Surveying the citizen science landscape: An exploration of the design, delivery and impact of citizen science through the lens of the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) programme

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Abstract

Background: This paper provides a short introduction to the topic of citizen science (CS) identifying the shift from the knowledge deficit model to more inclusive, participatory science. It acknowledges the benefits of new technology and the opportunities it brings for mass participation and data manipulation. It focuses on the increase in interest in CS in recent years and draws on experience gained from the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) programme launched in England in 2007. Methods: The drivers and objectives for OPAL are presented together with background information on the partnership, methods and scales. The approaches used by researchers ranged from direct public participation in mass data collection through field surveys to research with minimal public engagement. The supporting services focused on education, particularly to support participants new to science, a media strategy and data services. Results: Examples from OPAL are used to illustrate the different approaches to the design and delivery of CS that have emerged over recent years and the breadth of opportunities for public participation the current landscape provides. Qualitative and quantitative data from OPAL are used as evidence of the impact of CS. Conclusion: While OPAL was conceived ahead of the more recent formalisation of approaches to the design, delivery and analysis of CS projects and their impact, it nevertheless provides a range of examples against which to assess the various benefits and challenges emerging in this fast developing field.

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Davies, L., Fradera, R., Riesch, H., & Lakeman-Fraser, P. (2016). Surveying the citizen science landscape: An exploration of the design, delivery and impact of citizen science through the lens of the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) programme. BMC Ecology, 16. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12898-016-0066-z

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