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The European Citizen Science Association
Characteristics of Citizen Science
Margaret Gold
(WeObserve, LandSense, EU-Citizen.Science)
The Characteristics
There is need for common ground
There should be a pluralistic understanding
It‘s challenging to have one common definition
https://zenodo.org/communities/citscicharacteristics
Methodology
Factors!
Identified 9 factors that influence people’s
view about an activity being CS
Vignettes!
Developed 50 vignettes to provide these
factors with more context!
Diversity!
Reached out to people in research,
science communication, policy, and public
Grading!
Asked people to grade from 0% (not CS)
to 100% (is CS)
Factors
6.  Training
7.  Data sharing
8.  Leadership
9.  Scientific field
10.  Involvement
1.  Activeness
2.  Compensation
3.  Purpose
4.  Purpose of Knowledge
production
5.  Professionalism
0%
 100%
# 3 Subscription Fee
 Sub-
Factors
Inspired by

Jane is a long-time supporter of the charity
British Trust of Ornithology (BTO) work, as
she cares about birds. 
She is an active supporter of the Garden
Birdwatch programme (GBW), and happy
to give it £17 a year. 
However, she doesn’t have time to carry
out the bird watching survey. 
She is reading with interest the reports
from the BTO GBW and finds the
information motivating to continue her
support of the project.

1.1,
2.6,
3.1,
4.2,
5.1,
6.2,
7.2,
8.6,
9.1,
10.7

DITOS – Doing it
Together Science,
Deliverable:
Innovation
Management Plan
50
330 People Responded
Wide range of Respondents
Ranking cases 1-15
14
Jane
Responses
Amateur naturalist1!
Sharman is a science writer and teacher of English literature.
In her free time, she decided to study the tiger beetle at the
Gila River, close to her home in Arizona, USA. This is a
personal project. She is growing larvae in a terrarium at
home to learn about their physiology. On specific questions,
she is supported by a retired professor of entomology.
Eventually, she writes an academic paper that describes her
findings, that is published in the journal of the entomological
society and receives feedback from entomologists. She does
not share her primary data with anyone except the
entomologist.
Amateur naturalist1!
Game12!
Jacques has joined a massive multiplayer game for
which he pays a subscription fee. In the game, he is
travelling through galaxies trading, mining resources,
and competing with other players. He enters an area,
where he classifies human proteins, for which he gets
credits that can be traded throughout the game. The
project was initiated by scientists and a gaming
company. The classifications will eventually get
published in the human protein atlas.
Game12!
Crowdsourcing15!
Erik is a teacher in Uppsala, Sweden. For the past 15 years,
he is running a weather station that is part of the Weather
Underground’s Personal Weather Station Network with over
250,00 participants who share their observation data, just like
Erik. In return for the data sharing, the company is providing
tech support, data management services and customised,
free-of-charge access to forecasts. The company uses the
data to produce a global weather forecast as a commercial
service.
Crowdsourcing15!
Collecting Data / Not Shared22!
Jacob is an avid wild mushroom (fungi) collector in Ghent,
Belgium. For the past twenty years, he travelled the forests
and meadows of East Flanders in weekends and holidays
from his work as a priest, recording the locations, dates, and
occurrence of many species. This information is initially kept
on files in his computer, and together with other fungi
enthusiasts, he is planning to produce the atlas of fungi in
East Flanders sometime soon. Until they publish the atlas,
he does not want to share the information.
Collecting Data / Not Shared22!
Mapping37!
Simone is an artist that has been developing special self-
tracking hardware and software that she uses to run public
workshops. In the workshops that are hosted by arts
organisations, people can walk the area and annotate their
feelings and emotions using this hard- and software. When
they come back a collective map is made of all the collected
local knowledge. These maps have been used in local
decision-making processes by politicians and NGOs. The
data from the work and designed maps are publically shared
and have been internationally exhibited. (CN) (Reviewed:
DD).
Mapping37!
Survey46!
Margarita is working as a research assistant in an
agricultural research centre in Spain. She has received a
request to fill in a questionnaire about her experience as a
resident of the area where she lives. She filled it in after
work, and sent it back to the transport researchers who are
working with her municipality to improve the operational
capacity of public transport. Once completed, the
researchers will analyse the results and share the report with
the authorities, with a summary shared publicly. (MH)
(Reviewed: BK)
Survey46!
The Characteristics Areas
1.  Core Concepts
2.  Disciplinary Aspects
3.  Leadership and Participation
4.  Financial Aspects
5.  Data & Knowledge
Core Concepts
Here, we look at the conceptual issues that might help to decide the
degree of citizen science of a given project. This can be especially
challenging in areas that were Identified as ambiguous, such as the
difference between a clinical study of digital health tools and
participatory sensing activities of the exact same tools.
•  Science & Research
•  What counts as research
•  Intention and framing
•  Hypothesis-driven, monitoring, inductive,
exploratory, and database creation
•  Roles and responsibilities
•  Subject or participant
•  Ethics
Disciplinary Aspects
Our study of views demonstrated that some areas of
research are especially prone to ambiguity, or two specific
issues that relate to practices within the sub-disciplines in
these areas. We therefore explain what the specific issues
are for each area.
•  Disciplinary views – scientific and
technological, arts and humanities,
social sciences
•  Medical sciences and human health
Leadership & Participation
Here we focus on who is the ‘project owner’: the body,
group or individual that has control over the project’s
development. We discuss the roles of participants and their
engagement with the project.
•  Individual, community-led or research-led
•  Organisations (RPOs, CSOs, public)
•  Commercial activities
•  Degree of engagement
•  Small vs large scale
•  Professionalism vs voluntarism
•  Science engagement and education
•  Links to decision making
Financial Aspects
Unlike other contributions that are happening in citizen
science (e.g. time, use of physical resources, use of
knowledge and expertise), financial transactions stand out
as an area that can lead to contention about the
classification of a project.
•  Financial support for scientific
research
•  Payment to take part in a project.
•  Incentives to participate in an activity.
Data & Knowledge
The final section looks at how data- and knowledge-
generation issues influence a given activity.
•  Data and knowledge generation.
•  Data ownership and use
•  Data quality
•  Local and lay knowledge-sharing and
application
•  Opportunistic vs systematic data
collection
•  Digital data-collection tools
•  Sharing personal and medical data
https://zenodo.org/communities/
citscicharacteristics
•  The characteriscs working group included Muki Haklay, Ariel Lindner, Alice Motion, Bálint Balázs,
Barbara Kieslinger, Bastian Greshake Tzovaras, Christian Nold, Daniel Dörler, Dilek Fraisl, Dorte
Riemenschneider, Florian Heigl, Fredrik Brounéus, Gerid Hager, Katja Heuer, Katherin
Wagenknecht, Katrin Vohland, Lea Shanley, Lionel Deveaux, Luigi Ceccaroni, Maike Weisspflug,
Margaret Gold, Marzia Mazzonetto, Monika Mačiulienė, Sasha Woods, Soledad Luna, Susanne
Hecker, Teresa Schaefer, Tim Woods, and Uta Wehn.
•  The development of these characteristics was supported by European Union’s Horizon 2020
research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 824580), project EU-Citizen.Science,
the ERC Advanced Grant project ECSAnVis (grant agreement No. 694767). Thanks to the
Bettencourt Schueller Foundation long term partnership,this work was partly supported by CRI
Research Fellowships to Muki Haklay, Alice Motion, and Bastian Greshake Tzovaras.
https://osf.io/xpr2n/!

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The ECSA Characteristics of Citizen Science

  • 1. The European Citizen Science Association Characteristics of Citizen Science Margaret Gold (WeObserve, LandSense, EU-Citizen.Science)
  • 2.
  • 3.
  • 4.
  • 5. The Characteristics There is need for common ground There should be a pluralistic understanding It‘s challenging to have one common definition https://zenodo.org/communities/citscicharacteristics
  • 6. Methodology Factors! Identified 9 factors that influence people’s view about an activity being CS Vignettes! Developed 50 vignettes to provide these factors with more context! Diversity! Reached out to people in research, science communication, policy, and public Grading! Asked people to grade from 0% (not CS) to 100% (is CS)
  • 7. Factors 6.  Training 7.  Data sharing 8.  Leadership 9.  Scientific field 10.  Involvement 1.  Activeness 2.  Compensation 3.  Purpose 4.  Purpose of Knowledge production 5.  Professionalism
  • 8.
  • 9. 0% 100% # 3 Subscription Fee Sub- Factors Inspired by Jane is a long-time supporter of the charity British Trust of Ornithology (BTO) work, as she cares about birds. She is an active supporter of the Garden Birdwatch programme (GBW), and happy to give it £17 a year. However, she doesn’t have time to carry out the bird watching survey. She is reading with interest the reports from the BTO GBW and finds the information motivating to continue her support of the project. 1.1, 2.6, 3.1, 4.2, 5.1, 6.2, 7.2, 8.6, 9.1, 10.7 DITOS – Doing it Together Science, Deliverable: Innovation Management Plan
  • 10. 50
  • 11.
  • 13. Wide range of Respondents
  • 15. Amateur naturalist1! Sharman is a science writer and teacher of English literature. In her free time, she decided to study the tiger beetle at the Gila River, close to her home in Arizona, USA. This is a personal project. She is growing larvae in a terrarium at home to learn about their physiology. On specific questions, she is supported by a retired professor of entomology. Eventually, she writes an academic paper that describes her findings, that is published in the journal of the entomological society and receives feedback from entomologists. She does not share her primary data with anyone except the entomologist.
  • 17. Game12! Jacques has joined a massive multiplayer game for which he pays a subscription fee. In the game, he is travelling through galaxies trading, mining resources, and competing with other players. He enters an area, where he classifies human proteins, for which he gets credits that can be traded throughout the game. The project was initiated by scientists and a gaming company. The classifications will eventually get published in the human protein atlas.
  • 19. Crowdsourcing15! Erik is a teacher in Uppsala, Sweden. For the past 15 years, he is running a weather station that is part of the Weather Underground’s Personal Weather Station Network with over 250,00 participants who share their observation data, just like Erik. In return for the data sharing, the company is providing tech support, data management services and customised, free-of-charge access to forecasts. The company uses the data to produce a global weather forecast as a commercial service.
  • 21. Collecting Data / Not Shared22! Jacob is an avid wild mushroom (fungi) collector in Ghent, Belgium. For the past twenty years, he travelled the forests and meadows of East Flanders in weekends and holidays from his work as a priest, recording the locations, dates, and occurrence of many species. This information is initially kept on files in his computer, and together with other fungi enthusiasts, he is planning to produce the atlas of fungi in East Flanders sometime soon. Until they publish the atlas, he does not want to share the information.
  • 22. Collecting Data / Not Shared22!
  • 23. Mapping37! Simone is an artist that has been developing special self- tracking hardware and software that she uses to run public workshops. In the workshops that are hosted by arts organisations, people can walk the area and annotate their feelings and emotions using this hard- and software. When they come back a collective map is made of all the collected local knowledge. These maps have been used in local decision-making processes by politicians and NGOs. The data from the work and designed maps are publically shared and have been internationally exhibited. (CN) (Reviewed: DD).
  • 25. Survey46! Margarita is working as a research assistant in an agricultural research centre in Spain. She has received a request to fill in a questionnaire about her experience as a resident of the area where she lives. She filled it in after work, and sent it back to the transport researchers who are working with her municipality to improve the operational capacity of public transport. Once completed, the researchers will analyse the results and share the report with the authorities, with a summary shared publicly. (MH) (Reviewed: BK)
  • 27. The Characteristics Areas 1.  Core Concepts 2.  Disciplinary Aspects 3.  Leadership and Participation 4.  Financial Aspects 5.  Data & Knowledge
  • 28. Core Concepts Here, we look at the conceptual issues that might help to decide the degree of citizen science of a given project. This can be especially challenging in areas that were Identified as ambiguous, such as the difference between a clinical study of digital health tools and participatory sensing activities of the exact same tools. •  Science & Research •  What counts as research •  Intention and framing •  Hypothesis-driven, monitoring, inductive, exploratory, and database creation •  Roles and responsibilities •  Subject or participant •  Ethics
  • 29. Disciplinary Aspects Our study of views demonstrated that some areas of research are especially prone to ambiguity, or two specific issues that relate to practices within the sub-disciplines in these areas. We therefore explain what the specific issues are for each area. •  Disciplinary views – scientific and technological, arts and humanities, social sciences •  Medical sciences and human health
  • 30. Leadership & Participation Here we focus on who is the ‘project owner’: the body, group or individual that has control over the project’s development. We discuss the roles of participants and their engagement with the project. •  Individual, community-led or research-led •  Organisations (RPOs, CSOs, public) •  Commercial activities •  Degree of engagement •  Small vs large scale •  Professionalism vs voluntarism •  Science engagement and education •  Links to decision making
  • 31. Financial Aspects Unlike other contributions that are happening in citizen science (e.g. time, use of physical resources, use of knowledge and expertise), financial transactions stand out as an area that can lead to contention about the classification of a project. •  Financial support for scientific research •  Payment to take part in a project. •  Incentives to participate in an activity.
  • 32. Data & Knowledge The final section looks at how data- and knowledge- generation issues influence a given activity. •  Data and knowledge generation. •  Data ownership and use •  Data quality •  Local and lay knowledge-sharing and application •  Opportunistic vs systematic data collection •  Digital data-collection tools •  Sharing personal and medical data
  • 34. •  The characteriscs working group included Muki Haklay, Ariel Lindner, Alice Motion, Bálint Balázs, Barbara Kieslinger, Bastian Greshake Tzovaras, Christian Nold, Daniel Dörler, Dilek Fraisl, Dorte Riemenschneider, Florian Heigl, Fredrik Brounéus, Gerid Hager, Katja Heuer, Katherin Wagenknecht, Katrin Vohland, Lea Shanley, Lionel Deveaux, Luigi Ceccaroni, Maike Weisspflug, Margaret Gold, Marzia Mazzonetto, Monika Mačiulienė, Sasha Woods, Soledad Luna, Susanne Hecker, Teresa Schaefer, Tim Woods, and Uta Wehn. •  The development of these characteristics was supported by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 824580), project EU-Citizen.Science, the ERC Advanced Grant project ECSAnVis (grant agreement No. 694767). Thanks to the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation long term partnership,this work was partly supported by CRI Research Fellowships to Muki Haklay, Alice Motion, and Bastian Greshake Tzovaras.