Citizen science refers to activities conducted by scientists in collaboration or consultation with the public at any stage of a research project. It can range from citizens and local communities photographing and analysing new auroral phenomena, collecting samples of fruit flies in rural areas, to using geographical analysis and visualisation tools coupled with their local environmental knowledge, or annotating performed music structures in an online platform.
Citizen science plays an important role in encouraging public engagement with research and tackling real-world problems. Research involving citizens and allowing them to gain more insight into the scientific process can lead to more trust in science in general. Also, our environmental, health, social, economic and political challenges require scientists, citizens, policymakers, and in general, a broader range of stakeholders, to find new ways of collaborating with each other.
By sharing lessons learnt and best practices within and across scientific domains, the following challenges faced by both scientists and citizens will be addressed:
- Participation and motivation: What are the main reasons for scientists to engage with citizens and for citizens to engage in science? How do participants benefit from their experience? What are the key obstacles for widening participation?
- Strategies for engagement: What are the best ways to attract and sustain participation over time? How can communities of practice that encourage engagement and learning be created? What is the best way to combine physical and online tools/techniques?
- Quality and impact: What type of knowledge can be generated and according to which standards? Is engagement with citizens a way to enhance the quality of science, or only to enhance science impact in the wider society? What is the concrete impact on scientific practices and everyday lives of citizens? What are the key enablers for citizen science?