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Citizen science and community‐based rain monitoring initiatives: an interdisciplinary approach across sociology and water science

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Why do people engage in citizen science projects? The aim of this contribution is to explore the social mechanisms that push nonexperts (i.e., citizens) to invest energy, time, and (sometimes) money in collaborative initiatives on the ground of scientific research. Some relevant examples from the domain of community‐based rain measuring are scrutinized, merging the views of a water scientist and a social scientist. After briefly discussing the limits of outdated approaches to science‐technology‐society issues, social identity theory and new media mechanisms are analyzed as key variables to understand what is new in today's science coming across citizenship. A discussion on the importance of accounting for the uncertainty inherent with the observations coming from crowdsourcing initiatives, possibly the most challenging side effect of what we call Citizen Science 2.0, closes the paper. WIREs Water 2017, 4:e1200. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1200

This article is categorized under:

  • Science of Water > Hydrological Processes
  • Science of Water > Methods
  • Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented
Citizen science (CS) timeline: an infographic of the CS phases between 17th and 21st centuries.
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Each project listed in Table 1 is classified according to the social engagement mechanism adopted by the project proponent (x‐axis) and innovativeness level of the enabling technology (y‐axis).
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Ideal types of citizens engaging in science.
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From self‐interest to public engagement: a model of action. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2008 Ed. Il Mulino and Ref . Copyright 1982 Princeton University Press)
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Online public interest on citizen science (CS) in the period 2004–2015. Source: Google Trends.
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Scientific interest on citizen science (CS) measured as a number of publications containing the locution ‘citizen science’ in the period 1990–2015 (number of papers on the y‐axis; years on the x‐axis). Source: ISI Web of Science.
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