Deliberate design must include audience research: key considerations for marine citizen science projects in Australia
Martin, V and Lloyd, D and Pecl, GT and Christidis, L, Deliberate design must include audience research: key considerations for marine citizen science projects in Australia, Book of Abstracts, 2015 Australian Citizen Science Conference, 23-24 July 2015, Canberra, Australia, pp. 6. (2015) [Conference Extract]
There is no citizen science without an engaged public. Yet little, if any, research has been done to determine how much public interest there is to participate. With increasing resources and effort going into citizen science projects, it is important to first understand if, why and under what circumstances or conditions the public want to become involved. This paper reports on an Australia-wide survey of 1145 marine users about their interest in marine citizen science. Using theories from social psychology and science communication, the online survey explored the interests, drivers and barriers for public participation in marine research. The results reveal very high interest, although differences between groups exist, and over 80% willing to volunteer several days (or more) a year to assist research. The type of research activities people were most interested in helping were collecting data, communicating findings, and analysing findings although between-group differences were found. Some of the perceived benefits were increasing my own knowledge, and increasing scientific knowledge. Other important considerations for project leaders include the ease of use of websites and apps, feedback from scientists, and which organisation the data is being collected by. Audience research such as this is usually overlooked but is an essential first step for the deliberate design of projects to enhance their effectiveness and engage broader audiences. By better understanding the interests of the target audience, along with their communication needs and preferences, citizen science planners will be able to tailor projects which result in greater impact for their investment.
citizen science, public participation, science engagement