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Citizen Science as the new paradigm for Science Communication

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NEWSERA (Citizen Science as the new paradigm for Science Communication)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-03-31

Citizen science initiatives are changing the paradigm of science communication. Not only the embedded bottom-up methodology takes into account people’s questions and their information needs, aligning science and society interests, but also allows citizens and other key stakeholders to become data generators and, as such, to become the source of news for science communication. Citizen science opens a true way of innovative communication in science, at all levels and all types of the quadruplex helix stakeholder, bridging the gap between science and society helping to democratize science. NEWSERA analyses and evaluates the complex and multidirectional science communication strategies, including digital and non-digital ones, addressed to quadruple helix stakeholders in citizen science projects across Europe as the new paradigm for science communication.
The overall aim of NEWSERA is to demonstrate the virtues of citizen science as an inclusive, broad and powerful science communication mechanism that can allow to increase trust in science communication and, in turn, in science at large, while opening up science and innovation to the whole society, raising awareness and educating in science, and reducing the chances of incurring in fake news by promoting critical thinking. Different tools and strategies used to address quadruple helix stakeholders in citizen science projects are being evaluated both in terms of effectiveness of the communication itself, and in terms of perception by the different stakeholder groups, with the objective of identifying motivations and barriers, and propose a new, more cost-effective strategies to increase trust. Our challenge is to integrate citizen science as a tool in science communication and define specific strategies addressed to quadruple helix stakeholders. To address NEWSERA goals, a world-class partnership has been assembled combining experts in citizen science and science communication, universities, associations of research centers, CSOs, SMEs and a public body and RFO from 3 countries (Portugal, Spain and Italy).
NEWSERA has been greatly active since the project’s inception organizing several #CitSciComm Labs that constitute the project’s bottom-up approach to test the concepts of Citizen Science Communication and Citizen Science Journalism by involving targeted quadruplex helix stakeholders in co-creation processes. NEWSERA has implemented the committed actions within this first reporting period going beyond the planned activities achieving the following main results:
NEWSERA has conducted the Survey "A portrait of Science Communication Strategies by Citizen Science projects" to study science communication strategies commonly used among 157 active citizen science projects across the EU and the UK to provide a solid conceptual basis for the NEWSERA project that will be used for the pilots and impact evaluation. The analysis included Southern EU countries (Portugal, Spain and Italy), which will allow advancing beyond the current state-of-the-art.
Selection of 38 ongoing citizen science projects, from 3 different countries, to become NEWSERA pilots of study, collaborating within the citizen science projects.
Definition and analysis of indicators to evaluate CS projects science communication strategies, both in terms of effectiveness and stakeholders’ perceptions, using the Kampal methodological tool.
A total of 28 workshops were organized so far; 2 workshops, for each of the three countries involved and for each of the 4 #CitSciComm Labs (aimed at each specific quadruple helix stakeholder) plus one mutual learning event with the 3 countries after each #CitSciComm Lab. Moreover, Data Journalism Labs will soon start to take place.
#CitSciComm Labs have followed an inclusive approach (considering gender, age, socio-economic contexts, etc.) in all the co-designed tasks to guarantee overcoming participatory barriers in science communication, in particular due to the COVID-19 crisis.
NEWSERA is a highly ambitious project that aims to leverage citizen science initiatives to their full potential by fostering an improved and effective participation in science communication. It aims at positioning citizen science as the new paradigm for science communication, by proposing a new concept Citizen Science Communication #CitSciComm, understood as a broader, more inclusive and evolving way of science communication in which 4-helix stakeholders play a leading role. At the same time, NEWSERA is in an unique position to introduce and explore the concept of Citizen Science Journalism #CitSciJournalism, which will empower citizens from mere data collectors to promote instead a participatory and transparent ecosystem to encourage change for the benefit of communities.

NEWSERA is then pioneering a holistic approach of multi-level science communication, addressed to quadruplex stakeholders, while testing and validating CS as an innovative tool, through a continuous and iterative analysis and evaluation in terms of effectiveness of the communication and overall perception.

Several #CitSciComm labs, organized by the consortium, have already been involving 4-helix stakeholders in approximately 40 currently active CS projects, previously mapped within EU-Citizen.Science platform, and which act upon environmental matters, addressing challenges in science communication strategies from the different projects by building capacity in local communities, increasing transparency, promoting dialogue and collaboration. The NEWSERA methodology is being validated through pilots tackling a variety of science communication issues in different contexts. These will ultimately contribute to establish a roadmap for efficient science communication by providing innovative communication blueprints and policy briefs to be widely and publicly disseminated.

NEWSERA will improve the public perception of science, increase the level of scientific literacy, increase trust and consequently decrease the extent of fake news.
Virtual Consortium Meeting