Citizen science and citizen engagement

AuthorDelaney, Niamh; Tornasi, Zeno; Warin, Colombe
2.1. Policy objectives
The ‘Integrating Society in Science and Innovation’ call of the initial SwafS 2014-
2015 work programme included topics on public outreach and multi-actor
engagement for scenario building. The 2016-2017 work programme saw three topics
focus specifically on the involvement of citizens (alongside other actors) in co-
producing research content.
In parallel, wider policy developments intensified efforts in this domain. In 2015,
former Commissioner Moedas identified three strategic priorities, described in Open
innovation, Open science, Open to the world (the th ree O’s strategy), which
proposed inter alia that ‘man y more actors will take part (in the research process) in
different ways and the traditional methods of organising and rewarding research will
also see many changes’21. One important dimension of open science is citizen
science, envisioned as being ‘linked with outreach activities, science education or
various forms of public engagement with science as a way to promote Responsible
Research and Innovation’. In 2016, the Council22 recognised citizen science as an
open science priority and in April 2018, the Open Science Policy Platform (OSPP)
included citizen science as one of eight Open Science ambitions.
Furthermore, partly in response to the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020, the SwafS
work programme 2018-2020 included a strategic orientat ion on ‘exploring and
supporting citizen science’, and d eveloped a portfoli o approach to work towards th is
The SwafS work programme 2018-2020 focuses on the meanings, mechanisms and
challenges facing citizen science from local to European and global levels, learning
from on-going experiences and innovative grassroots initiatives. In addition, the aim
is to explore how citizen science can act as a catalyst to develop scientific skills and
competences, act as a tool for informal and formal science education of young
people and adults, counteract perceived anti-intellectual attitudes in society, raise
the scientific literacy of European citizens, as well as promote social inclusion and
Citizen science is blooming across scientific disciplines. It has the potential to bring a
wide variety of benefits to researchers, citizens, policy makers and society and
across the research and innovation cycle. It can make science more socially relevant,
accelerate and enable production of new scientific knowledge, help policy makers
monitor regulatory implementation and compliance, increase public awareness about
science and ownership of policy making, and increase prevalence of evidence-based
policy making23. To this end, the European Commission aimed to support and
showcase excellent examples of citizen science across scientific disciplines
(presented in section 2.3.2).
At the same time, there are difficulties setting up citizen science initiatives in terms
of choosing the optimum methodologies; quality assurance and validation of the
outcomes; managing large numbers of volunteers for many months or even years
and keeping them motivated and responding to their questions. To this end, the
21 Commissioner Moedas' speech at the conference ‘A new start for Europe: Opening up to an ERA of Innovation’
22 Council conclusions on the transition towards an Open Science system
23 SwafS Work programme 2018-2020

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