Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES) researcher Baiba Prūse is one of the 100 co-authors of the book “The Science of Citizen Science” that was published on January 12th, 2021. The book is a conclusion of four years of intensive exchange within a European research network on citizen science. It covers aspects, strengths and barriers that are relevant to fulfil the many expectations of citizen science.
Citizen science means that people who are not employed as scientists can participate in research. Many people get involved in citizen science projects to increase knowledge about animal and plant species, discover new galaxies, or verify information from remote sensing data in the field. Citizen scientists can be involved in several stages of the scientific process, from collecting data to being part of the entire process from beginning to end. Citizen Science is increasingly acknowledged by the political level. On the one hand, the scientific outcomes are appreciated, and on the other hand, the increase of scientific literacy as such is supported. Citizen Science accordingly plays a role in national education offensives and also in European research and innovation policy.
IES citizen science and ethnobotany researcher Ph.D. Baiba Prūse contributed to the development of the book’s chapter “Citizen Science in the Natural Sciences”. In this chapter researchers display insights into the origin of citizen science in the natural sciences and reflect on the intellectual history of the natural sciences in relation to citizen science today. They also contemplate the current scientific approaches and achievements of natural science projects, which are applying citizen science to address empirical and/or theoretical research, focusing on monitoring programmes. By presenting examples and case studies, Ph.D. B. Prūse and the co-authors focus on the key characteristics of the scientific inquiries being explored in the natural sciences through citizen science. Moreover, they discuss the consequences of engagement in scientific processes in relation to the future of natural scientists in a complex world.
In the book, scientists, practitioners, and representatives of several organizations have discussed various issues related to Citizen Science and published them in workshop reports, guidelines, and scientific publications. Topics included the quality of Citizen Science, which refers to both the data and the involvement of citizens; ontologies of Citizen Science, so that international platforms can better exchange and use synergies; and educational aspects as, for example, the trade-offs of teachers who would like to offer real-life research examples to their students but also have to follow their curricula. All this work was done as part of the COST (Cooperation in Science and Technology in Europe) Action, „Citizen Science to promote creativity, scientific literacy, and innovation throughout Europe".
Read more about the book “The Science of Citizen Science” here.
The Institute for Environmental Solutions sees a great potential in citizen science and it’s contribution to research. To solve complex problems of environment and consumption of natural resources, public engagement is crucial, therefore, the role and importance of citizen science is still growing all over the world. IES has already implemented several tasks and projects by involving citizen scientists. IES has organized ethnobotany research expeditions led by Ph.D. Baiba Prūse to research traditional knowledge of wild plants. IES has involved citizens in seed collection for development of experimental medicinal and aromatic plant gardens. Moreover, schools has been involved in lake and soil research, as well as waste management. Finally, as a part of the project "Opening the Doors of Science: Baltic-Nordic Cooperation for Citizen Science Development", IES has developed the review of Citizen Science in Latvia within the field of environment.
Read more about citizen science here.