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Finding the benefits of citizen science

In the CitSciBio newsletter each month you can find our most recent additions to the “library,” where we deliver a sampling of free, publicly accessible scholarly papers from our Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Collection, made possible through the National Library of Medicine. The collection has recently been updated to include just under 2,000 articles (at the time of posting) pertaining to citizen science, crowdsourcing, community-based participatory research, virtual reality, mobile health, wearables, community engaged research, participatory action research, amongst many, many other related topics.



Recently, researcher Andrew Su asked citizen science twitter where the benefits of citizen science could be found in publications; specifically, the non-scientific benefits of citizen science. Even more specifically, things like education, scientific literacy, and community engagement. It got me thinking – where are they? After a bit of quick searching, I put together a shortlist of articles available in PMC, as well as some from Google Scholar.

This brings me to my next point—so many non-science aspects of citizen science papers, typically non-scientific benefits, get left out of academic papers, or are not the central focus, making them a bit challenging to find. It’s unfortunate, as these qualitative findings are the very things that keep volunteers, participants, and partners coming back to science, so understanding them and sharing them are very important.

The Citizen Science Association runs an open-access journal, Citizen Science: Theory and Practice which is chock-full of edifying reads from the world of citizen science and crowdsourcing. I did a quick search on just the word “benefits” and came up five hits from this new(ish) journal. So the work is out there; it just may take more digging to find it. We at CitSciBio will keep keeping an eye out for articles that highlight these aspects, and including them in our collection, highlighting them in our newsletters as often as we can.

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