An article published in PLOS One tracking academic papers mentioning ‘citizen science’ caused a lot of discussion in the last month. My take is here, but Caren Cooper’s blog does a much better job of exploring the issues. –CJL

Citizen science is skyrocketing in popularity. Not just among participants (of which there are millions), but also in its visibility in academic journals. A new article in PLOS ONE by Ria Follett and Vladimir Strezov tracks trends in academic articles containing the term “citizen science.” The authors deciphered patterns based on 888 articles summoned with the keyword search “citizen science” and revealed adoption of the term over time in different disciplines and for different purposes.

“Citizen science,” by that specific phrase, first appeared in academic publications in 1997. After 2003, articles about methods and data validity began to appear. Papers about projects tricked into the literature until 2007, at which time the skyrocketing began. I suspect momentum was slowly building since about 2002 as more and more projects and their data started being accessible online: more access likely equates to more use, assuming the patterns in “citizen science” are a vague proxy for an actual increase in adoption of citizen science.

Photo Credit: Cascades Butterfly Team, by Karlie Roland, NPS

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