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Engaging the citizen. The impact of crowd knowledge on science.

Project description

When scientists listen to the public

Creating research that is both accessible and acceptable to the public means scientific activity should not be conducted only at universities or research centres. Volunteers (non-scientific) should also participate in research projects. Known as crowd science, this approach contributes ideas and solutions to issues being researched. The EU-funded CROWDKNOW project will work to ensure citizens’ inputs are not ignored. It will measure the preferences and costs of scientists for engaging in crowd input and define relevant incentives for scientists to increase their engagement in crowd science projects. The project will also explore the characteristics of scientists who engage with citizens. This will show how important it is for scientists to be trained to interact with the public.


For decades, scientific activity has been firmly anchored in universities, research centres, or specialized firms’ R&D departments leading to science being considered an Ivory Tower endeavour. Making science more accessible and acceptable to the larger public is one focus of the European Commission. One possible way to achieve this goal is through crowd science, an approach that allows a wide base of (non-scientific) volunteers to participate in research projects. The potential benefit of crowd science is vast, for example, the contribution of ideas and solution by the public can widen the range of research questions that can be addressed and it can increase the acceptance of scientific findings and literacy of science in the society.
While the benefit of crowd science is substantial, the vital step to reap this benefit is that scientists pick up on citizens’ suggestions and actually pursue these ideas by transforming them into research projects. Many citizens’ inputs go unaddressed because their relevance is undervalued or not recognized by scientists who are trained to interact with peers rather than layman. This can lead to a loss of valuable knowledge and might discourage citizens to contribute to crowd projects in the future. The first step to mitigate this problem is to understand what type of knowledge scientists pick up, what type of scientist participates in such endeavours and how policy can encourage further scientists in doing so. This project employs an adaptive choice-based conjoint (ACBC) analysis to (i) measure the preferences and costs of scientists to engage in crowd input and quantifies the pick-up rate of citizens’ inputs by scientists, (ii) delineates the scientists’ characteristics that engage with citizens, and (iii) defines relevant incentives for scientists to increase their engagement in crowd science projects to derive policy measures that render future crowd science actions more successful.



Net EU contribution
€ 178 320,00
Oude markt 13
3000 Leuven

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Vlaams Gewest Prov. Vlaams-Brabant Arr. Leuven
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00