A new article, published in Nature Methods Reviews Primers, explains how groups of non-experts can contribute significantly to scientific research, becoming integral to the creation of integrated, evidence-based knowledge. This is especially true in fields that include some of today’s most pressing challenges, such as environmental pollution, food security, biodiversity loss or the climate crisis.

The article gives an overview of the potential of citizen science as a valuable method for scientists and practitioners in the environmental and ecological sciences who may be unfamiliar with it, focusing on different stages of citizen science practice, from planning to implementation, evaluation and data management.

In particular, the article presents a series of concrete examples, recounting the experiences of some citizen science projects with different applications: e.g. biodiversity research, land cover assessment, monitoring forest health and marine pollution.

One of the model citizen science projects making the list of good examples in the article is NEWSERA Pilot Urbamar, that engages participants to monitor and understand the factors affecting biodiversity in beaches around the Barcelona Metropolitan Area:

“The project provides a successful example of the Quintuple Helix innovation model applied in citizen science with the participation of academia, industry, government and civil society153. The engagement of different actors — and of volunteering participants in particular — has facilitated a new societal perception of the marine biodiversity in the urban environment which may affect future policies of coastal management in the city. This highlights the collective impact contributory citizen science can have”.

Urbamar is among the pilot projects taking part in the NEWSERA #CitSciComm Labs, a series of workshops dedicated to co-creating innovative communication strategies for citizen science.

In the article, the authors also bring attention to the impacts and great potential of citizen science to monitor progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which require a collective global effort, or to collect large-scale data especially in areas suffering from gaps in data.

Read the full article on Nature Methods Reviews Primers


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