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Title: Designing a Platform for Ethical Citizen Science: A Case Study of CitSci.org
Involving the public in scientific discovery offers opportunities for engagement, learning, participation, and action. Since its launch in 2007, the CitSci.org platform has supported hundreds of community-driven citizen science projects involving thousands of participants who have generated close to a million scientific measurements around the world. Members using CitSci.org follow their curiosities and concerns to develop, lead, or simply participate in research projects. While professional scientists are trained to make ethical determinations related to the collection of, access to, and use of information, citizen scientists and practitioners may be less aware of such issues and more likely to become involved in ethical dilemmas. In this era of big and open data, where data sharing is encouraged and open science is promoted, privacy and openness considerations can often be overlooked. Platforms that support the collection, use, and sharing of data and personal information need to consider their responsibility to protect the rights to and ownership of data, the provision of protection options for data and members, and at the same time provide options for openness. This requires critically considering both intended and unintended consequences of the use of platforms, data, and volunteer information. Here, we use our journey developing CitSci.org to more » argue that incorporating customization into platforms through flexible design options for project managers shifts the decision-making from top-down to bottom-up and allows project design to be more responsive to goals. To protect both people and data, we developed—and continue to improve—options that support various levels of “open” and “closed” access permissions for data and membership participation. These options support diverse governance styles that are responsive to data uses, traditional and indigenous knowledge sensitivities, intellectual property rights, personally identifiable information concerns, volunteer preferences, and sensitive data protections. We present a typology for citizen science openness choices, their ethical considerations, and strategies that we are actively putting into practice to expand privacy options and governance models based on the unique needs of individual projects using our platform. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1550463
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10097857
Journal Name:
Citizen science
Volume:
4
Issue:
1
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article 14
ISSN:
2057-4991
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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