JRC report on data management in Citizen Science projects
In 2014 the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) organized the Citizen Science and Smart City Summit. At the summit, management of citizen-collected data was identified as a major barrier to the re-usability and integration of these contributions into other data-sharing infrastructures across borders.
In 2014 the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) organized the Citizen Science and Smart City Summit. At the summit, management of citizen-collected data was identified as a major barrier to the re-usability and integration of these contributions into other data-sharing infrastructures across borders. JRC followed-up on these findings with a survey with Citizen Science projects (executed in 2015), experiments on a repository for EU-funded Citizen Science projects and discussions with European and international Citizen Science communities. The report which has been produced summarises the outcomes of the survey.
Main points of the survey results:
– Sample bias as a high number of respondents were from the environmental field
– JRC is positively surprised that more than half of the responding projects are set-up to run at least for the medium-term (for a duration of more than four years)
– Projects outside the EU are leaning towards longer durations than those within
– Within the EU, projects with larger geographic extents seem to be set-up for longer periods
– Extensive use of persistent identifiers (needs to be investigated further – what projects understand as persistent, how to guarantee availability, approaches used)
– The need to promote discoverability of data sets by both mainstream search engines and more specialized catalogues (JRC notes that it might be worth investigating best practices depending on the kind of data gathered by the various activities)
– Projects use existing technologies for data access (note: little was asked about legal or ethical implications of data sharing)
– A need for further awareness-raising of data-related issues and a need to promote best practices to potentially help data be more re-usable
– Strong positive relation to data management plans (room for improvement and experience-sharing)
Replies to the question about data access reveal a clear need for action. Almost 60% of the participating projects have the intention to provide access to the results beyond the end of the project, whereas JRC is losing the results of many others. While this might not appear as an issue for a particular project, the community risks losing the ‘long tail’ of Citizen Science data that could be the basis for new (also longitudinal) research. Already the opportunity to reflect upon the ‘early days’ of technology-supported Citizen Science and its evolution requests a solution.
Ultimately, the above interpretations suggest public access to highly documented information, also beyond the lifetime of a project. This raises two important questions: who has the mandate to do this and which donors are willing to support such a long-term commitment?