Global Young Academy 5th International Conference for Young Scientists 2015

What Impact Can Citizen Science Have on Public Attitude Towards Science in Society?

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Image courtesy of David Lang article on Medium.com

Discussion Group Leader: Laura Petes, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
If you wish to return to the summary of themes discussed at the Interactive Session (10:30am — 12:00pm) please click here.

What is Citizen Science?

  • Non-scientists doing science
  • Science outside of frame of traditional science
  • Way to engage citizens in collecting large data sets e.g., amateur astronomers, birders, etc.
  • Traditional and indigenous knowledge — work with scientists to blend local knowledge and hard science
  • Accessible science. Public, no barriers. Opportunity to attract people to science
  • Popular science. Science for citizens. Make information available in simple ways that is clearly communicated.
  • Influence of citizens on policy making — can inform decisions.
  • Adaptable to change
  • Helps to address mistrust of science e.g., with vaccines
  • Form of engagement
  • Trend towards more two-way relationships between science and society
  • Much social science is based on citizen science

Challenges and Opportunities of Citizen Science

  • Education on risk and uncertainty
  • Limitations of using data collected by non-scientists
  • “Language” barriers between scientists and citizens
  • Have to ensure that results are validated
  • Not always respect from the scientific community
  • Is the media the new peer-review process?
  • Peer reviewers or funding agencies may not see the data as credible
  • Need to educate observers in scientific process
  • Need to establish a code of practice
  • Establishing training and best practices but not being burdensome or too time-consuming
  • Ability to have relationships between scientists and citizens depends on scale of project
  • Need to avoid exploitation

Future!

  • Establish pathways for citizens to provide new ideas
  • Who defines the project and articulates the need? [shouldn’t all come from the scientists]
  • Research should focus on community needs. Need to refresh idea of “impact factor”
  • Need for incentives for scientists — not currently in traditional academic structures
  • Use of media and social media
  • Engage not just “citizens” but also journalists, politicians, etc
  • “Politicians-in-Residence”

Written by

Aletheia Guild

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