Communication in Citizen Science: A practical guide to communication and engagement in citizen science
Citizen science is a vast field. It covers the spectrum of research approaches and offers different methods for engaging volunteers with research in a variety of ways. Common to every citizen science project is a need to communicate with the public effectively. This to recruit and retain citizen scientists, but equally to inform, train and thank them, in the proper manner, when the project ends. It was this need which prompted Scivil, the Flemish Knowledge Centre for Citizen Science, to set up the working group on communication and participation. The working group decided to document its communication expertise in this guide for anyone who plans to initiate a citizen science project.In June 2019 the working group surveyed the initiators of citizen science projects in Flanders. We asked them what their projects already had in the way of communication expertise, and in which areas they were still short of knowledge.The results taught us that most projects do well when it comes to recruiting citizen scientists (‘ordinary’ people with no prior knowledge of the subject, who volunteer for citizen science projects). But the challenge, it seems, is to retain them over a longer period of time. Nor is it always a straightforward matter to engage the right, or more diverse, target audiences.In this guide we provide the building blocks to write up a communication plan for your project, and we include exercises on how to identify a target audience and reach out to schools. We also offer a set of tactics and tools, to secure the initial and continued participation of your citizen scientists. Finally, with our practical tips, you can be-gin the job of defining your communication plan and choosing the right tactics for effective communication in citizen science. This guide is for anyone who finds themselves communicating and engaging with citizen scientists. The content of the guide is based on studies of citizen participation and the real-life experience of science communicators. Use it as a source of inspiration, and draw on any of the ideas that suit your needs. And, above all, remember your enthusiasm is infectious!
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