Efforts underway to share project metadata

This post was first published on the Citizen Science Association’s blog: http://citizenscienceassociation.org/2015/06/11/efforts-underway-to-share-project-metadata/

As the field of citizen science continues to grow, there is an increasing need to document information about different projects. Collecting and maintaining this information will help practitioners discover each other’s work, help projects recruit volunteers, and enable researchers to study “the science of citizen science” by accessing data about project goals, impacts, and practices.  With these needs in mind, a number or organizations with complementary goals are compiling repositories of projects in citizen science and related fields:

  • SciStarter helps projects recruit volunteers
  • CitizenScience.org supports professional networking between citizen science practitioners
  • Citsci.org supports projects by providing a technical infrastructure for data management
  • The Wilson Center focuses on projects supported by U.S federal agencies
  • Many other repositories detailing projects in geographical regions and/or interest areas

The PPSR_CORE data model is an agreement detailing common project metadata (data about projects) designed to facilitate easy and standardized data sharing, and to develop a common vocabulary for discussing the different components of citizen science.

While some metadata descriptions may be unique to projects of distinct types, we believe that there are core metadata descriptions that do apply to a majority of projects in citizen science and related fields. These are articulated in metadata format in the table below. Some fields describe projects themselves, while others are automated and serve to help organize data sharing. (View these fields in metadata format.)

 Capture

We suggest that a common metadata structure will benefit the broad community of people interested in citizen science, which includes but is not limited to efforts like crowdsourcing, public science, community science, volunteered geographic information, and other forms of public participation.

From a data sharing standpoint, our aims include:

  • Basic information about projects can be shared and synchronized automatically across participating databases,
  • Project leaders will be able to add and edit information about their projects in a single place of their choosing,
  • Project updates in one database will be reflected across other databases serving different communities
  • Individuals searching for projects can be confident that results contain the most up-to-date information.

While we recognize that some project databases may utilize additional fields, we hope that the fields identified as core will be embraced by all.

Who is involved

This initiative began with the DataONE Public Participation in Scientific Research (PPSR) working group, active from 2011 to 2014. Since that time, SciStarter, Citsci.org, CitizenScience.org, and the Wilson Center have continued building PPSR_CORE to support data sharing and a shared understanding of citizen science. Together, we are submitting a proposal to the Citizen Science Association for a metadata working group with the goal of further developing a standardized vocabulary for characterizing citizen science projects. We welcome any suggestions or contributions from the community at large. Anyone who wishes to be a part of these efforts should contact Anne Bowser via data@citizenscienceassociation.org.

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