The Sciences

In True Citizen Science Fashion, Crowdsourcing a Bibliography

Citizen Science Salon iconCitizen Science SalonBy Ian VorsterFeb 2, 2015 5:00 PM


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Books on a library shelf (CC0 Public Domain)

Record of the first bibliography can be traced back to the Ancient Library of Alexandria. The former Macedonian general Ptolemy I Soter, who was a successor to Alexander the Great, founded the library. The library itself would go on to become a renowned center of scholarship. 

The website History of Information records that in approximately 200 BCE, Callimachus, the highly respected head of the library compiled a catalogue of its entire holdings. Called the Pinakes, which translates to tables or lists, he divided the authors into classes; arranged the authors in the classes or subdivisions alphabetically; added biographical information to the name of each author and listed titles of each authors work under their names etc.

With recent developments in citizen science the world over, a Pinakes for the field was inevitable.In a piece posted on the Extreme Citizen Science blog, Diana Mastracci writes that the team at Extreme Citizen Science, the UCL Interaction Center, and the University of Geneva, com Citizen Cyberlab,” says Cindy Regalado, a PhD candidate in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at the University College London, referring to piled a list of scholarly resources (journals articles, books, web pages, magazine articles, etc.) considered to be most important to the study of “citizen science, creativity, learning and education in citizen science, and the evaluation of citizen science projects.”

“It was originally conceived as an idea for our project EU-FP7 an initiative which is exploring technology enhanced creative learning in the field of citizen cyberscience. “We knew that a large group of researchers and practitioners coming together would draw from various sources, both external and their own, so a shareable repository of articles made sense—shareable not only with the project team, but as a valuable resource for anyone interested in citizen science,” she says. As part of the project with Cyberlab the group proposed publishing an online annotated bibliography of relevant literature from citizen science, creativity and education at the end of the first year of the project.

They brainstormed the most important topics and themes in order to categorize the resources and create a series of tags that reflect the work, understanding and development of Citizen Cyberlab.

The main tags are: disciplinary domain (within e.g. science, humanities, etc.), methods (the procedures, approach, techniques, plan or arrangements used in the article/book) and purpose (review, critique, reflection, ethical considerations, evaluation, etc.). Regalado says the original intention was twofold, “Considering that there is a great number of papers and articles written on citizen science, we wanted to select the ones that were relevant for our project, have them in one searchable place, and share them with ourselves and world online.” It also serves as a way to categorize the vast number of papers, based on different categories relevant to the project. The main theme categories are citizen science, education, and creativity. The sub-themes in citizen science include typology, design, and evaluation of citizen science projects. The sub-themes in education and creativity include learning (informal, accidental, and online, etc.), games (serious games, leisure, gamification, etc.), definitions, and design (in, of and for citizen science).

Regalado adds, “When we published the bibliography we categorized the publications (including peer-reviewed, magazine articles, videos, etc.) according to the tags above, relevant to our project. Since then, more than 50 people, not associated with Cyberlab, have joined the collection titled Citizen Cyberlab: Learning & Creativity Aided by ICT on Mendeley, a popular bibliography management program

and have uploaded articles they think are relevant.” And if the keywords and categories they created are not relevant to your project, you can create your own.

“Seeing how it has grown on its own since we published it is really exciting,” says Regalado. “It was publicized when it first came out but we haven't promoted it since, which means that people have just found it through their own searches. People are adding articles to it, which means they value it and want to contribute to it, and by doing so they also make it their own.”

This being citizen science, the group is interested to learn what topics are important to you as a citizen scientist! Anyone can join the group, and add to the bibliography—which is quickly earning praise—so please, read up on how to join here! The bibliography can be found here

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