Citizen social science in practice: the case of the Empty Houses Project

Paper by Alexandra Albert: “The growth of citizen science and participatory science, where non-professional scientists voluntarily participate in scientific activities, raises questions around the ownership and interpretation of data, issues of data quality and reliability, and new kinds of data literacy. Citizen social science (CSS), as an approach that bridges these fields, calls into question the way in which research is undertaken, as well as who can collect data, what data can be collected, and what such data can be used for. This article outlines a case study—the Empty Houses Project—to explore how CSS plays out in practice, and to reflect on the opportunities and challenges it presents. The Empty Houses Project was set up to investigate how citizens could be mobilised to collect data about empty houses in their local area, so as to potentially contribute towards tackling a pressing policy issue. The study shows how the possibilities of CSS exceed the dominant view of it as a new means of creating data repositories. Rather, it considers how the data produced in CSS is an epistemology, and a politics, not just a realist tool for analysis….(More)”.