Describing public participation in scientific research

Publication Type:

Working paper


Syracuse University School of Information Studies (2011)


We report the results of a descriptive survey of citizen science projects, a form of scientific collaboration engaging members of the public with professional researchers. This phenomenon has seen explosive growth in recent years and is garnering interest from a broadening variety of research domains. However, the lack of adequate description of this diverse population hinders useful research. To address this gap, we conducted a survey of citizen science projects. We present a description of the phenomenon to establish a basis for sampling and evaluation of research on citizen science, including details on project resources, participation, technologies, goals, and outcomes. We then reflect on several points of potential development, including technologies to support participation, potential for expanding engagement, and data policies. The diverse organizational and functional arrangements in citizen science projects suggest a variety of areas for future research.


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