Citizen science and global biodiversity
Citizen science and global biodiversity

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Citizen science and global biodiversity

9 Creating a support structure for citizen science

Citizen science projects and activities have been initiated by a range of organisations, including scientific bodies, schools, universities and volunteer groups, with a view to involving both beginners and experienced citizen scientists in activities contributing to scientific and other areas of research, from local to global issues (see Wikipedia’s growing list [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ) The increase in accessibility of communications technology, particularly over the past ten years, has matched the growth in the scale of citizen science, seeing the development of websites and online platforms that seek input from even larger audiences through crowdsourcing. Efforts to share best practice and formalise thinking about leading citizen science initiatives have also been happening through the development of associations, groups and networks formed through professional affiliation, common interests and geographical location. A few examples are listed below.

UK: The British Ecological Society (BES) citizen science special interest group provides a forum for sharing details of current citizen science in ecology. It also fosters and supports creativity in research via citizen science as part of a community.

The UK’s Tree Health Citizen Science Network was formed by a group of organisations working across a range of projects and activities that engage the public around trees.

Europe: The European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) was set up to encourage the growth of citizen science across Europe, to increase public participation in scientific processes, mainly by initiating and supporting citizen science projects as well as conducting research on citizen science. ECSA has a membership of over 200 individual and organisational members from over 28 countries across the European Union and beyond. Below is a video from the 2018 conference, the next ECSA conference will be held in Trieste, Italy in May 2020.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 3 from the ECSA’s second International Citizen Science Conference, Geneva, 3–5 June 2018.
Skip transcript: Video 3 from the ECSA’s second International Citizen Science Conference, Geneva, 3–5 June 2018.

Transcript: Video 3 from the ECSA’s second International Citizen Science Conference, Geneva, 3–5 June 2018.

So one of the main reasons for success from Citizens with Engagement project would be communication, engagement, interaction, and two-way. So for example, when citizens of public are engaged in a project, if they don't have engagement from the organisers on a regular basis-- so basically saying two-way communication-- the project will soon just tip off, and less engagement from the general public. And that's one of the main things that I think is critical to a project.
What I think is important is that citizens can take ownership of the activity.
There are some citizen science project where in a year, you can achieve five year support, just because regular people with no higher education participate in it. So it both benefits science and benefits the people who participate in it.
Quite important that citizens get a hold of what science is about, so they can be aware of all the basis and how science is used by and for, like, politics-- which is the citizen part of citizen science.
Everybody has a right to get involved in science projects. It's part of their cultural life, their everyday life, their learning life.
Talk about the context in which we are working about eight years ago. And then go through an assortment of projects that have come up since the time of the spill. I have a number of lessons learned from the work that we've done over the years that I'll share. And then I want to dig a bit into the concept of equity and how we can build that as a central component. And really creating science that's centred on people.
So I think the history of citizen science gives us a lot of interesting lessons for today's citizen science. It tells us that what you need is not just reaching out to the public, but you also need educating scientists, scientists who understand the questions and the issues that the public is interested in. And it tells you that it's not enough just to go to the public with technology, but you need to listen to what are the real questions of the communities.
The citizen science dynamic and the science society policies come from the place where we consider that we need to educate people to trust in science. But if we look at the situation from the ground, we make the hypothesis that better public policies design should be embedded and to motivate people to have a research citizen agenda-- not a science citizen agenda, a research citizen agenda. Because citizen science talks about research and not about communication and pedagogy. It's a research agenda that is needed.
End transcript: Video 3 from the ECSA’s second International Citizen Science Conference, Geneva, 3–5 June 2018.
Video 3 from the ECSA’s second International Citizen Science Conference, Geneva, 3–5 June 2018.
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USA: The US-based Citizen Science Association (CSA) brings together a diverse range of practitioners working in this field, around the world, to share their expertise, resources and best practices in conducting various types of citizen science project.

Australia: The Australian Citizen Science Association is a membership community supporting the development of citizen science in Australia. It was formed to help advance citizen science through the sharing of knowledge, collaboration, capacity building and advocacy.


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