In a new study, researchers from North Carolina State University found that although many volunteers who sign up to help crowdsource scientific results are extremely motivated and committed, these projects do not attract a diverse pool of volunteers. The results can help researchers design and structure future projects, as well as point out priorities for recruiting volunteers.
“Participation in civic science does not reach as far into different segments of the public as we had hoped for in the field,” said Caren Cooper, the study’s corresponding author and associate professor of forestry and environmental resources at NC State. “We see that most volunteers are mostly highly educated white people with a high percentage of STEM professionals. We do not even reach other types of professionals. This is part of the wake-up call that is going on in the field right now. now.”
Through crowdsourcing for research, sometimes known as “civic science”, volunteers have made major contributions to science. They have helped track where North American monarch butterflies fly in the winter and set up cameras to track animals in the wild. The field of civic science has grown, and researchers wanted to know who these volunteers are, what types of research they participate in, and how many different projects they participate in.
“In the last decade or so, there has been an explosion of civic science projects in various disciplines and models, both online and offline,” said study lead author Bradley Allf, a graduate student at NC State. “We were curious about what participation looks like in terms of the number and types of projects people do.”
Between 2016 and 2019, researchers surveyed 3,894 people who volunteered for two different individual science projects, as well as people who had accounts on SciStarter.org, a large online catalog of civic science projects. The two projects were the Christmas Bird Count, the National Audubon Society’s annual census of winter birds, and Candid Critters, a project led by NC State researchers and partners to track wildlife using camera traps. In addition to the surveys, researchers also tracked the online activity of 3,649 SciStarter.org participants.
Looking at the demographics of volunteers participating in multiple projects, they found that participants were more likely to be white, work in STEM areas, and have advanced degrees.
Less than 5% of nearly 3,600 volunteers who answered questions about their demographics in the surveys identified as black, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, Native American, or Hispanic. In addition, almost half of the volunteers in the sample worked in scientific fields, while half had a master’s degree or other advanced degrees.
Researchers said the lack of diversity was worrying, as participation in these projects could benefit volunteers, and offer educational opportunities and ways to learn about their communities. But they also said there are efforts to address inequalities in recruiting through corporate volunteer programs and churches.
“Through these projects, volunteers can learn about science, but also about their own communities,” Allf said. “If these benefits are concentrated in people who already have great access to power in society and to science in general, then civic science does a disservice to the underprivileged.”
One of their key results was that many volunteers are willing to participate in multiple projects. In fact, 77% of all volunteers they completed – through surveys and online – completed several science projects. Some volunteers were “super users” and participated in as many as 50 projects.
“If your goal as a researcher is to understand citizen researchers and the impact your experiences can have on them, but you analyze them through just one project, you will probably get a simplistic view of who that person is and the richness of their experiences,” said Allf.
Researchers said their findings suggest that researchers should expect to share volunteers so they should coordinate their efforts. Some projects are likely to serve as “inputs” to civic science more broadly. Researchers were able to structure projects as part of a pathway where volunteers acquire skills as they evolve through more and more challenging work.
“This opens up the possibility of scaffolding with civic science experience,” Allf said.
The work is displayed in BioScience. Co-authors included Lincoln R. Larson and Robert R. Dunn of NC State; Sara E. Futch, from the Nature Conservation Association; Maria Sarova of the Thriving Earth Exchange, an initiative of the American Geophysical Union; and Darlene Cavalier of Arizona State University School for the Future of Innovation in Society, and the founder and director of SciStarter. The study was supported by National Science Foundation Grant No. 1713562. The material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. DGE-1746939.
Editor’s note: The abstract follows.
“Citizen Science as an Ecosystem of Engagement: Implications for Learning and Expanding Participation”
Authors: Bradley C. Allf, Caren B. Cooper, Lincoln R. Larson, Robert R. Dunn, Sara E. Futch, Marai Sarova, and Darlene Cavalier.
Published online in BioScience June 22, 2022.
Abstract: The majority of research on civic science participants is project-centered, based on the assumption that volunteers experience a single project. Contrary to this assumption, survey responses (n = 3,894) and digital trace data (n = 3,649) from volunteers who together engaged in 1,126 unique projects revealed that participation in multiple projects was the norm. Only 23% of the volunteers were singletoner (who only participated in one project), and participants in several projects were divided equally between specialists (39%) and disciplinarians (38% participated in projects with different disciplinary topics) and unevenly between specialists (67 %) and fashion spanners (33% participated in online and offline projects). Public engagement was narrow: Participants in multiple projects were eight times more likely to be white and five times more likely to have advanced degrees than the general population. We propose a volunteer-centered framework that explores how the dynamic accumulation of experience in a project ecosystem can support broad learning objectives and inclusive civic science.
What is citizen science Australia?
The Australian Citizen Science Association defines civic science as: public participation and collaboration in scientific research with the aim of increasing scientific knowledge. To see also : Prairie Heights offers Civic Arts graduation route | Heraldrepublican. Citizen science is a flexible concept that can be adapted and used in different situations and disciplines.
What are the four main features of civic science? Here are four common features of civic science practice: (a) everyone can participate, (b) participants use the same protocol so that data can be combined and be of high quality, (c) data can help real scientists come to the right conclusions and ( d)) a broad community of researchers and volunteers work together and share data for …
What does citizen science do?
What is Citizenship? Citizen science uses the collective strength of society and the public to identify research questions, collect and analyze data, interpret results, make new discoveries and develop technologies and applications – all to understand and solve environmental problems.
What does the term citizen science mean?
Specifically, civic science is when the public voluntarily assists in conducting scientific research. Read also : UM Stephens College of Business Computer Informatics program changes name to Data Analytics. Civil scientists can design experiments, collect data, analyze results and solve problems.
What is an example of citizen science?
Globe at Night The Globe at Night database measures the impact of light pollution in the real world. Civil scientists calculate the brightness of the sky in which they live, enabling experts to understand the effect of pollutants on night visibility. See the article : Biden calls the former head of DARPA as scientific advisor. Data from the project are most useful for astronomers.
Do citizen scientists get paid?
Salaries for Citizen Scientists in the United States range from $ 44,640 to $ 153,810, with a median salary of $ 82,150. The top 60% of Citizen Scientists earn $ 82,150, while the top 80% earn $ 153,810.
Can a scientist be a citizen? Civil scientists rarely catch criminals, but they often make meaningful contributions to professional scientific research. And anyone can become a citizen researcher.
Is citizen science valuable?
This is perhaps one of the greatest benefits of civic science: not only do civic researchers provide useful data, but they can also analyze it. This is a great help for researchers, who often find it impossible to collect and analyze such large data sets on their own due to time and resource constraints.
What are the benefits of being a citizen scientist?
Citizen science offers many opportunities, for researchers as well as for citizens. A top 10 list of benefits.
- Achieve more participation in research.
- Facilitate research on a larger scale by adding more people.
- To utilize new sources of information, knowledge and perspectives. â € œ
What can I do as a citizen scientist?
Civil scientists can design experiments, collect data, analyze results and solve problems. In national parks, most citizen researchers collect data with tools provided by project managers. This data helps professional scientists and resource managers answer scientific questions and solve important problems.
What is another term for citizen science?
Citizen science (CS; also known as community science, crowd science, crowd-sourced science, civic science, or voluntary surveillance) is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur (or non-professional) scientists.
Is civic science a social science? Citizen social science has developed in importance and prevalence over the last few years and is based on experience with both civic (natural) science and established social science methods such as participatory action research.
What does the phrase citizen science project mean?
Citizen science is science for everyone! Specifically, civic science is when the public voluntarily assists in conducting scientific research. Civil scientists can design experiments, collect data, analyze results and solve problems.
What is an example of citizen science?
Globe at Night The Globe at Night database measures the impact of light pollution in the real world. Civil scientists calculate the brightness of the sky in which they live, enabling experts to understand the effect of pollutants on night visibility. Data from the project are most useful for astronomers.