Citizen science is a term coined to describe activities conducted by scientists in collaboration or consultation with the public at any stage of a research project.
Its key feature is the active role of the citizens in doing research, from (co)design of the research questions, data collection and processing, data interpretation and analysis, up to publication and dissemination of results, and the implementation of new tools and policies.
Citizen science in ERC projects
With the intention to map the breadth and diversity of the citizen science activities the ERC supports, this factsheet offers a brief overview of the ERC’s portfolio on citizen science. It also includes highlights from a selected number of projects across scientific domains. While it does not represent an exhaustive list of ERC projects using citizen science, the identified 69 projects showcase a plurality of activities.
In a nutshell:
- 69 projects from 19 countries
- €125 million budget
- 42 Social Sciences and Humanities, 17 Life Sciences, 9 Physical Sciences and Engineering
- wide spectrum of engagement, from researcher-led to participatory and action-oriented approach.
ERC Annual Event 2022
Citizen Science and Frontier Research was the topic of ERC Annual Conference, which took place on 7 December 2002. The event was an opportunity to learn from ERC grantees who are leading innovative citizen science activities, from amateur stargazers photographing and analysing new auroral phenomena, to students collecting and classifying samples of fruit flies or citizens using smartphones to monitor dust particles.
Showcase by ERC grantees and other EU-funded projects
Building on ERC Annual Event 2022 on Citizen Science and Frontier Research, the showcase of projects funded by ERC and other EU programmes below demonstrates the plurality of approaches and methodologies within and across disciplines.
Capturing traditional ecological knowledge through Extreme Citizen Science
ECSAnVis has developed geographical analysis and visualisation tools that can be used by people with limited literacy, in a culturally appropriate way. Its Geographic Information System (GIS) interface and underlying algorithms provided communities with tools to combine their local environmental knowledge with scientific analysis to improve environmental management.
The project included collaboration with local indigenous partners on case studies in critically important, yet fragile and menaced ecosystems in different locations (Congo basin, Namibia, Brazilian Amazon, and UK). An interdisciplinary team of anthropologists, geographers, ecologists, and computer scientists has developed innovative hardware, software and participatory methodologies that enable any community to use this novel solution.
"Nous sommes en train de pleurer avec notre connaîssance de la fôret" (We are weeping with our knowledge of the forest)” Mangombe Felix (Cameroon)
Project: ECSAnVis - Extreme Citizen Science: Analysis and Visualisation
Researcher: Muki Haklay
Host Institution: University College London – United Kingdom
ERC funding: Advanced Grant 2015
Project research group: ExCiteS
- Skarlatidou A, Haklay M eds. (2021) Geographic Citizen Science Design - No one left behind, Open Access PDF,
- Moustard F et al (2021) “Using Sapelli in the Field: Methods and Data for an Inclusive Citizen Science”, Front. Ecol. Evol., Sec. Conservation and Restoration Ecology
- Chiaravalloti RM et al (2021) “Extreme citizen science: Lessons learned from initiatives around the globe”, Conservation Science and Practice v.4
A European Citizen Science network in adaptation genomics
Melanogaster Catch the Fly! (MCTF!) brings together high school teachers and students, from rural areas of Spain, Germany, Ukraine, Serbia, and Colombia, and their local communities, with scientists and communication experts to collaborate towards the advancement of frontier science.
School teachers and students collect and classify Drosophila species (fruit flies), which are then sequenced and analyzed to understand how organisms adapt to the environment. Activities also include teacher training courses in genomics and science communication; bioinformatic analysis modules that introduce students to big data analysis; and a service and learning methodology that allows citizens to investigate the effects of climate change on local biodiversity.
“The #MelanogasterCTF experience has brought about a new approach to insect genome research for its possible applications. It has also led me to be interested in more citizen science projects in which I can participate”
Cristina Arjona (Student, CES Ramón y Cajal, Granada, Spain)
Project: DROSADAPTATION - New approaches to long-standing questions: adaptation in Drosophila
Researcher: Josefa Gonzalez
Host Institution: Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) - Spain
ERC funding: Consolidator Grant 2014
Project website: Meganogaster
Using smartphone cameras to monitor dust particles in the atmosphere
The iSPEX project started as an educational spin-off from activities developing SPEX. After building dedicated spectropolarimetric smartphone add-ons, the associated app, and setting up distribution channels, the team established a network of thousands of volunteers across the Netherlands carrying out iSPEX measurements to characterize aerosols.
iSPEX was one of the first massive citizen science projects of its kind and led to several activities to stimulate citizen science on a national level: at the Dutch environmental protection agency, through the Citizen Science Lab at Leiden University, and by establishing the national strategy and associated national network for citizen science (CS-NL). iSPEX 2 will soon be available for citizen science projects that involve measurements of both water and air pollution.
Project: FALCONER - Forging Advanced Liquid-Crystal Coronagraphs Optimized for Novel Exoplanet Research
Researcher: Frans Snik
Host Institution: Leiden University - Netherlands
ERC funding: Starting Grant 2015
Burggraaff O et al. (2020), "A universal smartphone add-on for portable spectroscopy and polarimetry: iSPEX 2", Proc. SPIE 11389, Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications XII, 113892K, arXiv:2006.01519v1
Discovering a new form of the Northern Lights
Minna Palmroth encouraged amateur stargazers to take pictures of a certain type of aurora borealis with calibrated camera clocks. Her team could later confirm a new auroral form in one of the least studied regions of the atmosphere, 80-120 kilometres in altitude. Named 'dunes' by the hobbyists, the phenomenon is believed to be caused by waves of oxygen atoms glowing due to a stream of particles released from the Sun.
Palmroth published a book/guide for aurora borealis watchers’, born out of her cooperation with Northern Lights enthusiasts in the hobbyists' Facebook group. Thousands of magnificent amateur photographs taken by hobbyists were surveyed and categorised for the book.
"One of the wildest and most beautiful aurora displays appeared before my eyes. At the same time, an incredible journey into the fascinating world of northern lights and their research began”
Citizen Scientist (7 October 2015)
Project: PRESTISSIMO - Plasma Reconnection, Shocks and Turbulence in Solar System Interactions: Modelling and Observations
Researcher: Minna Palmroth
Host Institution: University of Helsinki - Finland
ERC funding: Consolidator Grant 2015
ERC highlights: ERC Story and ERC Video
Calling upon citizen scientists to hear and mark musical structures
“How to use CosmoNote”
COSMOS’ citizen science activities are centered on the CosmoNote web portal. It presents synchronized, layered visualisations of continuous and discrete information, such as music audio and events, tempo and loudness, and harmonic tension, that can be toggled on and off. Annotation tools enable the markup of boundaries (strengths 1-4), regions of interest, note sets, and comments. CosmoNote was launched in December 2021 with Glenn Gould’s 1955 recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
There is a growing library of music collections and training examples. Future editions will include physiological signals and tools to re-shape musical expressivity.
"It was quite easy for a non-musician to annotate these pieces of music. (…) I like the fact that visualization options were available so we could show or hide different aspects of the music (tempo, notes, music wave...) and easily adapt to everyone in order to have a unique experience."
Project: COSMOS - Computational Shaping and Modeling of Musical Structures
Researcher: Elaine Chew
Host Institution: King's College London, UK
ERC funding: Advanced Grant 2017
Project website: COSMOS / CosmoNote
ERC highlights: ERC Podcast
- Chew, E., P. Loui, G. Leslie, C. Palmer, J. Berger, E. Large, N. F. Bernardi, S. Hanser, J. F. Thayer, M. Casey, P. Lambiase (2021). How Music Can Literally Heal the Heart. Medicine | Opinion, Scientific American, 18 Sep 2021. bit.ly/sciam-muscheart
- Chew, E., M. Orini, P. Lambiase (2021). Putting (One’s) Heart Into Music. Cardiopulse, European Heart Journal, 42(28): 2721-2724. doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehab108
- Fyfe, L., D. Bedoya, E. Chew (2022). Annotation and Analysis of Recorded Piano Performances on the Web. Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, 70(11): 962-978. https://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=22020
Citizen science using hobby gardening for agrobiodiversity
Interventions at the landscape level require multiple actors to become involved, including farmers, private landowners, communities, nature organizations. One way to stimulate engagement is through learning in citizen science projects, where actors interact with the positive and negative effects of agrobiodiversity. Therefore, we need a better understanding of what aspects of citizen science projects facilitate and counteract learning outcomes towards sustainable transitions.
The grantee’s research group at Ghent University has recently conducted citizen science in this field. Participants weekly interacted with agrobiodiversity in landscape observatories in the provinces of East-Flanders and Antwerp in Belgium between May and September in 2018, 2019 and 2021. The observatories consisted of 40 and 25 standardized mini-gardens of 1 m², planted with ten vegetable crops. Participants were asked to visit their 1 m²-garden and perform tasks according to a scientific protocol (e.g. weeding, harvesting). During both seasons, there were weekly contacts between volunteers and the research team during informal field visits, via email, in a private Facebook group and on several gathering events.
Project: UnderSCORE - A web-based Decision Support System to score forest understorey dynamics in response to management interventions in a changing world )
Researcher: Kris Verheyen
Host Institution: Ghent University - Belgium
ERC funding: Proof of Concept 2019
ERC highlights: RTD Success story
Gerits F et al (2021), "A social–ecological framework and toolbox to help strengthening functional agrobiodiversity-supported ecosystem services at the landscape scale", Ambio 50: 360–374, https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-020-01382-0
Gerits F et al. (2022), "Disentangling the interrelated abiotic and biotic pathways linking landscape composition and crop production", Journal of Applied Ecology 59(11), https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.14269
• ILVO / Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO), Biodiversity and ecosystem services in relation to agriculture, https://ilvo.vlaanderen.be/en/dossiers/biodiversity-and-ecosystem-servi…
Unmasking the functioning of personalization algorithms
Data Activism Futures
ALEX provides researchers, advocates, policymakers and journalists with reliable and accessible algorithmic auditing methods and data. For instance, the browser extension tracking.exposed empowers users to independently monitor, compare, and reflect upon their information served (or not) by platforms. By enabling self-awareness, it promotes a healthy “information diet” and fosters a responsible use of social media and shopping platforms.
The team run hackatons and “datathons” with volunteer open-source developers in the improvement of social media tracker tools. 800 Dutch voters were also collectively tracking the impact of Facebook’s personalization algorithms in the 2021 Dutch national elections.
In the previous ERC DATACTIVE project, digital rights advocates and citizens collectively set the priorities of the research agenda, and a multilingual COVID-19 blog and open-access book was published from the perspective of vulnerable communities (migrants and refugees, survivors of domestic violence, caretakers, gig workers, various countries in the Global South).
Project: ALEX - ALgorithms EXposed. Investigating Automated Personalization and Filtering for Research and Activism / DATACTIVE - Data activism: The politics of big data according to civil society
Researcher: Stefania MILAN
Host Institution: University of Amsterdam - Netherlands
ERC funding: Proof of Concept Grant 2018
Project website: DATACTIVE (https://data-activism.net/) / ALEX (https://algorithms.exposed)
ERC highlights: ERC Story and ERC Podcast
How to improve vaginal health through mapping of lactobacilli
The aim of the Isala project within the ERC Lacto-Be project is to map the presence and abundance of lactobacilli in the human vagina and how these lactobacilli are influenced by lifestyle, life course and environment. Her team invited healthy women to take their own vaginal swabs and therefore empower them to take their health into their own hands.
More than 6000 women registered, 4686 filled out a questionnaire about demographic, lifestyle and environmental factors, and around 3342 sent back their self-sampling kits to the lab. Isala provides participants with the opportunity to co-create with scientists, as they welcome their questions, testimonials, creative ideas and remarks.
"The effective research in which you had to take swabs, a sample of your vagina, skin and saliva, could be done within your own comfort zone."
Marjan De Roeck (participant/donor to Isala)
Project: Lacto-Be - Advancing Lactobacillus’ beneficial potential
Researcher: Sarah Lebeer
Host Institution: University of Antwerp - Belgium
ERC funding: Starting Grant 2019
Project website: Isala
Citizen science games to foster skills and explore social dilemmas
In the context of the ERC project MECTRL citizen science games were developed under the umbrella of the ScienceAtHome platform with more than 300,000 contributors. Here, complex natural science problems related to quantum computers, NP-hard computer science problems and Millennium Math Challenges are explored alongside systematic cognitive/social science studies and large-scale game-based assessment of basic cognitive skills and complex skills like creativity "in the wild".
The associated Games4Good division explores games fostering public participation in social dilemmas such as the CoronaMinister game crowdsourcing solutions for corona containment initiatives and crea.visions launched with the UN organization AI4Good and the Danish Public Climate Summit to allow AI-enhanced generation of future scenarios.
“It can give the people a great impression of the future. Not just an image in your mind, but something you can see on the laptop. So you can create it and actually see it.”
(Venetian marketing student)
Project: MECTRL - Measurement-based dynamic control of mesoscopic many-body systems
Researcher: Jacob Friis Sherson
Host Institution: Aarhus University - Denmark
ERC funding: Starting Grant 2014
How citizens are studying urban ‘wild’ spaces
The team is working with citizens to identify as many research questions as possible; questions that urban communities wish to apply in the field. So far, case study locations are in Dublin, Ireland; London and Glasgow, UK; Valetta, Malta; Melbourne, Australia; Copenhagen, Denmark, New York and New Jersey, USA; and Bogotá, Colombia. Next, the team will engage citizens in co-creating an online instrument to enable ecological data collection within urban novel ecosystems.
During data collection the citizen scientists will also record their perceptions towards formal and informal urban wild spaces to reveal whether engagement with them alters their values and perhaps even their environmental behaviour.
NovelEco will measure the societal attitudes to urban wild spaces by asking citizens to study them. Such spaces were chosen as the most likely spaces where many citizens will encounter ‘wild’ nature, particularly people and communities with little financial resources to visit wild nature in a remote setting.
Project: NovelEco - Societal Attitudes to Urban Novel Ecosystems
Researcher: Marcus Collier
Host Institution: Trinity College - Ireland
ERC funding: Consolidator Grant 2020
Connecting environmental sensing and citizen engagement
Citizen Sense works with communities to analyze their sensor data, and to develop “data stories” that communicate findings to wider audiences, including policymakers and regulators. The citizen data has documented new and suspected pollution sources, and has provided evidence to support community proposals and projects for improving environments and reducing pollution.
These activities have contributed to evidence that supported the expansion of an air quality monitoring network in the US, to a request for a parliamentary debate on poor air quality in the UK, and to demonstrations of air quality gardens that have been exhibited at the Museum of London in the City Now, City Future exhibition attended by nearly 1 million visitors.
Citizen Sense also developed a toolkit of its working methods as an “Airkit” toolkit to enable a wider range of participants to monitor their air quality levels and generate data to support community projects.
Project: CITIZEN SENSE - Citizen Sensing and Environmental Practice: Assessing Participatory Engagements with Environments through Sensor Technologies / AirKit - Citizen Sense Air Monitoring Kit
Researcher: Jennifer Gabrys
Host Institution: University of London - Goldsmiths' College / University of Cambridge – United Kingdom
ERC funding: Starting Grant 2012 + Proof of Concept 2017
Project website: Citizen Sense / Airkit
Developing skills and actions for strengthening water justice
World’s rivers are fundamental to social and natural well-being but profoundly affected by mega-damming and pollution. In response, diverse new water justice movements (NWJMs) have emerged worldwide. River communities, civil organizations, activists, and social movements develop new ideas and practices of river co-governance and (re)claim river commons.
RIVERHOOD project studies and supports evolving NWJMs and citizens coalitions fighting to revitalise rivers in all senses. The project's partners investigate eight case studies in Europe and South America (cross-continentally) to develop a new analytical framework to study NWJMs and "riverhoods" and foster knowledge co-creation and democratisation from the bottom up.
RIVERHOOD organizes innovative cross-culturally interlinked Environmental Justice Labs (EJLs) as interactive citizen science and action-research spaces engaging transdisciplinary stakeholders in South and North. Such Labs allow to understand pluriversal water worlds and, at the same time, foster co-creation and the democratization of knowledge.
Project: RIVERHOOD - Living Rivers and the New Water Justice Movements: From Dominating Waterscapes to the Rights of Nature
Researcher: Rutgerd Boellens
Host Institution: Wageningen University - Netherlands
ERC funding: Consolidator Grant 2020
Project website: RIVERHOOD
Boelens, R., A. Escobar, K. Bakker, L. Hommes, E. Swyngedouwe, et al. (2022). Riverhood: Political ecologies of socio-nature commoning and translocal struggles for water justice. Journal of Peasant Studies,
Boelens, R., J. Forigua-Sandoval, B. Duarte-Abadía & J.C. Gutiérrez-Camargo (2021). River lives, River movements. Fisher communities mobilizing local and official rules in defense of the Magdalena River. The Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law, 53(3), 458-476
Citizens measuring indoor air quality and co-creating solutions
As part of the ERC CoCi project, the COSS team at ETH collaborated with the Citizen Science Center Zurich to initiate the "Know the air you breathe" citizen science project. Its aim was to learn what scientists and citizens already know about indoor air quality (IAQ), discuss missing information, encourage citizens to share their questions and concerns, and co-create solutions to address critical challenges related to IAQ.
The first co-creation workshop discussed why should citizens participate and eventually spend time measuring and monitoring IAQ? What are the advantages for citizens? What are the implications for scientists? The second workshop concentrated on the "What" and "How" of data collection and measurement.
“It is a great platform for citizens to interact with researchers (…). It's fascinating to see how co-creation environments enable citizens (like me) to voice my concerns, opinions and directly participate in co-creating solutions that are scientifically valid and relevant to citizens' concerns.”
(Ms. Sunali Sharma, Zurich)
Mahajan, S., Chung, M.K., Martinez, J., Olaya, Y., Helbing, D. and Chen, L.J., 2022. Translating citizen-generated air quality data into evidence for shaping policy. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 9(1), pp.1-18, doi:10.1057/s41599-022-01135-2
What it means to vote for citizens
DeVOTE aims to provide first-time evidence on what ‘voting’ means for ordinary citizens and examine the variations of these ‘meanings’ between individuals and across countries. The project looks at democracies but also at so-called autocracies in Europe and beyond (e.g. Hungary and Russia).
The overall objective of the project is to gather citizens' views in a variety of ways including a citizen-science website, interviews and focus groups. The citizen science website of DeVOTE welcomes all citizens of voting age to try the four different activities and share their opinion and observations while directly contributing to innovative research.
“To me, voting is a system that allows the public to select their leaders to manage
their affairs over a specific period. (…) “Voting means electing a person with which your beliefs align (…) Voting gives people a choice to express themselves.”
Citizens’ views about voting
Project: DeVOTE - The meanings of ‘voting’ for ordinary citizens, their causes and consequences
Researcher: Carolina Plescia
Host Institution: University of Vienna - Austria
ERC funding: Starting Grant 2020
Project website: DeVOTE
Crowdsourcing breathing, coughs and voices for disease diagnostics
Detection of human activity and physiological signals (such as cardiac or respiratory signals) continuously, at scale, and affordably is a holy grail in medical care. A variety of disease diagnostics and progression would be improved if such information could be gathered and used to assess health status.
The ERC EAR project demonstrates how audio collected by devices we carry around in our daily life can aid the continuous diagnostics of diseases and disease progression. One of the studies used algorithms on crowdsourced breathing, coughs and voices of participants to improve automatic, affordable and digital COVID-19 testing as well as disease progression.
COVID-19 Sounds is the largest multi-modal dataset of COVID-19 respiratory sounds. The project has collected and released to the academic community a dataset consisting of 53,449 audio samples (over 552 hours in total) crowd-sourced from 36,116 participants through the COVID-19 Sounds app.
Project: EAR - Audio Based Mobile Health Diagnostics
Researcher: Cecilia Mascolo
Host Institution: University of Cambridge – United Kingdom
ERC funding: Advanced Grant 2018
ERC funding: COVID-19 Sounds
Dang T et al. (2022), "Exploring Longitudinal Cough, Breath, and Voice Data for COVID-19 Disease Progression Prediction via Sequential Deep Learning: Model Development and Validation", Journal of medical Internet research (JMIR),
Tong Xia T et al. (2021), "COVID-19 Sounds: A Large-Scale Audio Dataset for Digital Respiratory Screening", Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems, Datasets and Benchmarks Track (NeurIPS 2021)
Near-real-time reporting on disease transmitting mosquitoes
Mosquito Alert enables ordinary people anywhere in the world to report mosquitoes that can transmit diseases like dengue, Zika, and chikungunya, and it passes this information to a team of entomologists for validation and feedback. The Mosquito Alert application has a bite module that allows anyone to notify that they have been bitten by a mosquito. You can indicate the number of bites, in which part of the body they have been received, in what type of environment, the place and the time. All of the information is shared in near-real-time with the H-MIP team as well as local public health agencies who can take action to reduce mosquito-borne disease risks.
H-MIP researchers combine the citizen science data from Mosquito Alert with information on human mobility, socio-demographic patterns, and molecular analysis of mosquito blood meals to inform models and gain a fuller understanding of human-mosquito biting networks and help guide public health decision-making.
Project: H-MIP Human-Mosquito Interaction Project - Host-vector networks, mobility, and the socio-ecological context of mosquito-borne disease
Researcher: John Palmer
Host Institution: Pompeu Fabra University - Spain
ERC funding: Starting Grant 2019
Project website: H-MIP / Mosquito Alert
Carney RM et al. (2022), Integrating global citizen science platforms to enable next-generation surveillance of invasive and vector mosquitoes, Insect 13: 675, DOI: 10.3390/insects13080675
Južnič-Zonta Z et al. (2022) Mosquito Alert: levering citizen science to create a GBIF mosquito occurrence dataset. Gigabyte, 10.46471/gigabyte.54
Palmer JRB et al. (2017) Citizen science provides a reliable and scalable tool to track disease-carrying mosquitoes, Nature Communications 8:916, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-00914-9
Inventing instruments that interact, learn and evolve with the performer
The project investigates the role of artificial intelligence in new musical instruments. Its approach is to collaborate with researchers, artists and the public to know how creative AI alter our relationship with technology, social interaction and knowledge production.
The team publish their software and hardware design as open source, run regular workshops, maintain social media outlets, and manage an active Discord server. Workshops typically lead to public concerts where they seek to engage with audiences as part of the methodology. In their Friday open lab sessions, the general public and students from the city’s universities come and present their work, experience the work, and generally participate in the thinking of the project.
“Open Labs are a place where anybody can get peer critique on their projects, or simply join in for weekly public discussions. Workshops are held in a similar fashion: everybody’s knowledge is valued, and collective practice and collaboration allows participants to build solid foundations from where to keep learning.”
Project: INTENT - Intelligent Instruments: Understanding 21st-Century AI Through Creative Music Technologies
Researcher: Thor Magnusson
Host Institution: Iceland University of the Arts - Iceland
ERC funding: Consolidator Grant 2020
Project website: Intelligent Instruments Lab
Working with Indigenous peoples and local communities for climate change
The LICCI project aims to bring indigenous and local knowledge to climate change research. The team has developed OpenTEK, a citizen science web-platform aiming at the collective documentation and sharing of local indicators of climate change impacts. The LICCI team is dedicated to creating a community of practice, including researchers, practitioners, Indigenous peoples and local communities, and the general public, interested in monitoring climate change impacts on local social-ecological systems.
Through a PoC grant, the team created also the LICCI Observation Network/LICCION. It has developed differentiated open-source platforms (Oblo) with local communities, so they can geolocalise observations of culturally relevant indicators of climate change impacts. Platforms were developed through participatory design workshops with over 80 community members representing seven Indigenous and ethnic peoples across Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam.
Project: LICCI - Local Indicators of Climate Change Impacts. The Contribution of Local Knowledge to Climate Change Research / ICCION - Indigenous Climate Change Impacts Observation Network
Researcher: Victoria Reyes-GarcÍa
Host Institution: Autonomous University of Barcelona - Spain
ERC funding: Consolidator Grant 2017 + Proof of Concept 2019
Project website: LICCI
Benyei P et al. (nd), Challenges, Strategies and Impacts of doing Citizen Science with Marginalised and Indigenous Communities: Towards a Toolkit for working in non-‘WEIRD’ contexts, Citizen Science: Theory and practice (accepted)
Citizen scientists protecting your privacy
The CSI-COP project provides a public service in raising awareness of the extent of online tracking. This is achieved by informally educating the general public through a free resource 'Your Right to Privacy Online' (MOOC). The MOOC has been delivered in half-day workshops across Europe and in Israel and is available in thirteen languages
Engaged citizen scientists are investigating beneath websites to uncover what third-party tracking cookies are embedded in the pages they visit. They are also exploring default permissions in the apps on their mobile devices to find what functions apps have access to, for example, to personal contacts, photos, messages, etc.
“When I am thinking about the current situation in my homeland, Iran, and how selling data to the government can negatively affect human rights, I start to understand the importance of data privacy.”
(PhD student & volunteer citizen scientist)
Project: CSI-COP - Citizen Scientists Investigating Cookies and App GDPR compliance
Coordinator: Coventry University - United Kingdom
EC funding: H2020-SwafS-2019-1
Project website: CSI-COP
Youth citizen social science to improve social inclusion
Increasing social inclusion for young people is one of Europe’s most pressing challenges. YouCount aims to address this challenge through Youth Citizen Social Science. Ten different cases are being set up across nine European countries, each focusing on a local challenge related to social inclusion for young people. Every case team consists of professional researchers and young citizen scientists between 14 and 30 years.
During 2022 and 2023, new knowledge and innovations on social inclusion for young people will be co-created – within and across cases. This involves training for young citizen scientists, living labs, an evaluation study, an app and dialogue forums to reach out to other youths and stakeholders.
“Because we are young, we look at the world differently. We can generate different knowledge than the professional researcher because we are sitting on the benches drinking beer with the local community.”
(Citizen scientist from high school, Denmark)
Project: YouCount - Empowering youth and cocreating social innovations and policy-making through youth-focused citizen social science
Coordinator: Oslo Metropolitan University - Norway
EC funding: H2020-SwafS-2020-1
Project website: YouCount
How citizens in a vulnerable situation can act as Co-Researchers
CoAct understands Citizen Social Science (CSS) as participatory research co-designed and directly driven by citizen groups sharing a social concern. CoAct has brought together and further developed methods to give citizen groups an equal ‘seat at the table’ through active participation in research, from the design to the interpretation of the results and their transformation into concrete actions.
Citizens act as Co-Researchers and are recognised as in-the-field competent experts. Multi-stakeholder collaborations have formed Knowledge Coalitions to enable the provision of socially-robust scientific knowledge to promote social change. Finally, the results have been collectively interpreted and transformed into concrete actions proposals.
CoAct has addressed a variety of social concerns: Mental Health Care (Barcelona), Youth Employment (Vienna), Environmental Justice (Buenos Aires) and Gender Equality (Germany, Bulgaria and Greece). More than 200 people, with lived experiences in these social issues, were involved in all phases of the research as Co-Researchers.
Project: CoAct - Co-designing Citizen Social Science for Collective Action
Coordinator: Universitat de Barcelona - Spain
EC funding: H2020-SwafS-2019-1
Project website: CoAct
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- Participatory evaluation in citizen science. Citizen Science Association Conference 2021 (CitSciVirtual 2021). Zenodo, https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4820791
- Thomas S, Scheller D & Schröder S (2021) Co-creation in citizen social science: the research forum as a methodological foundation for communication and participation. Humanit Soc Sci Commun 8, 244, https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-021-00902-x