WTimpact – Citizen Science as a tool for knowledge transfer

In this interdisciplinary project we investigate which factors influence learning and the emotional attitude of participants in Citizen Science projects. We want to find out whether Citizen Science can be used as a tool for knowledge transfer and which success factors are important for this.

Project details
Duration: 09/2017 - 08/2020
Third-party funded: yes
Involved Department(s): Science Management, Dept Evolutionary Ecology, Dept Ecological Dynamics
Leibniz-IZW Project Leader(s): Miriam Brandt (Science Management)
Leibniz-IZW Project Team: Anke Schumann (Science Management), Daniel Lewanzik, Julia Lorenz, Sylvia Ortmann, Christian Voigt (all: Dept Evolutionary Ecology), Konstantin Börner, Robert Hagen, Sophia Kimmig, Stephanie Kramer-Schadt (all: Dept Ecological Dynamics), Heribert Hofer (Director)
Consortium Partner(s): Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS), Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN), Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien (IWM)
Current Funding Organisation: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Research Foci:
Understanding traits and evolutionary adaptations
Understanding the environmental context
Developing theories, methods, and tools

Citizen Science (CS) is gaining ground in Germany. The claim is that CS projects bring benefits to both science and participants. Through their participation, citizens are supposed to learn something, build an emotional connection to the topic and better understand the scientific process. However, not many studies have so far investigated whether all these positive effects on the participants actually exist. In this project we are therefore working together with colleagues from the psychology and educational research.

The Leibniz-IZW is conducting two subprojects. The CS studies "Wildlife researchers in Berlin" and "Bat researchers in Berlin" deal with the assessment of bats and terrestrial mammals. Participants are equipped with the necessary technology (wildlife cameras and bat detectors) to document the occurrence of wildlife in the city. After data recording, the participants upload the camera images or bat calls to the internet platform of the project. Afterwards, they can not only participate in the evaluation of the collected data, but also graphically display them and interpret them with the help of statistical tests. In this way they gain science-based insights into the distribution and behaviour of wild animals in Berlin. Furthermore, the participants have the opportunity to discuss their results in the forum. The participation of citizens enables us to record wildlife in Berlin on an unprecedented scale. The data allow us to draw conclusions about how wild animals use urban habitats and which landscape structures influence their distribution.

Using these examples, our project partners are investigating which factors influence learning outcomes and emotional attitudes of participants in CS projects. We want to find out whether CS is a good tool for knowledge transfer and how a project should be designed to be of high benefit to participants.