Citizen science

Citizen Science (CS) refers to the active contribution and engagement of members of the general public (non-scientists or citizens who are normally not involved in the according research topic) in scientific research, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists. There are different levels of participation and engagement: from data collection to data analyses, evaluation and interpretation to the compilation of research questions and projects.

In 2011 we began involving citizens in our scientific projects and since then developed our CS activities into a strategic instrument for knowledge transfer. In collaboration with Swiss and Austrian partners (Association for Urban Nature Zurich [Verein Stadtnatur], University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna), we set up the website which collates information on wildlife in Berlin and offers members of the public opportunities to become involved in research projects. Currently, we run CS projects in which citizens collect mosquitoes and flies for analyses of invertebrate-derived DNA (iDNA; in collaboration with the Berlin Center for Genomics in Biodiversity Research) and study hedgehogs. Furthermore, the Leibniz-IZW is active in advancing the conceptual development of CS. We are part of the consortium that developed a Citizen Science strategy for Germany, as well as a COST Action (European Cooperation in Science & Technology) to promote CS in Europe. Miriam Brandt, head of the unit Science Management, is coordinator of the Leibniz Network Citizen Science, and we conduct joint research projects with education researchers and psychologists to investigate the effect of CS on project participants.