What is Citizen Science?
Citizen Science is based on natural and social science methodologies. It involves members of the public in monitoring and scientific research. These projects can range from local to regional, and global scales, and participation can vary from data collection to other aspects of the scientific process, like the creation of research questions, data analysis, project evaluation, and reporting.
Involving members of the public in monitoring and scientific research has been expressed in a number of different ways. For simplicity we use the umbrella term Citizen Science, but encourage practitioners who identify with Community-Based Monitoring (CBM), Community Science, Public Participation in Scientific Research (PPSR), and other related endeavors to join. This Community of Practice will explore different aspects of working with the public in environmental monitoring and science that may be of interest to practitioners of a number of related fields.
In recent years there has been a growing effort to engage the public in science and environmental monitoring across Alberta. This interest in citizen science has resulted in a series of workshops and guiding documents to support the emerging community of practice.
The following resources highlight some of this work:
Using Citizen Science to Advance Environmental Research and Monitoring in Alberta
Recognizing the potential for citizen science to advance knowledge of environmental change, Alberta Environment and Parks together with the Miistakis Institute initiated a project in 2015 to understand the state of environmentally-oriented citizen science in Alberta. This project established a foundation for Alberta Environment and Parks to understand the state of citizen science in Alberta and demonstrate the value of citizen science in, and opportunities for supporting and advancing the development and implementation of an environmental science program.
The resulting report, Using Citizen Science to Advance Environmental Research and Monitoring in Alberta highlights several starting points to advance citizen science, most notably, the development of principles to guide good practice and appropriate application of citizen science as a legitimate means to support applied management and policy decisions.
Advancing Citizen Science in Alberta: Changing Perspectives, Breaking Barriers
This two-day workshop in 2018 was a gathering place to learn about best practices in the field of citizen science as well as identify priority actions to advance the practice in Alberta.
The workshop objectives were to:
Provide an opportunity for knowledge exchange and co-learning between practitioners, experts and resource managers on the value and benefits of place-based citizen science in understanding environmental change.
Highlight best practices in collection of credible, relevant environmental data and information produced through citizen science.
Assess needs for tools and methods to support collection of credible, relevant environmental data and information.
Citizen Science Principles of Good Practice
Alberta Environment and Parks and the Miistakis Institute, with guidance and input from citizen science practitioners and researchers, co-developed the Citizen Science Principles of Good Practice to support the growing field of citizen science in Alberta. The six Principles are intended to serve as a foundation for ongoing conversations and collaboration when using citizen science, and to address information and knowledge gaps across the province. The Principles provide practitioners, researchers, and decision makers guidance for designing, implementing, and evaluating citizen science initiatives.
The guiding document outlines three areas of focus to help advance citizen science in Alberta, one of which is establishing a citizen science community of practice as an opportunity to aid knowledge sharing, and to promote standards of practice and innovation throughout the field.
The Citizen Science Principles of Good Practice were released through Alberta’s Office of the Chief Scientist in 2020. The release was supporting by the Advancing Citizen Science in Alberta fact sheet.