Inclusion in citizen science: The conundrum of rebranding

Created Oct. 26, 2021, 12:21 a.m.
Updated Oct. 26, 2021, 12:21 a.m.

As the scientific community, like society more broadly, reckons with longstanding challenges around accessibility, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, we would be wise to pay attention to issues and lessons emerging in debates around citizen science. When practitioners first placed the modifier “citizen” on science, they intended to signify an inclusive variant within the scientific enterprise that enables those without formal scientific credentials to engage in authoritative knowledge production. Given that participants are overwhelmingly white adults, above median income, with a college degree, it is clear that citizen science is typically not truly an egalitarian variant of science, open and available to all members of society, particularly those underrepresented in the scientific enterprise. Some question whether the term “citizen” itself is a barrier to inclusion, with many organizations rebranding their programs as “community science.” In this article, the authors explore what the field, and the public it serves, might gain or lose by replacing this term. Swapping the terms is not a benign action, but the authors believe that rather than focusing on name changes, it would be more fruitful to work for increasing inclusion within the field of citizen science, in order to enable all people to feel that the identity they hold belongs and authentically influences the culture, values, and future of the field.

Publish information

Authors: M Haklay; D Cavalier; C B Cooper; C L Hawn; L R Larson; J K Parrish; G Bowser; R R Dunn; K K Gupta; N O Jelks; V A Johnson; M Katti; Z Leggett; O R Wilson; S Wilson;
Publisher:American Association for the Advancement of Science
Year of publication: 2021
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