CSCS is the collaborative production of knowledge and change

Citizen Science and crowdsourcing are a set of processes through which citizens take part in scientific, policy or design research by undertaking research tasks such as problem formulation, data collection, data analysis or ideas generation.

For example:

  • Mass participation of citizen scientists via online platforms creates a powerful labour force able to analyse large data sets in a fraction of the time of conventional approaches;
  • Media promoted garden bird surveys enable ecologists to cover far greater geographical areas they could by themselves;
  • Citizens initiating and conducting research into pollution indicators help promote environment policy change.
  • Citizens are recruited to take part in large scale simulations, games and experiments, where they play an active role in performing the experiments

These sort of activities or programmes, sometimes called participative/participatory science, rely significantly on affordances of online and mobile technologies for scale and cost, and are extremely diverse and varied on the type of involvement they seek from participants, the scope of the activity, the outcomes etc.

While the social sciences are only just starting to exploit this novel area of social practice, the natural sciences are moving fast in developing new methodologies for engaging the publics in this sort of programmes, and in public policy and business the practices are being explored and refined.

“A citizen scientist is a volunteer who collects and/or processes data as part of a scientific enquiry. Projects that involve citizen scientists are burgeoning, particularly in ecology and the environmental sciences, although the roots of citizen science go back to the very beginnings of modern science itself.”

— Silvertown, J. (2009) A new dawn for citizen science. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 24, 467-471