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Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Disseminate Results: Reality Check




Producing peer-reviewed publications from rich data sets possible through citizen science.

Convincing peers in the scientific community of the merits of volunteer-based studies. The precedent exists... see references for over 50 scientific publications based on volunteer-collected data.

Informing a policy decision, passing legislation or changing regulations based on citizen science data.

Requires a certain kind of data and reporting which is different than traditional "science":
  • more timely
  • less certainty necessary
May be an ideal fit for some citizen science projects.

Communication between scientists and non-scientists can be fostered through citizen science partnerships.

Keeping this from becoming uni-directional ("top-down"). Helping scientists value input/feedback from volunteers regarding analyses and results. Supporting a forum for direct contact (e.g., social networks, listserves).

Using the data to highlight key findings to the public (participants and non-participants).

Make publications audience appropriate without being "dumbed-down".


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Dissention regarding project results/implications.

Open host institutions to the community, inviting groups they don't ordinarily engage with. Engaging with diverse stakeholders can build trust and go far towards project sustainability and community impact.

Writing for the public may not "count" in a scientist's publication record.

But it can have other benefits:
  • better communication with non-scientists
  • impact on policy
  • improved university/institution engagement and relations with the community
  • changing attitudes about valuing broader social impacts of professional science work beyond peer-reviewed publications
  • social accountability of science
  • good PR for scientist, for relevance and impact of scientific work

Having a message be heard... science is a tiny part of what competes for the public's attention every day.

Show how results directly affect people in their daily lives.

Avoiding "doom and gloom" and/or biophobia that can be associated with critical environmental issues.

Critical environmental issues can be appealing subject matter, demanding immediate scientific attention and capturing public interest. If action steps and outcomes are made available that people can take, and successes are highlighted, citizen science can be a positive outlet for addressing such issues that are often associated with negativity.

Do people really read newsletters?



Know of any opportunities for or challenges to this step?  Soon you will be able to share them through our discussion forum.


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Citizen science, volunteer monitoring, participatory action research... this site supports organizers of all initiatives where public participants are involved in scientific research.

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