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REsearch INfrastructures FOR Citizens in Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - REINFORCE (REsearch INfrastructures FOR Citizens in Europe)

Período documentado: 2021-03-01 hasta 2022-11-30

Large Research Infrastructures (LRI) in the field of frontier physics have opened new observational windows to the universe and explore the structure of matter in extreme detail. These advancements require high levels of expertise and sophistication, which society lacks. As a consequence, citizens merely observe these developments through outreach activities without actively contributing in the development of new scientific knowledge. This fact induces a gap between frontier science and society that can spawn misconceptions about the content, context and mission of public funded frontier science. Modern, high-level frontier physics experiments, carried out by LRI, are often not easily transposed into usefully-comprehensible approaches that may appeal across the broad spectrum of citizen scientists.

REINFORCE has aimed to draw on the support of citizens to help in the development of new scientific knowledge. It has done this by building and extensively interacting with communities of practice that have been built around four demonstrator projects that have been designed, developed and deployed within the project on the Zooniverse platform. Citizens have assisted directly in scientific research by classifying data subjects, but they have also contributed through interactions with the demonstrator-project research teams. This communication has been fruitful enough to occasionally even merit escalating suggestions to discussions with wider networks in the supporting scientific-research collaborations.

A Policy Roadmap on research infrastructures for citizens science in Europe has been produced within the project and provides a series of recommendations and objectives to pursue in order to effectively embed citizen science in large research infrastructures. The deliverable details implementation steps on the path to effective take-up, incorporating responsible research and innovation at the heart of the process. A broad range of recommendations, covering a number of different areas, including: open access to services; standards; collaboration; inclusion; science and society; sustainability; governance models; scaling-up; and policy-making processes.

Exploring the potential of frontier citizen science for inclusion and diversity was at the very heart of the project and much work has been done to this end. A work package - Increasing the senses, increasing inclusion - was dedicated to the exploitation of this work. A dedicated data-sonification tool - sonoUno - was developed along with associated training courses. Within this work package, art and science initiatives were implemented, as well as a course on critical thinking and a senior citizen science course. The demonstrator-project documentation has also been translated into Italian, Greek and Spanish, with the aim of assisting the further exploitation of the projects long into the future and helping to diversify their communities of practice even further.
Within REINFORCE, the aim has been to help enhance society's science literacy and awareness and to contribute in the production of scientific knowledge by citizens for society. This objective has been faced using a diverse and multi-faceted approach. Four citizen-science demonstrator projects were developed on the Zooniverse platform, each concentrating on a different area of frontier physics: gravitational-wave research; neutrino astronomy; particle physics; and muography and its inter-relation with archaeology and geoscience. Communities of practice have been built around each of the demonstrator projects and have been nurtured through the implementation of a thorough and wide-ranging engagement strategy. The effectiveness of the strategy and the demonstrator projects themselves have been evaluated within the project, with their impacts carefully weighed and measured.

The immediate focus on the research areas, via the demonstrator projects, has been consolidated by a varied and inclusive approach to community building. Data made available for the demonstrator projects by the research collaborations supporting them have been sonified and a dedicated sonification tool - sonoUno - has been developed within the project. Training courses to support the sonification tool have been designed and implemented, while a range of art and science initiatives have been held with the aim of reaching members of the public who might otherwise not be reached through traditional methods of scientific outreach or communication. A senior citizen science course has been designed an implemented and has developed a lifespan that will go on beyond the REINFORCE project itself, while a course on critical thinking has also been developed and implemented.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which struck just a month after the project launch, inevitably created challenges along the way, but the REINFORCE Collaboration strived as much as possible to meet these head on. The project concluded with the delivery of a policy roadmap detailing policy gaps and challenges, as well as suggestions and recommendations, in relation to the subject of how to embed citizen science in LRI in a structured manner.
REINFORCE has successfully created informed communities of citizens who are actively participating in the scientific endeavours of the partner organisations. The demonstrator projects on Zooniverse are at the vanguard of this, with their significant uptake and considerable volunteer contributions, both in terms of classifications, as well as involvement in discussions with the research teams. Other elements of the project have certainly contributed to this success, however. For example, an enthusiastic community has developed around the senior citizen science course, which is now into its second edition. The Collaboration has tried to turn the online nature of many of the project initiatives, enforced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, to its advantage, by using it to reach as wide an audience as possible, without restricting itself to local communities. The art and science competition for young people, for example, reached across different continents, while considerable support and focus has been given to events and conferences taking place in South America.

The close collaboration between the research teams, supported by the engagement strategy and evaluation process, has also contributed directly to the success of the individual demonstrator projects and the success of the project as a whole, while extensive engagement with teachers groups and specific efforts to promote the project to young people, have also been beneficial overall. These sessions have not just focused on the demonstrator projects, but have also involved exploring and training on the sonoUno sonification tool. The work on the sonification tool in particular has helped create a positive-feedback loop between volunteers and the development team, contributing to innovative and resourceful solutions.

The evaluation process within REINFORCE has also shown how the members of the communities of practice are confident that the demonstrator projects have been successful in achieving their goals, while impact has been measured against a wide range of indicators, including: attitudes towards science, motivation, science-related skills, self-efficacy and scientific knowledge. Differences in terms of engagement level, visual impairment and discriminated against groups have also been examined.
REINFORCE-ing citizen science in large research infrastructures - Delivery of a policy roadmap
REINFORCE website homepage
Flyer for the REINFORCE Critical Thinking course
Poster of the REINFORCE project
How to use cosmic rays in the study of geosciences and archaeology
Flyer for the REINFORCE Interational Youth Art & Science competition (12-18 age group)
Banner image for the REINFORCE webinar "Identifying undiscovered particles at the Large Hadron Colli
Flyer for the REINFORCE Interational Youth Art & Science competition (4-12 age group)
Banner image for the REINFORCE webinar “How to help scientists in the gravitational wave noise hunt”
Opening Research Infrastructures - How citizens can play an active role in the advance of ground-bre
Flyer for the REINFORCE Senior Citizen Science course
Banner image for the REINFORCE webinar “Discovering the unexplored deep marine environment”
Banner image for the REINFORCE webinar “Bridging the gap between science and society though citizen