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To have your citizen science cake and eat it? Delivering research and outreach through Open Air Laboratories (OPAL)

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Title: To have your citizen science cake and eat it? Delivering research and outreach through Open Air Laboratories (OPAL)
Authors: Lakeman-Fraser, P
Gosling, L
Moffat, AJ
West, SE
Fradera, R
Davies, L
Ayamba, MA
Van der Wal, R
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: The vast array of citizen science projects which have blossomed over the last decade span a spectrum of objectives from research to outreach. While some focus primarily on the collection of rigorous scientific data and others are positioned towards the public engagement end of the gradient, the majority of initiatives attempt to balance the two. Although meeting multiple aims can be seen as a win-win situation, it can also yield significant challenges as allocating resources to one element means that they may be diverted away from the other. Here we analyse one such programme which set out to find an effective equilibrium between these arguably polarised goals. Through the lens of the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) programme we explore the inherent trade-offs encountered under four indicators derived from an independent citizen science evaluation framework. Assimilating experience from the OPAL network we investigate practical approaches taken to tackle arising tensions.Working backwards from project delivery to design, we found the following elements to be important: ensuring outputs are fit for purpose, developing strong internal and external collaborations, building a sufficiently diverse partnership and considering target audiences. We combine these operational indicators with four pre-existing outcome indicators to create a model which can be used to shape the planning and delivery of a citizen science project.Our findings suggest that whether the proverb in the title rings true will largely depend on the identification of challenges along the way and the ability to address these conflicts throughout the citizen science project.
Issue Date: 22-Jul-2016
Date of Acceptance: 1-Jul-2016
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/38643
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12898-016-0065-0
ISSN: 1472-6785
Publisher: BioMed Central
Journal / Book Title: BMC Ecology
Volume: 16
Issue: Suppl 1
Copyright Statement: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Citizen science
Evaluation framework
Lessons learned
Public participation in scientific research
0602 Ecology
0603 Evolutionary Biology
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: 16
Appears in Collections:Centre for Environmental Policy
Faculty of Natural Sciences