20/04/2016

Community-based water monitoring (CBWM) provides essential baseline information on watershed health and engages the public in science, but those involved often encounter barriers to informing environmental management. We conducted qualitative interviews with watershed group coordinators and government counterparts from four CBWM organizations to explore instances where CBWM successfully influenced governmental decision-making. Our findings show that the level of rigor for quality standards, inclusion of volunteers, available resources, and desired goals are important considerations when designing community-based monitoring programs. Integrated program designs that include adequate quality standards and engage volunteers are more apt to maximize resources and realize both scientific and educational goals.

20/04/2016

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.

20/04/2016

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.

20/04/2016

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.

20/04/2016

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.

20/04/2016

We investigate the development of scientific content knowledge of volunteers participating in online citizen science projects in the Zooniverse (http://www.zooniverse.org). 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.

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