Report: How Higher Education Institutions Can Leverage Open & Citizen Science

Report: How Higher Education Institutions Can Leverage Open & Citizen Science

The need of scientific knowledge in tackling pressing world issues such as climate change and social inclusion has come to the fore, as well as the role of citizens in engaging in action for more tangible measures to be adopted by policy makers.

It is believed that open science, especially through one of its components, citizen science, can play a key role in addressing society’s grand challenges, respond to diminishing societal trust in science, contribute to the creation of common goods and shared resources, and facilitate knowledge transfer between science and society to stimulate innovation.

Within this context, the INOS team attempted to outline the role Higher Education institutions (HEIs) play in open and citizen science, and to leverage their engagement in it. 

The INOS study Academia permeating society through Citizen Science: Use cases of engagement in Higher Education is the fruit of this collaborative work. The study replies to the following questions:

  • What kind of citizen science projects HEIs are involved in?
  • Which is the (untapped) potential presented for HEIs in citizen science
  • In what ways HEIs can cater to the needs for citizen participation in science for society?
  • How HEIs address open innovation and are responsive to  socio-digital advancements of crowdsourcing, produsage and to the knowledge commons in general?

Between September 2019 and January 2020 the INOS team collected citizen science projects (85 indicative cases) and further analyzed 20 of them (cf. list below) for the special interest they presented. Translating key messages of the study into actionable guidelines, the INOS publicationAcademia permeating society through Citizen Science: recommendations for Higher Education Institutions’’ comprises a set of suggestions aiming to encourage HEIs to adjust their citizen enhanced open science approach and practices and embrace new pools of resources and stakeholders. Moreover, it stimulates universities to sustainably connect with communities through a trustful and transparent collaboration framework which will further motivate citizens to take the lead in research that is directly relevant to them.

20 indicative citizen science projects

  1. Epidemium
  2. Aalborg University’s Megaprojects
  3. Collecting litter and data to combat plastic pollution in Denmark
  4. Tallinn University LIFE projects
  5. Ocean i3
  6. Project Discovery: Citizen science with Eve Online
  7. Citizen science activities organised by Tartu University Natural Science Museum
  8. #DataOnTheStreets Rally and the Better Budget Dataquest
  9. iScape Living Lab
  10. Mosquito Alert
  11. NASA’s GLOBE Observer
  12. Smartfin
  13. Europeana Transcribathon
  14. Flint Water Study
  15. Open Seventeen
  16. Open source electric vehicle
  17. DigiEduHack
  18. Climathon
  19. AirCitizen
  20. Citizen science in Helsinki’s Central Park