Topic 1: Citizen Science

Despite finding many definitions of Citizen Science, there is a common framework that understands it as a collaboration between the general public with the scientific community and, in particular, with scientific research. Although it normally entails activities on data collection for large-scale scientific studies, due to recent technologic developments like digital media, citizens start to be able to help analyzing data, raising questions and thus enriching the joint project.

Collaboration can be achieved through individuals (dedicated volunteers, students or educators) or community groups at national, regional or local level mostly through online projects or communities of research. These projects can comprise online databases, monitoring programs or visualization technologies, amid other types of community shared work. The collaborative scope is open to several scientific disciplines such as biology and environmental sustainability or health sciences, among others.

Empowering interested non-academics to participate in the research process can increase the general understanding of how science is developed by motivating and instructing the general audience. The success of any citizen science project mostly rests on the motivation of the individuals involved and the enactment of a well-devised scientific program.

Open questions:

  • How can technology enable non-scientists to participate in science experiments? Which are the best channels through which individuals are able to participate in scientific matters in their everyday life?
  • Which science subjects are more susceptible to engage in collaborative projects?
  • How can the scientific community increase awareness and motivation from society to collaborate in scientific research projects?
  • How can societal participation in scientific matters help improve scientific research?
  • How will citizen science affect the future of scientific research?
  • Which are the limitations of collaborative projects that involve the citizenship?
  • Which are the benefits of non-scientists participating in research projects?

a. Furthering the scope of scientific projects by allowing collaboration by a wide audience

b. Improving individuals’ knowledge on scientific topics and making them aware the importance of scientific research

c. Enabling scientific research to focus on applicable projects (that can be used in everyday life)

Expert:

Fermin Serrano Sanz is the Executive Director at Fundacion Ibercivis and the Citizen Science Research Group Leader at Instituto de Biocomputacion y Fisica de Sistemas Complejos - BIFI. Fermin has a Masters degree in Innovation Management and Computer Science.

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