The role of citizen science in engaging publics in science and technology – Citizen Inquiry

The role of citizen science in engaging publics in science and technology – Citizen Inquiry

Author: Eileen Scanlon – Open University, United Kingdom

Maria Aristeidou – Open University
Christothea Herodotou – Open University
Mike Sharples – Open University

Citizen science is a developing field of interest for many researchers. Projects range from those where the public are invited to take part and assist the research scientists in an endeavour, to those where citizens themselves initiate and engage in investigations. Categorisations of citizen science activity have been offered (see e.g. Curtis , 2015) where distinctions are made about the purpose and motivations of both scientists or the public, and the nature of the activities in which citizens are engaged, or the influence of digital technologies (Allan and Redden, 2016). Lewenstein (2016) notes this complexity and points out that ‘ they [citizen scientists] are learning science at the same time as they are challenging scientific orthodoxies and making claims on the governance of science’ (Lewenstein, 2016, p2). Also there have been concerns expressed about various ethical implications of citizen science projects (Medvecky and Leach, 2017).

This paper will present our concept of citizen inquiry, where we have synthesised citizen science with features of inquiry learning (Herodotou et al., 2017). It involves a proposal which supports the active engagement of the public in citizen science activities such as collecting or analysing data but also their engagement in the process of initiation, implementation, and completion of personally meaningful scientific projects.


Allan, S. and Redden, J. (2017). Making citizen science newsworthy in the era of big data, JCOM 16 (02), C O5

Curtis, V. (2015). Online citizen science projects: an exploration of motivation, contribution and participation, PhD thesis, Open University

Herodotou, C., Sharples, M. and Scanlon, E. eds. (2017). Citizen Inquiry: Synthesising Science and Inquiry Learning. Abingdon: Routledge

Lewenstein, B. (2016) Can we understand citizen science? JCOM, 15(1),E,1-5

Medvecky, F. and Leach, J. (2017). The ethics of science communication. JCOM, 16(04), 1-5,

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices