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Commons Lab releases 2 new reports on key aspects of Citizen Science

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Posted February 10, 2015

Citizen Science is a rapidly growing set of techniques that harness the power of volunteers to assist and support a wide range of scientific research. But for citizen science to continue to grow – and be used in policymaking – practitioners need to consider key ethical, legal and social implications of these projects.

The Commons Lab at the Wilson Center is releasing two new reports today that address different challenges facing citizen science, one examining the policy implications of a range of successful citizen science projects in Europe and the other exploring potential legal issues surrounding intellectual property (IP).

The first report, Citizen Science and Policy: A European Perspective, written by Dr. Muki Haklay of University College London, examines European citizen science projects to understand how they support or influence public policy (and how policy can support or constrain citizen science). The report includes suggestions for how projects can be better structured to support decision making and meet policy goals–for example, through strategic partnerships and by developing guidelines to facilitate the use of citizen science data. The report can be downloaded here.

The second report, Typology of Citizen Science Projects from an Intellectual Property Perspective: Invention and Authorship between Researchers and Participants, written by Dr. Teresa Scassa and doctoral candidate Haewon Chung of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, analyzes various types of citizen science activities to determine whether they raise legal questions about IP ownership. The report includes a typology comparing the IP implications of different types of citizen science projects, from transcribing or gathering data to assisting with problem solving. The report can be downloaded here.

In addition to the citizen science and crowdsourcing communities, these reports may also be of use to government agencies looking to launch their own projects using these novel techniques. Hardcopies of the reports will be available at the inaugural conference of the Citizen Science Association, which begins Feb. 11, 2015 at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, CA.

Source: Wilson Center

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