2022 journal article

Citizen Science as an Ecosystem of Engagement: Implications for Learning and Broadening Participation

BIOSCIENCE, 72(7), 651–663.

By: B. Allf*, C. Cooper*, L. Larson n, R. Dunn*, S. Futch*, M. Sharova*, D. Cavalier*

author keywords: public science; conservation; volunteer management; crowdsourcing; education
Source: Web Of Science
Added: July 5, 2022

Abstract The bulk of research on citizen science participants is project centric, based on an assumption that volunteers experience a single project. Contrary to this assumption, survey responses (n = 3894) and digital trace data (n = 3649) from volunteers, who collectively engaged in 1126 unique projects, revealed that multiproject participation was the norm. Only 23% of volunteers were singletons (who participated in only one project). The remaining multiproject participants were split evenly between discipline specialists (39%) and discipline spanners (38% joined projects with different disciplinary topics) and unevenly between mode specialists (52%) and mode spanners (25% participated in online and offline projects). Public engagement was narrow: The multiproject participants were eight times more likely to be White and five times more likely to hold advanced degrees than the general population. We propose a volunteer-centric framework that explores how the dynamic accumulation of experiences in a project ecosystem can support broad learning objectives and inclusive citizen science.