We have identified six main themes for this year’s conference.

Click on each for more complete descriptions.

Suggestions of alternate themes for presentations are also welcome.

CS 2015 Conference Themes

1. Tackling grand challenges and everyday problems with citizen science
Some of our most significant scientific and social challenges cannot be addressed without extensive data and massive public engagement. Citizen science is a vehicle to provide these resources and address these challenges. How can citizen science contribute to documenting biological responses to conservation challenges (e.g., climate change, early detection and response to invasive species, ground-truthing satellite data), advancing public health, increasing scientific literacy, analyzing astronomical phenomena, or fostering international collaboration and cross-disciplinary solutions? Return to top.

2. Broadening engagement to foster diversity and inclusion
As a broad field, inclusive of a variety of philosophies and approaches to participatory science, citizen science comprises a diversity of: (1) disciplines (e.g., public health, ecology, astronomy, social justice); (2) research traditions (e.g., traditional ecological knowledge, traditional citizen science, water-quality monitoring, participatory rural research); (3) project models/approaches (e.g., contributory, collaborative, co-created); and (4) roles (e.g., policy makers, project coordinators, researchers, community volunteers).  Yet research shows that many groups are under-represented in these efforts.

How can citizen science increase inclusion and foster a greater diversity of participants, so that access to and benefits of projects can be spread more broadly? Return to top.

3. Making education and lifelong-learning connections  
How are citizen science projects increasing their educational outcomes and impacts for participants and communities? How are they providing resources for educators – in both formal and informal contexts – to engage learners of all ages (e.g., K-12, higher education, lifelong learners) effectively? Return to top.

4. Digital opportunities and challenges in citizen science
What are best practices for data management—including metadata, archiving, digitization, vertical integration of data, ease of use, accessibility (i.e. open source), ensuring privacy?

What are best practices for responsible  data design, data collection, visualization, and interpretation? What tools help with visualization and storytelling? How can these promote broad, as well as deep, engagement?

How are platforms or templates assisting in launching new projects? And what are emerging trends and innovations in “gamification,” badging, human-computer interactions, hardware/sensor, and other tools and apps?

What are the synergies between the Open Science movement and citizen science efforts?  Is there more to be done to raise awareness of all these efforts? Return to top.

5. Research on and evaluation of the citizen science experience
What have we learned regarding participant motivation, skill development, experiences, and outcomes?

Using findings from both research and evaluation, we can build our body of knowledge on why participants engage in citizen science, what skills they develop (or need training to develop), what the experience means to them and what are the perceived outcomes for the individual as well as the community. In addition to evaluation and research results, topics could also examine dynamics of group organization, methodological issues in studying these populations, ethical considerations, challenges in studying long-term impacts. What are the compelling research questions that need further exploration to maximize meaning and satisfaction for the volunteer? What are the questions that are most pressing to practitioners that would help to inform their practice? Return to top.

6. Best practices for designing, implementing, and managing citizen science projects and programs
While context and content can vary widely across citizen science projects, what are the key features to consider in design and implementation? How do successful projects integrate protocols that look to quality assurance and quality control of data gathered? How does a project designer/manager work to balance scientific and educational goals? What are some of the tried and tested methods for recruitment, retention, and recognition of citizen science volunteers, and how does the burgeoning badge system fit into the current picture? How do institutions that administer multiple projects manage their programs at large, how do projects get chosen or developed, how do partnerships get formed, and how do citizen science goals get integrated cross-departmentally? What are methods for evaluating outcomes of citizen science projects, and what resources exist to do so? Return to top.