Citizen science community responds to Nature editorial

*** Re-posted courtesy of the U.S.-based Citizen Science Association ***

An 18 August 2015 editorial in Nature incited vigorous commentary on the citizen science discussion e-list, given that the piece closed on a note of suspicion regarding volunteers’ motives and potential conflicts of interest. While the piece, entitled “Rise of the citizen scientist,” opens with positive attention to the growing contributions of citizen science, many expressed that citizen science was unfairly singled out with a critique that should be fairly leveled on all scientific endeavors.

This points to a troubling issue for the field – that the diligent and often cutting-edge work done by citizen science practitioners (volunteers and professionals alike) to ensure data integrity is not sufficiently understood or appreciated. This may be a call to action for CSA, along with the European Citizen Science Association and Australian Citizen Science Association, to help raise awareness of ways this concern is addressed – and impetus for all in this community to reveal and share the methods and procedures used to this end.

Inspired by these concerns, individual members and leaders from all three Associations jointly submitted a Letter to Nature in response. While not accepted for publication in the journal itself, the letter is now posted as a direct response to the article online – as are many other thoughtful comments from various viewpoints. The comment thread is still open.

For convenience, a PDF of the letter is also available for download here.

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