Accessibility navigation


Initiating and continuing participation in citizen science for natural history

Everett, G. and Geoghegan, H. (2016) Initiating and continuing participation in citizen science for natural history. BMC Ecology, 16 (S1). 13. ISSN 1472-6785

[img]
Preview
Text (Open Access) - Published Version
· Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.

1MB
[img]
Preview
Text - Accepted Version
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.

449kB

It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1186/s12898-016-0062-3

Abstract/Summary

Background: Natural history has a long tradition in the UK, dating back to before Charles Darwin. Developing from a principally amateur pursuit, natural history continues to attract both amateur and professional involvement. Within the context of citizen science and public engagement, we examine the motivations behind citizen participation in the national survey activities of the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) programme, looking at: people’s experiences of the surveys as ‘project-baed leisure’; their motivations for taking part and barriers to continued participation; where they feature on our continuum of engagement; and whether participation in an OPAL survey facilitated their movement between categories along this continuum. The paper focuses on a less-expected but very significant outcome regarding the participation of already-engaged amateur naturalists in citizen science. Methods: The paper draws upon research conducted by the authors (a sociologist of science and a cultural geographer) over a five-year period, who followed the development and implementation of the OPAL surveys. The authors engaged with members of the public and natural history enthusiasts to understand how and why people engaged with the OPAL surveys, seeking to explore the motivations and barriers they faced to any further engagement with natural history. This involved carrying out interviews and focus groups with willing participants. Results: Our main findings relate to: first, how committed amateur naturalists (already-engaged) have also enjoyed contributing to OPAL and the need to respect and work with their interest to encourage broader and deeper involvement; and second, how new (previously-unengaged) and relatively new participants (casually-engaged) have gained confidence, renewed their interests, refocussed their activities and/or gained validation from participation in OPAL. Overall, we argue that engagement with and enthusiasm for the scientific process is a motivation shared by citizens who, prior to participating in the OPAL surveys, were previously-unengaged, casually-engaged or already-engaged in natural history activities. Conclusions: Citizen science has largely been written about by professional scientists for professional scientists interested in developing a project of their own. This study offers a qualitative example of how citizen science can be meaningful to participants beyond what might appear to be a public engagement data collection exercise.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:66764
Publisher:BioMed Central

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation