Stuck without the middle – how facilitators can help researchers do better citizen science

Stuck without the middle – how facilitators can help researchers do better citizen science

Author: Fredrik Brouneus – VA (Public & Science), Sweden, Sweden


  • Martin Bergman – VA (Public & Science), Sweden
  • Lotta Tomasson – VA (Public & Science), Sweden

Engaging volunteers in research through citizen science can pose unfamiliar challenges to even the most experienced researcher. As new stakeholders are invited into the research process, demands arise for expertise and resources not normally required in traditional research projects. Since 2009 the Swedish non-profit organisation Public & Science has been coordinating an annual citizen science project for schools as part of Swedish European Researchers’ Night events (ForskarFredag). In these “mass experiments”, we have helped researchers collaborate with tens of thousands of Swedish pupils on a wide variety of research questions. Through this collaboration, researchers get access to data that would have been impossible to collect through traditional research, the pupils get a hands-on experience of doing real research, while teachers have the opportunity to include research-based material in the curriculum. To date, the mass experiments have explored topics such as light pollution, digital source criticism, climate change and biodiversity. As coordinators, our tasks include helping researchers structure and adjust their communication on aims, methods and research tasks, and in providing participants with timely and targeted feedback – tasks that are not part of the regular toolbox of a researcher, but which are key to a successful citizen science project. We further assist researchers in adapting research protocols to the needs and preferences of the intended target group(s) while ensuring good data quality, recruiting and organising teachers and students, and doing media work for wide dissemination. In this visual presentation we will describe our model for facilitating citizen science, based on 11 years of experience as an intermediary between science and society. Here, we will discuss opportunities and challenges related to all steps of the process, from selecting the research topic and stimulating researcher–participant dialogue, to disseminating results and conducting post-project evaluations.

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Presentation type: Visual presentation
Theme: Transformation