Citizen science is a rapidly growing, collaborative method of engagement which allows non-professionals (as volunteers) the opportunity to participate and contribute to scientific research. These working partnerships can include volunteers from the general community, educators, students and businesses and the outcomes of citizen science projects results in many mutual scientific, education and engagement benefits.
Scientific projects requiring ‘citizen scientists’ have expanded almost exponentially in the last 10 years (largely as a result of the internet) and consequently, the design, delivery and analysis of scientific projects incorporating citizen scientists is rapidly changing.
Citizen science stakeholders are now forming local and national ‘communities of practice’ such as the European Citizen Science Association and the (American) Citizen Science Association to ensure all aspects of citizen science (including science communication, volunteer recruitment and retention, data analysis and scientific methodology) utilise the latest research and best practice methods.
In Australia, there are over 100 citizen science projects spanning the medical, astronomy and environmental fields. The grass roots nature of many of these projects means it is difficult for individual projects to have the resources to connect with the wider citizen science movement. The development of larger communities of practice such as national networks or associations can make it easier for all citizen science stakeholders to communicate with other projects, connect volunteers and learn from experts.
In order to have a strong and active citizen science community within Australia we need to ensure our vision, goals and objectives align with those of managers, community volunteers, researchers, educators and sponsors involved in citizen science.
So, what would you like to see from Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA)?
4 thoughts on “What are your thoughts on a ACSA?”
Thought 1. Great concept – thanks for setting up the network and I know its going to make an important contribution.
Thought 2. I am for people doing citizen science and those who enable it.
Thought 3 I’ve been thinking about the way people and agencies of science and government use citizen science as a tool in policy. I wonder if we should insist on the rights of citizen science. I think that citizen science can do more good if it doesn’t unconsciously slip into doing (just) what institutions of science and government want it to do. Anybody thinking or writing about that kind of thing?
Wonderful to see this much needed network established. My hope is for identification and effective communication of Best Current Practice of projects, methods and outcomes.
One other issue that I feel strongly about: Without citizens engagement, valuable information that can help maintain our planet will either be lost forever or never collected.
My experience has been that “citizen science” people need a reason for changing what they have been previously doing. Getting citizen scientists to share their images with something other than Flickr and then to add metadata such as where and when the photo was taken has been a tough ask. What’s the payback they ask. For images, the payback has been crowd-sourced identifications. My point is that citizen science needs to be a two way interaction where both citizen scientists and professional scientists/policy makers are happy.
For what my personal comments are worth?? I am very enthusiastic about the concept of Citizen science. I continue to receive very positive feedback from experienced zoologists when my images are comprehensively and positively identified by ‘experts’ (at museums or universities etc). The payback for myself is a growing confidence in my own field techniques and field skills. As an example of ‘payback’, the opportunity occasionally arises when a recognized expert asks to use one of my images for their own research papers – I am always pleased to contribute the image and metadata. From just one ‘at sea’ encounter with a marine taxonomist in 1982, I became motivated (over the next four years), to enter university in 1986 and nearly 25 years later, I have worked as an environmental scientist, Naval Officer and private consultant since 1990. I have also continued to work with that same marine taxonomist (my mentor) and have attended numerous field trips and diving expeditions ever since. That brief encounter on a dive boat in 1982, has led to innumerable opportunities for ‘payback’. I am very grateful of that person answering my first simple question about a Cromodoris splendida (nudibranch) and not fobbing me off as a 19 year old novice diver.