Implementing Citizen Science Support Hub

A citizen science support hub provides support services to researchers and other relevant stakeholders. Its precise tasks depend on the institution it is founded in, the needs of those to whom it is targeted, as well as the expertise of people employed in the hub. The hub can be a separate unit with its own staff or consist of people scattered in different structural units who still work together for a common goal. What is expected, though, is promoting and facilitating citizen science activities in the governing institution and providing reliable source of support and services. Founding the hub may start from simple steps like collecting information about current citizen science projects and mediating relevant news and volunteering options. However, a hub can be so much more when it is fully backed by your institution with funding and skilled staff.

To get inspiration and ideas how to start with citizen science hub, we recommend watching the webinar “Citizen Science – An Opportunity for Libraries and Societal Actors”. It speaks about citizen science hubs and centres that have been opened and the libraries’ role in them, outlining examples, services and recommendations.

The webinar “Citizen Science At Universities: Trends, Guidelines and Recommendations” introduces some citizen science hubs working at university libraries and also the single Point of Contact (BESPOC) model.

A compact and easy-to-follow overview of the BESPOC model is given in this video created by LibOCS project partner, VMU Library.

A comprehensive 45 minutes overview of BESPOC model is given by it’s advocator in the video Introducing BESPOC: Supporting Citizen Science in the University.

One of the citizen science hub tasks is to support researchers in the project creating process, aiding in getting funding, and preparing templates and instructions to the participants. All these actions are framed with questions about ethics. In the article “Ethics Framework and Guidelines for Participatory Processes in the Activities of Research Funding Organizations” challenges and potential solutions are revealed that may prove valuable for future participatory processes. The framework addresses the contexts, resources, and needs that affect decisions on how to conduct participatory processes in an ethical manner. It also provides guidance to ensure stakeholder participation follows the values of fairness, transparency, equality, and privacy.

A citizen science hub can act as community builder, be a gateway to society, and communicate science data between researchers and public. The course “IsraelX, Technion: Science Communication” explains the importance of science communication and teaches fundamental skills for mastering scientific communication. The “Guide to using Social Media in Citizen Science Projects” gives 20 practical tips using social media channels to communicate with volunteers and offers 7 case studies of successful projects.

Policy and development plans are part of hub’s advocacy actions. European Commissions’ paper “Mutual Learning Exercise on Citizen Science Initiatives – Policy and Practice…” creates a path to successful implementation of a citizen science project and is written to support Member States to implement good practices on citizen science and evaluate their impact.

Furthermore, a hub can be part of process adding citizen science theory as part of curricula. The toolkit “Teaching science through citizen science” is designed to help educators integrate citizen science projects into classroom curricula or afterschool programming. It contains resources — including lessons, readings, and worksheets to help communicate the value of citizen science to students and help them cultivate a sense of empowerment and impact when performing science investigations. In higher education, this set of “Recommendations on integrating OS (and CS) in HE curricula” aims to help readers integrate open science activities into education programmes and normalise the process of institution development. It provides guidance on course design considerations, examples, etc. In addition concrete lesson plans, Framework for Open and Reproducible Research Training offers evidence-based, high-quality lesson plans and activities available to lecturers.