Using the future wheel methodology to assess the impact of open science in the transport sector

Paper by Anja Fleten Nielsen et al: “Open Science enhances information sharing and makes scientific results of transport research more transparent and accessible at all levels and to everyone allowing integrity and reproducibility. However, what future impacts will Open Science have on the societal, environmental and economic development within the transport sector? Using the Future Wheel methodology, we conducted a workshop with transport experts from both industry and academia to answer this question. The main findings of this study point in the direction of previous studies in other fields, in terms of increased innovation, increased efficiency, economic savings, more equality, and increased participation of citizens. In addition, we found several potential transport specific impacts: lower emission, faster travel times, improved traffic safety, increased awareness for transport policies, artificial intelligence improving mobility services. Several potential negative outcomes of Open Science were also identified by the expert group: job loss, new types of risks, increased cost, increased conflicts, time delays, increased inequality and increased energy consumption. If we know the negative outcomes it is much easier to put in place strategies that are sustainable for a broader stakeholder group, which also increase the probability of taking advantage of all the positive impacts of Open Science…(More)”

When Concerned People Produce Environmental Information: A Need to Re-Think Existing Legal Frameworks and Governance Models?

Paper by Anna Berti Suman, Mara Balestrini, Muki Haklay, and Sven Schade: “When faced with an environmental problem, locals are often among the first to act. Citizen science is increasingly one of the forms of participation in which people take action to help solve environmental problems that concern them. This implies, for example, using methods and instruments with scientific validity to collect and analyse data and evidence to understand the problem and its causes. Can the contribution of environmental data by citizens be articulated as a right? In this article, we explore these forms of productive engagement with a local matter of concern, focussing on their potential to challenge traditional allocations of responsibilities. Taking mostly the perspective of the European legal context, we identify an existing gap between the right to obtain environmental information, granted at present by the Aarhus Convention, and “a right to contribute information” and have that information considered by appointed institutions. We also explore what would be required to effectively practise this right in terms of legal and governance processes, capacities, and infrastructures, and we propose a flexible framework to implement it. Situated at the intersection of legal and governance studies, this article builds on existing literature on environmental citizen science, and on its interplay with law and governance. Our methodological approach combines literature review with legal analysis of the relevant conventions and national rules. We conclude by reflecting on the implications of our analysis, and on the benefits of this legal innovation, potentially fostering data altruism and an active citizenship, and shielding ordinary people against possible legal risks…(More)”.

Managing Intellectual Property Rights in Citizen Science: A Guide for Researchers and Citizen Scientists

Report by Teresa Scassa & Haewon Chung: “IP issues arise in citizen science in a variety of different ways. Indeed, the more broadly the concept of citizen science is cast, the more diverse the potential IP interests. Some community-based projects, for example, may well involve the sharing of traditional knowledge, whereas open innovation projects are ones that are most likely to raise patent issues and to do so in a context where commercialization is a project goal. Trademark issues may also arise, particularly where a project gains a certain degree of renown. In this study we touch on issues of patenting and commercialization; however, we also recognize that most citizen science projects do not have commercialization as an objective, and have IP issues that flow predominantly from copyright law. This guide navigates these issues topically and points the reader towards further research and law in this area should they wish to gain an even more comprehensive understanding of the nuances. It accompanies a prior study conducted by the same authors that created a Typology of Citizen Science Projects from an Intellecutal Property Perspective…(More)”.

The Power of Citizen Science

Lauren Kirchner at ConsumerReport: “You’ve heard of Erin Brockovich, the law clerk without a science degree who exposed the existence of a dangerous contaminant polluting a town’s groundwater, a toxic hazard that otherwise might have stayed invisible.

She’s not the first person to practice “citizen science” to powerful effect, nor will she be the last.

Maybe you’ve wondered whether that plastic container you’re about to zap in the microwave is really safe to use or whether your favorite chipped coffee mug is exposing you to toxic paint. Some particularly enterprising people who’ve had similar concerns have also wondered—but then took the extra step of testing the chemical makeup of what they were concerned about and then publicized the results.

These citizen testers aren’t professional chemists or government regulators, but all of them were able to raise red flags and spark important conversations about the health hazards that can be hiding in our homes and lives…(More)”.

The Risks of Empowering “Citizen Data Scientists”

Article by Reid Blackman and Tamara Sipes: “New tools are enabling organizations to invite and leverage non-data scientists — say, domain data experts, team members very familiar with the business processes, or heads of various business units — to propel their AI efforts. There are advantages to empowering these internal “citizen data scientists,” but also risks. Organizations considering implementing these tools should take five steps: 1) provide ongoing education, 2) provide visibility into similar use cases throughout the organization, 3) create an expert mentor program, 4) have all projects verified by AI experts, and 5) provide resources for inspiration outside your organization…(More)”.

Citizen science tackles plastics in Ghana

Interview with Dilek Fraisl and Omar Seidu by Stephanie Olen: “An estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic waste leaks into the ocean every year, and Ghana generates approximately 1.1 million tonnes of plastics per year. This is due to the substantial economic growth that Ghana has experienced in recent years, as well as the 2.2% population growth annually, which has urged the Ghanaian authorities to act. Ghana was the first African country to join the Global Plastic Action Partnership in 2019. Ghana also has a growing and active citizen science beach clean-up community including one of our project partners, the Smart Nature Freak Youth Volunteers Foundation (SNFYVF).

Before our work, Ghana had no official data available related to marine plastic litter. Based on the data collected through citizen science initiatives in the country and our project ‘Citizen Science for the SDGs in Ghana’ (CS4SDGs), we now know that in 2020 alone more than 152 million plastic items were found along the beaches in the country…

One of the key factors for the success of our project was due to Ghana’s progressive approach to the use of new sources of data for official statistics. For example, the Ghanaian Government passed the new Statistical Service Act in 2019, which mandates the GSS to coordinate statistical information across the whole government system, develop and raise awareness of codes of ethics and practices to produce data, and include new sources of data as a valid input for production of official statistics. This shows that the effective legal arrangements can prepare the groundwork for citizen science data to be used as official statistics and for SDG monitoring and reporting. Political commitment from the partners in Ghana also helped to achieve success. Ultimately, without the support of citizen science and action groups in the country that actually collected the litter and the data on the ground, this project would have never been successful. Since the start, citizen scientists have been willing to work with the government agencies and international partners, as well as other key stakeholders to support our project, which played a significant role in achieving our result…(More)”.

How citizen science can help realize the full potential of data

Blog by Haishan Fu, Craig Hammer, and Edward Anderson: “Citizen science, a critical pillar of Open Science, advocates for greater citizen involvement in knowledge generation, research goals, and outcomes. By engaging citizens directly in data collection, drone imaging, and crowdsourcing into project design, we provide policymakers and citizens with valuable data and information they need to make informed and effective decisions.   

Furthermore, abiding by the principles of citizen science, we can help communities establish a new social contract around data stewardship, grounded in the principles of value, trust, and equity, as proposed by the World Development Report 2021: Data for Better Lives. The report puts forward a vision of data governance that is multistakeholder and collaborative. It explicitly builds data production, protection, exchange, and use into planning and decision-making, and integrates participants from civil society, private sectors, and importantly, the public into the data life cycle and into the governance structures of the system. 

As the experience of the Resilience Academy shows, increasing our commitment to citizen science by inviting public engagement before, during, and after development projects can help engage a wider swath of the public with the Bank’s Open Data Initiative.   

The Tanzania-based project empowers students to adapt low-cost, low-complexity tools and open methods to collect and manage data from their changing environments. Resilience Academy students also participate in solving real-world challenges in their community, such as mapping flood- and rockfall-prone zones, surveying tourism and infrastructure needs, and other areas currently lacking critical data. 

This “learning by doing” approach equips young people with the long-term tools, knowledge, and skills they need to address the world’s most pressing urban challenges and ensure resilient urban development. This project is demonstrating the many co-benefits that come from hands-on learning, job creation, and data management-related skills. 

Incorporating citizen science into open data agendas and project design, however, will necessitate some changes to how the World Bank and other multilateral development agencies approach development projects….(More)”.

Community science draws on the power of the crowd

Essay by Amber Dance: “In community science, also called participatory science, non-professionals contribute their time, energy or expertise to research. (The term ‘citizen science’ is also used but can be perceived as excluding non-citizens.)

Whatever name is used, the approach is more popular than ever and even has journals dedicated to it. The number of annual publications mentioning ‘citizen science’ went from 151 in 2015 to more than 640 in 2021, according to the Web of Science database. Researchers from physiologists to palaeontologists to astronomers are finding that harnessing the efforts of ordinary people is often the best route to the answers they seek.

“More and more funding organizations are actually promoting this type of participatory- and citizen-science data gathering,” says Bálint Balázs, managing director of the Environmental Social Science Research Group in Budapest, a non-profit company focusing on socio-economic research for sustainability.

Community science is also a great tool for outreach, and scientists often delight in interactions with amateur researchers. But it’s important to remember that community science is, foremost, a research methodology like any other, with its own requirements in terms of skill and effort.

“To do a good project, it does require an investment in time,” says Darlene Cavalier, founder of SciStarter, an online clearing house that links research-project leaders with volunteers. “It’s not something where you’re just going to throw up a Google form and hope for the best.” Although there are occasions when scientific data are freely and easily available, other projects create significant costs.

No matter what the topic or approach, people skills are crucial: researchers must identify and cultivate a volunteer community and provide regular feedback or rewards. With the right protocols and checks and balances, the quality of volunteer-gathered data often rivals or surpasses that achieved by professionals.

“There is a two-way learning that happens,” says Tina Phillips, assistant director of the Center for Engagement in Science and Nature at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. “We all know that science is better when there are more voices, more perspectives.”…(More)”

Collection of Case Studies of Institutional Adoption of Citizen Science

About TIME4CS : “The first objective was to increase our knowledge about the actions leading to institutional changes in RPOs (which are necessary to promote CS in science and technology) through a complete and up-to-date picture based upon the identification, mapping, monitoring and analysis of ongoing CS practices. To accomplish this objective, we, the TIME4CS project team, have collected and analysed 37 case studies on the institutional adoption of Citizen Science and Open Science around the world, which this article addresses.

For an organisation to open up and accept data and information that was produced outside it, with a different framework for data collection and quality assurance, there are multiple challenges. These include existing practices and procedures, legal obligations, as well as resistance from within due to framing of such action as a threat. Research that was carried out with multiple international case studies (Haklay et al. 2014; GFDRR 2018), demonstrated the importance of different institutional and funding structures needed to enable such activities and the use of the resulting information…(More)”.

Citizen science in environmental and ecological sciences

Paper by Dilek Fraisl et al: “Citizen science is an increasingly acknowledged approach applied in many scientific domains, and particularly within the environmental and ecological sciences, in which non-professional participants contribute to data collection to advance scientific research. We present contributory citizen science as a valuable method to scientists and practitioners within the environmental and ecological sciences, focusing on the full life cycle of citizen science practice, from design to implementation, evaluation and data management. We highlight key issues in citizen science and how to address them, such as participant engagement and retention, data quality assurance and bias correction, as well as ethical considerations regarding data sharing. We also provide a range of examples to illustrate the diversity of applications, from biodiversity research and land cover assessment to forest health monitoring and marine pollution. The aspects of reproducibility and data sharing are considered, placing citizen science within an encompassing open science perspective. Finally, we discuss its limitations and challenges and present an outlook for the application of citizen science in multiple science domains…(More)”.