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Session 7F: Sticking with it for the long haul: Building community and maintaining long-term engagement in citizen science (part III)

Holly Menninger and Caren Cooper
Fri, Feb 1, 4:00-5:00 pm, Room 8

Description: Many large-scale citizen science projects excel at generating public excitement about their work and engaging participants in data collection. Yet, increasingly project organizers aim for much more than a one-off data contribution by participants – we want to engage citizen scientists in the whole process of science, from hypothesis generation through analysis and development of next steps, including future projects. Unfortunately, the process of science can be slow, twisted and even arduous, with long lag times between initial participation and return of results. How do we keep participants interested and engaged during the interim? Can we build communities of interest around projects as a means for maintaining long-term engagement with our citizen scientists? We hope to draw diverse voices into this conversation, hearing from participants and organizers of other engaged online communities (#NASAsocial; Personal Genome Project; DIY, maker and gaming communities come to mind…)

- What are the hallmarks of an engaged community rallied around citizen science? Or do we just know it when we see it? (Useful to consider for evaluation of projects)
- How can we improve dialogue with citizen scientists? Are social media and blogs enough?
- What lessons can we learn from other science (and non-science!) organizations who’ve successfully engaged communities? (Think community groups, political campaigns)
- What tools do you use for building community and effectively fostering communication among members of your group?
- Grassroots or top-down? What’s the best way to facilitate community-building within citizen science organizations?
- What can we do in the interim (specific examples!), during the lag time between steps in the scientific process, to sustain participant interest?

Hashtag: #citsci

Session Prep:
A little homework for you to prep for our session - Reflect on your own experiences participating in (or coordinating) a citizen science project:

- Did you feel a sense of community emerge via your involvement? How so?
- Did you have social motivations for participating?
- How engaged were you with other participants? With project leaders?
- How long did you stay involved in the citizen science project?

Peruse some examples of "community" in citizen science:
Galaxy Zoo Forum:
CoCoRaHS Groups:
Wild Life of Our Homes Participant Show & Tell:
SciStarter blog:
Citizen Science Community Forum:
Fairbanks Museum Community of Observers:​
Belly Button Biodiversity:

Notes & Follow-up from the Session: