Helmholtz Gemeinschaft


Citizen science’s transformative impact on science, citizen empowerment and socio-political processes

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Item Type:Article
Title:Citizen science’s transformative impact on science, citizen empowerment and socio-political processes
Creators Name:von Gönner, J. and Herrmann, T.M. and Bruckermann, T. and Eichinger, M. and Hecker, S. and Klan, F. and Lorke, J. and Richter, A. and Sturm, U. and Voigt-Heucke, S. and Brink, W. and Liedtke, C. and Premke-Kraus, M. and Altmann, C. and Bauhus, W. and Bengtsson, L. and Büermann, A. and Dietrich, P. and Dörler, D. and Eich-Brod, R. and Ferschinger, L. and Freyberg, L. and Grützner, A. and Hammel, G. and Heigl, F. and Heyen, N.B. and Hölker, F. and Johannsen, C. and Kluß, T. and Kluttig, T. and Knobloch, J. and Munke, M. and Mortega, K. and Pathe, C. and Soßdorf, A. and Stämpfli, T. and Thiel, C. and Tönsmann, S. and Valentin, A. and Wagenknecht, K. and Wegener, R. and Woll, S. and Bonn, A.
Abstract:Citizen science (CS) can foster transformative impact for science, citizen empowerment and socio-political processes. To unleash this impact, a clearer understanding of its current status and challenges for its development is needed. Using quantitative indicators developed in a collaborative stakeholder process, our study provides a comprehensive overview of the current status of CS in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Our online survey with 340 responses focused on CS impact through (1) scientific practices, (2) participant learning and empowerment, and (3) socio-political processes. With regard to scientific impact, we found that data quality control is an established component of CS practice, while publication of CS data and results has not yet been achieved by all project coordinators (55%). Key benefits for citizen scientists were the experience of collective impact (“making a difference together with others”) as well as gaining new knowledge. For the citizen scientists’ learning outcomes, different forms of social learning, such as systematic feedback or personal mentoring, were essential. While the majority of respondents attributed an important value to CS for decision-making, only few were confident that CS data were indeed utilized as evidence by decision-makers. Based on these results, we recommend (1) that project coordinators and researchers strengthen scientific impact by fostering data management and publications, (2) that project coordinators and citizen scientists enhance participant impact by promoting social learning opportunities and (3) that project initiators and CS networks foster socio-political impact through early engagement with decision-makers and alignment with ongoing policy processes. In this way, CS can evolve its transformative impact.
Keywords:Participatory Research, Research Data Management, Data Quality, Social Learning, Political Uptake, Recognition
Source:Socio-Ecological Practice Research
Page Range:11-33
Date:March 2023
Official Publication:https://doi.org/10.1007/s42532-022-00136-4

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