Citizen Science Masterclass explores ways public can be part of research

Members of staff joined Imperial’s first ever Citizen Science Masterclass with guest speakers from Zooniverse, nQuire and OPAL.

On Tuesday 15 September, The Societal Engagement team ran Imperial’s first Masterclass in Citizen Science. The training session was an opportunity for researchers at the College to learn about citizen science as an approach to engaging the public with research.

What is Citizen Science?

Hosted by Liz Danner and James Romero of the Public Engagement team, the session opened with an introduction to citizen science followed by a series of examples.

“[It’s about] how we can bring the general public into the conversation to either formulate research questions or help us go out and find information.” Liz Danner Public Engagement team

Danner explained that citizen science can take on many forms: the public might be forming research questions, they might be gathering data or they might be analysing it – it’s all citizen science.

Danner drew on examples including Imperial’s Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) project. OPAL saw over one million members of the public submit information to researchers about their local environments, supplying valuable data on environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity and climate change. The Parenting Science Gang was another example with an Imperial link that illustrated the breadth of possibilities within citizen science. Described as “radically citizen-led”, this project entailed a group of parents who came together on Facebook with a range of parenting questions that they wanted to answer through science. Questions related to reusable nappies, the role of healthcare professionals in supporting breastfeeding and much more. The project is now funded by Wellcome.

Tips from an expert panel

The expert panel included:

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