Our evaluation of UKRI-funded research projects seeks to better understand the value and scope of ‘citizen science’.

In 2019, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funded 28 Citizen Science Exploration Grant (CSEG) projects. The aim was to explore how diverse groups of people can participate with, and collaborate in, the research and innovation process. It was also an opportunity to test opportunities for building ‘citizen science’ methodologies.

Citizen science is an important and long-established form of participatory research that seeks to engage members of the public as active participants in the research process.

Today, the Institute for Community Studies publishes a report that looks at the UKRI-funded citizen science projects and draws recommendations for future research and funding design in this area.

Overall, the findings suggest that by involving citizens actively in research through citizen science there is the potential to:

  • establish and build meaningful relationships between researchers and wider society
  • stimulate ‘ripple effects’ that extend the impact of projects
  • integrate scientific and social themes
  • generate high-quality data and materials by involving citizens actively in research

The new UKRI Strategy, Transforming Tomorrow Together (2022-2027), describes UKRI’s aims of ‘breaking down barriers between research and innovation (R&I) and wider society’ and ‘involving a broader range of people in the design and delivery of R&I’. This new report demonstrates how citizen science can be a powerful tool to achieve these goals. We can see it’s not just about improving the outputs of specific projects but has important outcomes for learning and interaction between researchers and society. This work is further supported in the new UKRI Public Engagement strategy, which will launch in Autumn 2022.

– Tom Saunders, UKRI’s Head of Public Engagement

The Institute is now working with UKRI to embed learning from the CSEG call to support a set of five projects exploring citizen science across disciplines.

“The recommendations in this report offer practical and concrete considerations that will be useful for those designing and funding participatory research projects. At the Institute, we’ve been struck by the high calibre and significant value of research gathered through the citizen science projects. However, the most striking benefit has been the extensive ‘ripple effect’ of this method, as research approaches and findings were shared organically through citizen scientists’ formal and informal networks and friendship groups.”

– Richard Harries, Director of the Institute for Community Studies

Find out more about the report and UKRI and Institute’s work in this area at our online event, Hive minds: funding a more participatory future for citizen science, 21 September, 10am-12pm

Institute for Community Studies Posted on: 9 August 2022


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