October 18, 2012
There is an irony in being a person interested in online engagement with science, digital research, social media and divers public stuff and yet being a person who twizzles up inside when she thinks about writing a blog post. Like Pope Clement VI sitting out the Black Death, I am caught between two fires.
I’ve been telling myself I’d write a post when the results of my PhD oral examination and thesis were properly sanctioned but really, the official procedures take an unconscionable time, hence the embarrassingly long gap. To bring you up to date, back in the summer I survived the oral exam. and the examiners recommended I be awarded the PhD subject to some minor amendments to the thesis. I’m currently waiting to hear if the corrections have been accepted.
However, revenons à nos moutons, next week is Open Access Week around the world so I must ignore the flames of personal squeamishness and stoke the blaze of professional openness.
I will be playing a small part in the University of Exeter’s Open Exeter events, to talk about whether open science can be a shared space for fostering public engagement with science. The fact that citizens, community groups and NGOs are demanding – and in many cases getting – access to evidence that enables us to scrutinise research and participate effectively is widely recognised – for example by the Royal Society. That being so, we have to think about the relationship between professional and non-professional researchers; why might members of the public want to contribute to research? what knowledge and expertise will they bring? what new skills will participants need to develop? how are the contributions of all participants to be valued?
I’ll be helping to discuss the issues a bit further at SpotOn London, in November. With Cindy Regalado and Shannon Dosemagen, we want to explore citizen science as public participation in research. The spirit of SpotOn is very much about collaboration, connection and community discussion, so I intend to be as provocative as I dare! I’ll be starting the session by asking eh question of what we mean by ‘public participation in research’. Can we move beyond the concept of public participants as data suppliers, data organisers and human computers (effective though we might be in those roles and exciting as many people find such participation). How we can open science support co-creation and collaboration? How will the roles of ‘scientist’ and ‘citizen’ change? What happens when scientists are nudged from their traditional role as research designers and decision-makers? How do we value the contribution of the expertise and skills of citizen scientists? What ethical considerations are involved in challenging the notions of what ‘people’ can do? How do we value the validity and credibility of the contributions of citizen scientists? What are the current issues in participatory research in environmental and health research structures?
SpotOn will be livestreamed and tweeted (hashtag #solo12citizen). It will be interesting to see if the conversation goes beyond the room and into the open air.
1 Comment | Uncategorized | Tagged: citizen science, open access, Open Science, Public engagement with science | Permalink
Posted by Ann
August 25, 2009
At the Citizen Science workshop, hosted last week by the Galaxy Zoo project, two of the people taking part were actual, real, citizen scientists. Both had careers outside science but had been drawn back into study through their involvement with the project. They were lovely, enthusiastic people and completely involved in Galaxy Zoo, spending long hours not just classifying the galaxies but helping to run the forum, gather material for papers, initiate new developments in the project and more.
They both said was that they liked being ‘zooites’ because they felt valued as collaborators, not used as ‘computers’ – that they were really ‘sharing in the science’. And also, most interestingly for me, that they felt those things because the stuff they were doing is good science.
If citizens are going to devote time and energy to a project, they have to feel it’s worthwhile. No one likes to feel used or relegated to being a mere resource. Citizen scientists, like any other scientists, want to know that the research is hypothesis-driven and that the results matter. Science is driven by questions and citizen science is no different to any other kind.
Leave a Comment » | Uncategorized | Tagged: citizen science, galaxy zoo, Public engagement with science | Permalink
Posted by Ann
June 25, 2009
One of the things I do in the evenings and weekends is copy-editing. Lots of different stuff – textbooks and science and philosophy and religion and … I love helping other people make the sort of book they really want to write. (I am, however, famously nit-picking and pedantic. Don’t come to me if you want to use ‘impact’ as a verb.)
The book I’ve been working on recently is a beginner’s guide to journalism, one of the chapters of which is about the future of journalism now that we’re all content-providers (this, being said on a blog, is looking dangerously incestuous).
What intrigued me is that how ‘citizen journalism’ could be replaced by ‘citizen science’ and the sense would have been exactly the same. Citizen journalism is democratising, heralds the beginning of ‘bottom-up’ journalism but are standards under threat? Instead of carefully-crafted news, are we faced with a flood of pseudo-news? Rather than a tightly-argued discussion of a complex event, will readers be left to weave the narrative for themselves from a bunch of hyperlinks? What happens to quality and content when untrained ‘news bunnies’ are let loose? While blogging and micro-blogging open up critical debate, do they also increase the quantity of unverified fact at large in the ether?
The zeitgeist is changing. From advertising to zoology, the old metrics don’t work as well any more. So we have to create new ones but in doing so, we’ll set everything in flux and have to go through a period of some pain.
3 Comments | Uncategorized | Tagged: beginner's guide, citizen journalism, citizen science, copy-editing, Open Science, Public engagement with science | Permalink
Posted by Ann