Abstract: CoCoRaHS is a multinational citizen science project for observing precipitation. Like many citizen science projects, volunteer retention is a key measure of engagement and data quality. Through survival analysis, we found that participant age (self-reported at account creation) is a significant predictor of retention. Compared to all other age groups, participants aged 60-70 are much more likely to sign up for CoCoRaHS, and to remain active for several years. We also measured the influence of task difficulty and the relative frequency of rain, finding small but statistically significant and counterintuitive effects. Finally, we confirmed previous work showing that participation levels within the first month are highly predictive of eventual retention. We conclude with implications for observational citizen science projects and crowdsourcing research in general.

Source: Sheppard,S.A., Turner, J., Thebault-Spieker, J., Zhu, H., Terveen, L., 2017. Never Too Old, Cold, or Dry to Watch the Sky: A Survival Analysis of Citizen Science Volunteerism. Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact., Vol. 1, No. 2, Article 94.

Excerpt: In the Education Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, we’re always working to bring exciting scientific content to K-12 classrooms. Educators can access many of these free resources, classroom materials and activities online, and we’re adding more all the time. The inspiration for these products often comes from the work being done at JPL and NASA, but sometimes it’s the teachers we work with whose creative ideas inspire the lessons we share with our community of STEM educators. Our new column, Teacher Feature, is an effort to capture those creative ideas and highlight the teachers behind them.

Source: Rodriguez, B., 2018. Teacher Uses NASA Data to Get Students Doing Citizen Science, 9 January 2018. Available at: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/news/2018/1/9/teacher-uses-nasa-data-to-get-students-doing-citizen-science/

Excerpt: In 1977, in the very heavenly dawn of London’s punk-rock scene, a crude, photocopied magazine told its readers: “This is a chord, this is another, this is a third. Now start a band.” They did so by the thousand. Now that punk aesthetic has come to science. Citizen science has been around for ages—professional astronomers, geologists and archaeologists have long had their work supplemented by enthusiastic amateurs—and new cheap instruments can usefully spread the movement’s reach.

Source: The Economist, 2017. Do-it-yourself science is taking off – Punk Science, 19 December 2017. Available at https://www.economist.com/news/christmas-specials/21732703-growing-movement-seeks-make-tools-science-available-everyone-including

Excerpt: Darcy Reynard hates “beg buttons” so much, he created an online map and recruited Twitter users to use a stop-watch on pedestrian crossing signals across the city. The map was soon reporting waits of more than three minutes as pedestrians or cyclists shivered in the cold, missed their bus or gave up and jaywalked.

Source: Stolte, E., 2018. Frustrated pedestrians use citizen science to put ‘beg buttons’ back up for debate, 24 January 2018. Available at http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/andrew-knack-puts-beg-buttons-up-for-debate-major-irritant-for-pedestrians

Excerpt: Until recently, much mapping activity was in the exclusive realm of authoritative agencies but technological development has also allowed the rise of the amateur mapping community. The proliferation of inexpensive and highly mobile and location aware devices together with Web 2.0 technology have fostered the emergence of the citizen as a source of data. Mapping presently benefits from vast amounts of spatial data as well as people able to provide observations of geographic phenomena, which can inform map production, revision and evaluation. The great potential of these developments is, however, often limited by concerns. The latter span issues from the nature of the citizens through the way data are collected and shared to the quality and trustworthiness of the data. This book reports on some of the key issues connected with the use of citizen sensors in mapping. It arises from a European Co-operation in Science and Technology (COST) Action, which explored issues linked to topics ranging from citizen motivation, data acquisition, data quality and the use of citizen derived data in the production of maps that rival, and sometimes surpass, maps arising from authoritative agencies.

Source: Foody, G et al. 2017. Mapping and the Citizen Sensor. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/bbf

Abstract: Apps for mobile devices and web-based platforms are increasingly used in citizen science projects. While extensive research has been done in multiple areas of studies, from Human-Computer Interaction to public engagement in science, we are not aware of a collection of recommendations specific for citizen science that provides support and advice for planning, design and data management of mobile apps and platforms that will assist learning from best practice and successful implementations. In two workshops, citizen science practitioners with experience in mobile application and web-platform development and implementation came together to analyse, discuss and define recommendations for the initiators of technology based citizen science projects. Many of the recommendations produced during the two workshops are applicable to citizen science project that do not use mobile devices to collect data. Therefore, we propose to closely connect the results presented here with ECSA’s Ten Principles of Citizen Science.

Source: Sturm, U., et al, 2018. Defining principles for mobile apps and platforms development in citizen science. Research Ideas and Outcomes 4: e23394. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3897/rio.4.e23394

Abstract: Data collection or generation is the primary way that the majority of volunteers advance the scientific goals of citizen science projects, but other activities such as data consumption also may influence learning, civic, and conservation outcomes. Project designers and managers balance goals for multiple outcomes and thus need to consider the influence of all project-related activities on outcomes. In a study of the kayak-based Citizen’s Water Quality Testing (CWQT) Program in New York City, we compared the characteristics, perceptions, and behaviors of those collecting and using CWQT data (data collectors) and those solely using the data (data consumers). Data collectors (n = 40) and consumers (n = 24) were similar in gender and political orientation, but collectors were younger, devoted more time to the project, and experienced far more face-to-face interactions related to the project. Data collectors and consumers had similar motivations for participation, except that collectors were more likely motivated by recognition for their efforts. Lack of free time was the largest barrier to participation for both types of participants, and a significantly greater barrier for consumers. Data collectors and consumers trusted volunteer-collected data more than government-collected data. Collectors and consumers both recognized multiple scientific, environmental, and social benefits associated with the project, and both were equally likely to use volunteer-collected data for a variety of purposes, such as informing decisions about conservation and recreation. Importantly, both groups were equally likely to undertake a suite of conservation behaviors. We synthesize and expand current conceptual frameworks of citizen science participation and outcomes, highlighting the need for further study to understand mechanisms and linkages between the varied activities of citizen science projects and broader social and ecological impacts. To achieve conservation goals, project managers should broaden the definition of participant to include those carrying out activities other than data collection (such as data use) and explicitly manage for potential benefits derived by consumers of citizen science.

Source: Cooper, C.B. et al., (2017). Contrasting the Views and Actions of Data Collectors and Data Consumers in a Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Project: Implications for Project Design and Management. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice. 2(1), p.8. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/cstp.82

Abstract: As global warming worsens, addressing environmental health disparities and justice is increasingly important. This necessity is evident in southern metropolitan Tucson, Arizona, an area underserved and disproportionately experiencing the effects of climate change. Including underserved groups in problem solving can spur knowledge generation and the building of community capacity to address and mitigate environmental health challenges posed by climate justice. This article describes a community-based project that utilized a peer education framework coupled with citizen science design. Community health workers (promotoras) were trained in environmental health, climate change, and environmental monitoring protocols to then educate and train families about these same subjects. The study goal was to evaluate science and environmental health learning, awareness, and self-efficacy at the promotora and residential levels resulting from intensive 40-hour trainings, peer education via home visits, and environmental monitoring. Pre- and postsurveys were completed by the promotoras and the families they visited. Motivations for participation as well as changes in self-efficacy and knowledge were analyzed. Results revealed that the promotora’s motivations were primarily internal and they were concerned with health. Using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test (p = .05), it was observed that for both study groups, knowledge of water and energy conservation statistically increased, as well as self-efficacy for environmental action and scientific learning. This article demonstrates that promotoras are critical in environmental health and climate science peer education. These findings can be used to further develop peer education citizen science projects in underserved communities, ensuring that efforts increase participants’ learning, self-efficacy, and enhance social–ecological outcomes.

Source: Sandhaus, S., et al., 2018. Combating Climate Injustices: An Informal Science and Popular Education Approach to Addressing Environmental Health Disparities. Pedagogy in Health Promotion. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/2373379917751476

Abstract: This article describes and analyzes the collaborative design of a citizen science research project through cocreation. Three groups of secondary school students and a team of scientists conceived three experiments on human behavior and social capital in urban and public spaces. The study goal is to address how interdisciplinary work and attention to social concerns and needs, as well as the collective construction of research questions, can be integrated into scientific research. The 95 students participating in the project answered a survey to evaluate their perception about the dynamics and tools used in the cocreation process of each experiment, and the five scientists responded to a semistructured interview. The results from the survey and interviews demonstrate how citizen science can achieve a “cocreated” modality beyond the usual “contributory” paradigm, which usually only involves the public or amateurs in data collection stages. This type of more collaborative science was made possible by the adaptation of materials and facilitation mechanisms, as well as the promotion of key aspects in research such as trust, creativity and transparency. The results also point to the possibility of adopting similar codesign strategies in other contexts of scientific collaboration and collaborative knowledge generation.

Source: Senabre, Enric and Ferran-Ferrer, Núria and Perelló, Josep, 2018. Participatory design of citizen science experiments. Comunicar, Vol. 26, n. 54, pp. 29-38. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3916/C54-2018-03

Abstract: Citizen science is a rapidly developing research approach, increasing in popularity within the science community and civil society, as well as in the media and among policy-makers (Pettibone et al., 2017). Various attempts to define citizen science have been made (e.g. Irwin, 1995; Bonney et al., 2009; Wiggins & Crowston, 2011; Shirk et al., 2012; Haklay, 2015), most of which encompass a kind of active participation of volunteers in the scientific process. In recent years, networks have played an important role in the development and professionalization of citizen science (Göbel et al., 2017; Storksdieck et al., 2016). In this article, we present an overview of the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) and Bürger schaffen Wissen (roughly translated to “citizens create knowledge”), an online platform for presenting and networking citizen science projects in Germany.

Source: David Ziegler, D., Mascarenhas, A., 2017. Networks for Citizen Science in Europe and Germany. Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture and Society 5(3): 68-71. [http://fofj.org/index.php/journal/article/view/339]