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Who wants to be a citizen scientist? Identifying the potential of citizen science and target segments in Switzerland


Füchslin, Tobias; Schäfer, Mike S; Metag, Julia (2019). Who wants to be a citizen scientist? Identifying the potential of citizen science and target segments in Switzerland. Public Understanding of Science, 28(6):652-668.

Abstract

Driven by the proliferation of digital media, citizen science – the involvement of non-scientists in scientific research – represents one of the most important recent developments in science communication as it brings science and the public closer together. So far, however, citizen science projects have mostly attracted people that are highly educated, mostly male and already have very positive attitudes towards science. Based on nationally representative survey data (N = 1051), our study explores the potential of citizen science in Switzerland. Using regression analysis, we show that attitudes towards science are significant antecedents of respondents’ interest in participating in citizen science – but that gender and education are not. In addition, latent class analysis identifies five segments, representing over one-third of the Swiss population, who are interested in citizen science and could potentially be engaged: ‘Free-Timers’, ‘Senior Sciencephiles’, ‘Young Sciencephiles’, ‘Intrigued Adolescents’ and ‘Fully Employed Parents’. Additional description suggests that previously overlooked segments are best addressed online via YouTube or offline in zoos or botanical gardens. Overall, our analysis suggests that citizen science’s potential is far higher than previous projects were able to realize.

Abstract

Driven by the proliferation of digital media, citizen science – the involvement of non-scientists in scientific research – represents one of the most important recent developments in science communication as it brings science and the public closer together. So far, however, citizen science projects have mostly attracted people that are highly educated, mostly male and already have very positive attitudes towards science. Based on nationally representative survey data (N = 1051), our study explores the potential of citizen science in Switzerland. Using regression analysis, we show that attitudes towards science are significant antecedents of respondents’ interest in participating in citizen science – but that gender and education are not. In addition, latent class analysis identifies five segments, representing over one-third of the Swiss population, who are interested in citizen science and could potentially be engaged: ‘Free-Timers’, ‘Senior Sciencephiles’, ‘Young Sciencephiles’, ‘Intrigued Adolescents’ and ‘Fully Employed Parents’. Additional description suggests that previously overlooked segments are best addressed online via YouTube or offline in zoos or botanical gardens. Overall, our analysis suggests that citizen science’s potential is far higher than previous projects were able to realize.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Uncontrolled Keywords:Citizen science, science attitudes and perceptions, science communication, survey, Switzerland
Language:English
Date:6 June 2019
Deposited On:20 Aug 2019 12:38
Last Modified:17 Sep 2019 20:29
Publisher:Sage Publications Ltd.
ISSN:0963-6625
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0963662519852020

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