Citizens and Scientists: An Engaging Relationship

Watsonville Wetlands Watch

While it is clear that citizen science has revolutionized the methodology behind collecting and analyzing data, how have these processes impacted the traditional nature of scientists whose conduct of research is often socially detached and highly sophisticated? As the relationship between citizens and scientists continues to evolve, their collaborative role in the production of knowledge has become the topic of new research by Jennifer Shirk and Scott Peters at Cornell University.

Peters and Shirk are exploring the complex social relationship between the interests of scientists and their engagement with the public during the conduct of citizen science. By examining the work done by nine PhD scientists, who have significant involvement in citizen science projects, they found that this relationship goes well beyond aggregation and interpretation of data. In fact, the relationship of scientists and their citizen counterparts has developed into one that combines diverse perspectives to facilitate an integrated dialogue for learning and action. The results of the study will be presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 2015 Annual Meeting in February.

Dr. Shirk will be panelist at the Tracking a Changing Climate: Citizen Science Contributions to the National Climate Assessment event at the Wilson Center on November 18th. As Program Manager for CitizenScience.org at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Dr. Shirk supports a community of practitioners who lead, manage, implement and research citizen science projects.

About the Author

Robert McNamara is a graduate Research Assistant in the Commons Lab and a M.A. student of Science and Technology Policy at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs with a concentration in International Development Management.

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