Library Element Article

Contours of citizen science: a vignette study

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 17 September 2021

Haklay Muki, Fraisl Dilek, Greshake Tzovaras Bastian, Hecker Susanne, Gold Margaret, Hager Gerid, Ceccaroni Luigi, Kieslinger Barbara, Wehn Uta, Woods Sasha, Nold Christian, Balázs Bálint, Mazzonetto Marzia, Ruefenacht Simone, Shanley Lea A., Wagenknecht Katherin, Motion Alice, Sforzi Andrea, Riemenschneider Dorte, Dorler Daniel, Heigl Florian, Schaefer Teresa, Lindner Ariel, Weißpflug Maike, Mačiulienė Monika and Vohland Katrin 2021. Contours of citizen science: a vignette study. R. Soc. open sci.8202108202108

Citizen science has expanded rapidly over the past decades. Yet, defining citizen science and its boundaries remained a challenge, and this is reflected in the literature—for example in the proliferation of typologies and definitions. There is a need for identifying areas of agreement and disagreement within the citizen science practitioners community on what should be considered as citizen science activity.

This paper describes the development and results of a survey that examined this issue, through the use of vignettes—short case descriptions that describe an activity, while asking the respondents to rate the activity on a scale from ‘not citizen science’ (0%) to ‘citizen science’ (100%). The survey included 50 vignettes, of which five were developed as clear cases of not-citizen science activities, five as widely accepted citizen science activities and the others addressing 10 factors and 61 sub-factors that can lead to controversy about an activity. The survey has attracted 333 respondents, who provided over 5100 ratings.

The analysis demonstrates the plurality of understanding of what citizen science is and calls for an open understanding of what activities are included in the field.


For better understanding the context and motivations of the study, you can read this post by Muki Haklay

Here you’ll find the collection of 50 vignettes. They are organised in such a way that 1-40 are matching different factors that make them controversial in some form or another, 40-45 designed to be non-controversial citizen science, while 46-50 designed to be non-controversial not citizen science (as explained by Muki Haklay in his post it didn’t work exactly this way...). The vignettes have already been proven to be very useful in teaching and discussing citizen science and they were used in Austria, Germany, and Israel. They are now free to use, translate, and do whatever you want with them. The collection could be increased to about 70, to include other cases of citizen science. 

You can also access the full results of the survey, as they came in. See Mukí´s explanations for further details on how to use and cite properly


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