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Citizen Science : Theory and Practice
Number of Followers: 2  

  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Online) 2057-4991
Published by Ubiquity Press Limited Homepage  [40 journals]
  • Citizen Science and the Pandemic: A Case Study of the Christmas Bird Count

    • Abstract: Citizen science has contributed much to our knowledge of North American birds, with programs like Christmas Bird Count (CBC) providing valuable data on population dynamics, winter distribution, irruption patterns, range expansions, invasion dynamics, community ecology, and the effects of climate change. However, the novel coronavirus pandemic of 2020 had the potential to restrict participation and detrimentally impact the scientific value of 2020 count results. CBC data from throughout North America for 2020 were compared to trends from the previous ten years. Participation was reduced in several ways, including number of counts, number of participants, and spatial distribution of counts. However, based on a subset of states and provinces, number of species recorded was not impacted. Care should be taken when using 2020 CBC data for studies requiring fine-scale geographic resolution. Published on 2022-07-20 10:13:47
  • Building Capacity to Apply Citizen Science Approaches in Policy and
           Practice for Public Health: Protocol for a Developmental Evaluation of
           Four Stakeholder-Led Projects

    • Abstract: Citizen science is gaining attention as an approach to involving communities in gathering data and contributing to decision-making in public health. Stakeholders interested in citizen science have identified a need for support in applying these approaches and in obtaining evidence of their value. However, there have been few attempts to evaluate citizen science approaches within policy and practice contexts in public health. Within this protocol paper, we outline an approach to evaluating stakeholder-led citizen science projects that focuses on fostering innovation and building capacity in the use of citizen science approaches by these stakeholders.We will use developmental evaluation, which focuses on ongoing reflection and adaptation, to guide the development and delivery of four stakeholder-led citizen science projects in public health. We will employ a multiple embedded case study design, using surveys and interviews, observations of project meetings, reflective journaling, and document review to gather perspectives from a range of stakeholders across the four projects. Data will be synthesised to explore how projects using citizen science approaches operate within policy and practice contexts, including the barriers and facilitators to their application, the circumstances under which they are most useful, and the impacts of these approaches.A developmental approach to evaluation will enable us to build capacity in the use of citizen science approaches by sharing insights and learnings as project teams navigate their individual projects. We hope that this paper will stimulate further discussion about the application and evaluation of citizen science approaches in public health and beyond. Published on 2022-07-19 12:50:42
  • Diverse and Important Ways Evaluation can Support and Advance Citizen

    • Abstract: Evaluation offers many benefits for citizen science including the ability to inform design and improve project programming; to aid in understanding impacts on volunteer outcomes; to validate project successes; and to advance best-practices in the field. However, evaluation and subsequent use of its findings in citizen science remains limited. Here, we applied an existing typology to document evaluation use among 15 citizen science project leaders who were deeply involved in a collaborative evaluation process. From their evaluation efforts, these leaders gained new and deeper understanding of their volunteers and programming (conceptual use); made critical changes to their projects (programmatic use); shared their evaluation findings with others (dissemination use); and expanded their attitudes and actions with regard to evaluation (process use). Knowledge gains from evaluation prompted the project leaders in our study to change their training, revise their protocols, add resources, and even terminate an unproductive project. Through reports, presentations, and publications, the project leaders shared findings related to skill proficiency with their volunteers, other staff members, practitioners in other citizen science projects, funders, researchers, and evaluators. Our study makes connections between the evaluation-use literature and citizen science practice, and offers recommendations to address the challenge of limited application of evaluation within citizen science. As such, this paper can help project leaders understand the important and diverse ways evaluation can support individual projects and the larger field. It also raises questions on the role of collaboration in citizen science evaluation. Published on 2022-07-18 11:49:04
  • Do Carefully Timed Email Messages Increase Accuracy and Precision in
           Citizen Scientists’ Reports of Events'

    • Abstract: Engaging and retaining participants present major challenges for citizen science programs, especially those that seek to engage participants across a large region. Periodic messages are a commonly used tactic for reminding citizen science program participants to take a desired action such as collecting observations. In this study, we evaluate the impact of such messages on the accuracy and precision of observations contributed to Nature’s Notebook, a citizen science phenology observing program. To encourage participants in Nature’s Notebook to log the timing of leaf-out and flowering with maximum accuracy and precision, we email observers three days prior to when the events are expected to occur based on forecast models. Unplanned interruptions to the scripts driving these email prompts allowed us to evaluate whether the messages had the intended impacts. The messages significantly improved the precision of observers’ reports of leaf-out by five to eight days and the accuracy by one to two days, though these improvements were present only for participants that opened the messages. Accuracy and precision of reports of bloom were not impacted in the same positive ways. These findings demonstrate the importance of timely messages to prompt action and underscore the impact of the first messages sent in the season—both of which have utility for other citizen science programs. Because these findings emerged opportunistically, we cannot establish that the messages caused the changes in participant behavior. A more rigorous evaluation to determine the impact of messaging on volunteer observer behavior is merited. Published on 2022-07-13 10:40:58
  • Engagement in a Citizen Science Project in the Amazon Basin

    • Abstract: Citizen science is a growing field that has the potential to better integrate citizens’ demands and concerns into research projects through participatory methods, and its approach can contribute to large-scale monitoring projects. In this case study article, we share and discuss methods used to promote participant engagement in a pilot initiative of the Citizen Science for the Amazon Project (CSAP). The overall project collects information on fisheries through an app and its upload tool. The pilot initiative was implemented in the main stem area of the Amazon River in Brazil from 2018 to 2019. We worked with 26 target groups, engaging participants in sessions to use and evaluate the app. Participants are residents of local communities, riverine people (ribeirinhos), with rich knowledge of natural resources and with specific conservation concerns. Fishing is an important source of income and nutrition, and fishery management strategies are a way to access and strengthen land rights. Engaging local communities in citizen science requires specific approaches to promote dialogue between different types of knowledge systems. We present an overview of our participatory strategies and use qualitative data from our monitoring to analyze outcomes. Our key recommendations include: recognizing traditional knowledge holders, including local interests, and upgrading tools according to these interests; using communication strategies to promote equitable dialogues; and stimulating and fostering networks between citizen scientists. By sharing this experience, we aim to contribute to future citizen science projects, especially in rural areas in the Global South. Published on 2022-07-11 13:21:11
  • Practical Activities Promoting Engagement in Forest Ecology Research

    • Abstract: Improving public engagement in ecological research improves the visibility of science and educates a wider audience about the value of ecology and its study. To this end, we assess the success of two simple activities, designed to track forest cover and understorey conditions, implemented at Lammi Biological Station Science Trail, Finland, in terms of effective public participation and useability of the data generated. We consider how best to engage participants in the activities, and we validate the data obtained by comparison of its reliability and useability against standard ecological approaches. It is also increasingly timely for researchers to utilise the large datasets that can be generated through effective public engagement. If experiments are effectively designed, these data can provide information at a larger scale than is attainable with the resources typically available to individual research projects. Consequently, given high enough uptake, such activities hold the potential for upscaling or generalisation from their findings. Both activities proved useful to collect more intensive data than would otherwise have been feasible. The quadrat vegetation survey (Activity 1) provided useable data to determine species phenology but not species composition. The canopy disk observations (Activity 2) reliably tracked seasonal changes in canopy cover when calibrated against baseline data. Training in these activities fostered engagement in how climate change affects forest ecology, improving the quality of data collected, and engaging participants eager to learn about and contribute to research into these processes. Published on 2022-06-17 10:40:21
  • Citizen Science Approach to Home Radon Testing, Environmental Health
           Literacy and Efficacy

    • Abstract: Exposure to radon is a leading cause of lung cancer worldwide. However, few test their homes for radon. There is a need to increase access to radon testing and decrease radon exposure. This longitudinal, mixed-methods study using a citizen science approach recruited and trained a convenience sample of 60 non-scientist homeowners from four rural Kentucky counties to test their homes for radon using a low-cost continuous radon detector, report back findings, and participate in a focus group to assess their testing experience. The aim was to evaluate changes in environmental health literacy (EHL) and efficacy over time. Participants completed online surveys at baseline, post-testing, and 4–5 months later to evaluate EHL, response efficacy, health information efficacy, and self-efficacy related to radon testing and mitigation. Mixed modeling for repeated measures evaluated changes over time. Citizen scientists reported a significant increase in EHL, health information efficacy, and radon testing self-efficacy over time. While there was a significant increase in citizen scientists’ confidence in their perceived ability to contact a radon mitigation professional, there was no change over time in citizen scientists’ beliefs that radon mitigation would reduce the threat of radon exposure, nor was there a change in their capacity to hire a radon mitigation professional. Further research is needed to understand the role of citizen science in home radon mitigation. Published on 2022-06-02 10:46:09
  • Standardizing the Assessment of Citizen Scientists’ Motivations: A
           Motivational Goal-Based Approach

    • Abstract: Understanding volunteers’ motivations to participate in Citizen Science (CS) projects is essential for these projects’ effective management and success. Many studies have investigated citizen scientists’ motivations, but only a few have used a theory-based approach to provide a standardized methodology to measure CS motivations. The current research aims to take the literature a step further by developing and applying a general, standardized, theory-based framework of CS motivation and a CS motivation scale (CSMS) that can be used to assess volunteers’ motivations across diverse CS projects. The CSMS comprises 58 items corresponding to 15 motivational categories. It is grounded in Schwartz’s theory of basic human values, while incorporating the wealth of empirical knowledge on citizen scientists’ motivations. We administered the scale to three separate samples of either Dutch or Hebrew-speaking participants who volunteered for three CS projects. Analysis of participants’ ratings of their motivations supported our theoretical framework, showing that 13 of the scale’s 15 motivational categories fell into 4 higher-order motivations, which correspond to Schwartz’s theory of values: openness to change, self-enhancement, continuity (conservation), and self-transcendence. Results further provide concrete insights into CS participation behavior, showing that certain motivations (including help with research, benevolence, and self-direction) were consistently among the most important motivators for participation across CS projects. Finally, we found that prioritizing certain motivations can also predict participation behavior (e.g., duration of participation and willingness to participate in additional volunteering activities). The CSMS is a new tool that can be applied across projects spanning diverse domains and populations, advancing and standardizing the growing literature on CS motivations. Published on 2022-06-02 10:32:09
  • The Soundscapes to Landscapes Project: Development of a Bioacoustics-Based
           Monitoring Workflow with Multiple Citizen Scientist Contributions

    • Abstract: Citizen science is an important approach for ecological studies that require county-scale or broader geographic coverage. Here we report on project management, technology, and the variety of roles and levels of engagement of citizen scientists in the Soundscapes to Landscapes project, focused in Sonoma County, California, USA. The project uses low-cost autonomous recording units (ARUs) and bioacoustic analysis to monitor bird diversity and soundscape components at a regional scale. In five years, 259 citizen scientists collectively volunteered 8,390 hours on a range of tasks, with 40% field work and 41% bioacoustic reference data collection, but also including geographic information systems, social media, and data upload. Citizen scientists were a mix of expert collaborators, community volunteers, and undergraduate students. In five distinct field campaigns, 141 citizen scientists deployed recording devices during the breeding bird season at 1,281 sites on public and private lands, and collected 12,431 hours of raw audio recordings. For bioacoustic analysis, we used a custom web-based citizen science interface to produce labeled reference data, through which seven expert citizen scientists and 105 user-level citizen scientists produced 230,066 labeled audio clips. We found that word-of-mouth and personal connections were the best strategies for recruitment and retainment of citizen scientists. Levels of engagement among citizen scientists varied, and community volunteers who participated in more than one task contributed more time to the project overall. Undergraduate students were a valuable citizen scientist group in the project, contributing 48% of the total citizen scientist effort and were particularly important for field work success. Published on 2022-05-27 10:31:38
  • Disaster, Participatory Science, and Infrastructure

    • Abstract: Published on 2022-05-19 13:38:10
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