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Citizen Science Programs

Last modified: January 26, 2023
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Estimated reading time: 11 min


Citizen science is a form of scientific research where members of the public actively participate in the scientific process. This can include collecting, analyzing, or helping design research projects. The importance of citizen science lies in its ability to engage people in scientific research and education and to increase public understanding of science. It also allows collecting large-scale data, which can be difficult for scientists working alone or in small groups.

Additionally, citizen science projects can involve people from diverse backgrounds, which can lead to more inclusive and equitable scientific research. In today’s world, citizen science is important because it allows more people to have a say in research that affects their lives and communities and can also provide new insights and discoveries that would not be possible without public participation.

Citizen science can also be particularly beneficial for transnational communities, as it allows for the participation of individuals from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. This can help to ensure that the perspectives of all members of a community are represented in the research process. Additionally, citizen science can provide an opportunity for individuals from transnational communities to engage with and learn about scientific research in a way that is meaningful and relevant to them. For example, citizen science projects that focus on issues of concern for transnational communities, such as climate change or public health, can help build capacity and empower individuals to take action in their communities.

Citizen science is a collaborative approach to scientific research where members of the public, often called “citizen scientists,” actively collect and analyze data. This approach can be beneficial in advancing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs in several ways.

  1. Increased public engagement and understanding of science: Citizen science can help to increase public engagement and understanding of scientific research and its impact on society. By participating in research, members of the public can learn about scientific concepts and how they relate to their lives.
  2. Increased data collection: Citizen science projects can involve large numbers of participants, which can lead to the collection of large amounts of data. This can be especially useful in ecology and meteorology, where data is often collected over large geographical areas.
  3. Cost-effective research: Citizen science can be a cost-effective research method, as it often relies on volunteers rather than paid staff. This can make it possible to conduct large-scale projects that would otherwise be unaffordable.
  4. Diversified perspectives: Citizen science can bring diverse perspectives to scientific research. This can lead to new ideas and approaches and help ensure that research is inclusive and responsive to the needs of different communities.
  5. Community building: Citizen science can help to build stronger communities by bringing people together around a shared goal. This can help foster a sense of shared ownership and stewardship of natural resources and lead to long-term community engagement in environmental management.

Overall, citizen science can be a powerful tool for advancing STEM programs and engaging the public in scientific research. It can lead to increased data collection, cost-effective research, diversified perspectives, and community building.


Citizen science can address a wide range of issues, including those related to environmental conservation, public health, and community development. Some of the key issues that citizen science can address include:

  1. Environmental conservation: Citizen science can help to gather data on species populations, habitat quality, and other environmental indicators, which can be used to inform conservation efforts.
  2. Public health: Citizen science can help to identify and track the spread of diseases, such as by monitoring the incidence of mosquito-borne diseases like the West Nile virus.
  3. Community development: Citizen science can help to identify and address issues of concern to local communities, such as by monitoring air and water quality or identifying sources of pollution.
  4. Climate change: Citizen science can help gather data on climate change by monitoring temperature and precipitation patterns or measuring the impacts of sea level rise.
  5. Natural disasters: Citizen science can help to track and predict natural disasters, such as by monitoring weather patterns and gathering data on the extent of damage caused by events like floods and hurricanes.
  6. Biodiversity: Citizen science can help to identify and track the distribution and abundance of different species, which can inform conservation efforts and help to identify areas of high biodiversity.
  7. Research: Citizen science can help to advance scientific research by providing large amounts of data that can be used to test hypotheses and make new discoveries.

Each of these issues is significant as they can significantly impact the well-being of individuals, communities, and the planet as a whole. Citizen science can help to address these issues by providing data and insights that can inform decision-making and guide action.


Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is an approach to research and innovation that actively involves various stakeholders, such as researchers, industry, policymakers, civil society organizations and the public, in co-creating and co-designing research and innovation processes and outcomes. RRI aims to ensure that research and innovation align with societal values, needs and expectations and address social and ethical challenges.

Some concrete examples of RRI include:

  1. Citizen science: Involving citizens in the design, execution, and dissemination of scientific research projects.
  2. Gender equality: Incorporating gender perspectives in research and innovation processes to ensure that they address the needs and concerns of both men and women.
  3. Open access: Making research and innovation results freely available to the public to ensure that they can be widely disseminated and used for the benefit of society.
  4. Science education: Improving the quality and accessibility of science education to ensure everyone has the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge needed to participate in RRI.
  5. Ethical governance: Establishing ethical governance structures and processes to ensure that research and innovation activities are conducted responsibly and transparently.
  6. Sustainability: Incorporating sustainability principles in research and innovation processes to ensure that they contribute to the long-term well-being of society and the planet.
  7. Social inclusion: Engaging with marginalized and underrepresented groups to ensure that research and innovation address their needs and concerns.
  8. Anticipation: Anticipate and address research and innovation’s potential impacts on society and the environment before they occur.

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is an approach to research and innovation that aims to ensure that the development and application of new technologies align with society’s values, needs, and expectations. It is an inclusive and participatory process that involves stakeholders from all sectors of society, including industry, academia, civil society, and government, in the co-creation and co-design of research and innovation.

Citizen science can play an essential role in RRI by engaging the public in the research process and allowing them to participate in decision-making and knowledge co-creation. By involving citizens in the research process, scientists can better understand society’s values, needs, and expectations, which can help ensure that the research is more socially relevant and responsive.

Citizen science can also help to address many of the issues that RRI aims to address, such as:

  • Lack of public trust in science and technology: Citizen science can help build trust by increasing transparency and openness and allowing the public to participate in the research process.
  • Lack of public engagement in science and technology: Citizen science can help engage the public by allowing them to participate in real-world research projects that are relevant to their lives.
  • Lack of diversity and inclusivity in science and technology: Citizen science can help increase diversity and inclusivity by engaging a wide range of stakeholders, including those traditionally underrepresented in science and technology.
  • Lack of public understanding of science and technology: Citizen science can help to increase public understanding by providing the public with the opportunity to learn about science and technology through hands-on participation.

Overall, citizen science can be seen as a valuable tool for implementing RRI, as it can help to ensure that research and innovation are more inclusive, responsive, and socially relevant.

Competence Cells

A competence cell in the context of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is a group of individuals or organizations with specific expertise, skills, and knowledge that can be brought together to address a specific research or innovation challenge. Competence cells aim to bring together diverse perspectives and skill sets to promote more inclusive and responsible research and innovation outcomes.

In practice, competence cells can be formed around specific themes or topics, such as climate change, sustainable development, or social justice. These cells can be composed of researchers, policymakers, industry representatives, civil society organizations, and members of the public. They work together to identify key research and innovation challenges and then develop strategies and actions to address them.

Competence cells can also promote stakeholder engagement and co-creation in the research and innovation process. By bringing together different stakeholders, competence cells can help to ensure that the research and innovation process is inclusive and responsive to the needs and concerns of different groups.

Examples of competence cells include the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, which has created several competence centers to promote responsible research and innovation across different sectors. Another example is the Citizen Science Global Partnership, which brings organizations and individuals worldwide to promote citizen science and engagement in the research process.

In the context of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), competence cells can play an essential role in facilitating collaboration between scientists, policymakers, industry representatives, and members of the public.

To establish a competence cell for citizen science, the following steps can be taken:

  1. Identify the area of research or issue on which the competence cell will focus. This could be related to a specific scientific field or societal challenge that citizen science can address.
  2. Gather a diverse group of individuals with relevant expertise or experience. This could include scientists, policymakers, industry representatives, and public members who are interested in the topic.
  3. Develop a clear set of goals and objectives for the competence cell. This could include identifying key research questions, developing a data collection and analysis plan, and identifying stakeholders involved in the process.
  4. Establish clear communication and collaboration channels between members of the competence cell. This could include regular meetings, email lists, or other forms of communication that allow members to share information and work together effectively.
  5. Provide training and support for members of the competence cell to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out their work effectively.
  6. Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the competence cell and make adjustments as needed.

Following these steps can establish a competence cell for citizen science. It can effectively contribute to RRI by providing an essential link between scientists, policymakers, industry representatives, and members of the public. The competence cell can serve as a platform for the co-creation and co-design of research projects and as a channel for feedback and communication between stakeholders. This allows for a more inclusive and responsible approach to research and innovation, which benefits all parties involved.


Micro-credentials are small digital badges or certifications individuals earn to complete specific tasks, learning objectives, or activities. These credentials can be used to recognize and document the knowledge, skills, and abilities that individuals have acquired through various means, including self-directed learning, on-the-job training, and formal education.

In the context of citizen science, micro-credentials can accelerate the development of community-based programs by providing individuals with a way to demonstrate competence and engagement in specific areas of citizen science. For example, micro-credentials could be awarded for completing a citizen science training program, participating in a specific research project, or contributing data to a citizen science database.

Using micro-credentials in citizen science can help increase participation and engagement in community-based programs by providing individuals with a tangible way to document their contributions and recognize their achievements. Micro-credentials can also promote lifelong learning by encouraging individuals to continue acquiring new knowledge and skills through citizen science activities. Additionally, micro-credentials can help build a sense of community and collaboration among participants in citizen science programs by providing a way for individuals to share their achievements and collaborate with others with similar interests and skills.

Impact Certificates

Impact certificates are a way to recognize and validate the skills, knowledge, and achievements of individuals and organizations involved in citizen science projects. They are similar to micro-credentials aiming to recognize and validate the competencies of individuals and organizations. However, impact certificates focus specifically on the impact that a citizen science project has had on a community or society, whereas micro-credentials focus on the skills and knowledge that have been acquired through a project.

Impact certificates can accelerate citizen science for community issues in several ways. Firstly, they provide a way for individuals and organizations to be recognized for their contributions to a community or society. This can help to build trust and credibility with community members, which can, in turn, lead to increased participation in citizen science projects. Secondly, impact certificates can be used to promote the work of citizen scientists and their projects to a broader audience, which can help to raise awareness of community issues and attract additional funding and resources. Finally, impact certificates can be used to measure the impact of citizen science projects, which can help demonstrate citizen science’s value to decision-makers and funders.

In summary, impact certificates are a powerful tool for accelerating citizen science for community issues. They provide a way to recognize and validate the contributions of individuals and organizations, build trust and credibility with community members, promote the work of citizen scientists and their projects, and measure the impact of citizen science projects.

Quadruple Helix

The Quadruple Helix model is a framework that brings together government, industry, academia, and civil society to collaborate on research and innovation. In citizen science, this model can accelerate citizens’ engagement in science and research, particularly concerning Iranian diaspora communities.

Micro-credentials and impact certificates are two ways that the Quadruple Helix can use to accelerate citizen science for community issues. Micro-credentials are small, flexible and stackable credentials that recognize an individual’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. They are typically awarded for completing a specific course or program and can be used to demonstrate an individual’s competency in a particular field. In citizen science, micro-credentials can be used to recognize citizens’ achievements and contributions to research and innovation activities.

Impact certificates, on the other hand, are used to recognize and reward the impact that an individual or organization has made in a particular field or community. These certificates are usually awarded for projects or initiatives that have significantly impacted a community or society. In citizen science, impact certificates can be used to recognize the contributions of citizens who have significantly impacted their communities through their participation in research and innovation activities.

Using micro-credentials and impact certificates, the Quadruple Helix can create a tangible way to recognize and reward the contributions of citizens in citizen science programs. This will motivate citizens to participate in these programs and increase the visibility and recognition of the contributions of Iranian diaspora communities to science and research.

Diwan Programs

Citizen science programs at Diwan Network involve several key components to effectively address skills development, career paths, and professional development for individuals within Iranian diaspora communities.

  1. Competence Cells: Establishing competence cells within the network would allow individuals to develop specialized skills and knowledge in a particular area of citizen science. These cells could be organized around specific community issues, such as air quality or water conservation, and could involve experts and community members working together to design and carry out research projects.
  2. Micro-credentials and Impact Certificates: Offering micro-credentials and impact certificates for participation in the citizen science program would provide individuals with a tangible way to demonstrate their skills and knowledge to potential employers or educational institutions. These credentials could be earned through completing specific tasks or projects within the competence cells.
  3. Quadruple Helix Partnership: The citizen science program would involve partnerships with various stakeholders, including government, industry, civil society, and academia, to address community issues and promote RRI. This would provide opportunities for individuals to network and gain exposure to different sectors and career paths.
  4. Reverse Mentorship: To ensure that the program is inclusive and benefits the whole community, reverse mentorship could be implemented, where experienced professionals mentor and support young people and vice versa. This will help bridge the gap between generations, cultures and knowledge.
  5. Governance Models: The citizen science program would be governed by a transparent and inclusive model that allows for community participation in decision-making and project design. This would ensure that the program is responsive to community needs and priorities.
  6. Research and Development: Research and development could be carried out on the best practices and methods for citizen science in order to keep the program up-to-date and efficient, and to identify the best ways to involve diverse communities.
  7. Training and Support: To ensure that individuals are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to participate in the citizen science program, training and support would be provided. This could include workshops, online resources, and mentoring.

Overall, Diwan Network provide individuals with the opportunity to develop skills, gain knowledge, and advance their careers while also addressing important community issues and promoting RRI.

On-boarding process

  1. Join Diwan Network and register for the citizen science program.
  2. Participate in training and support sessions to gain the necessary skills and knowledge.
  3. Join a competence cell that aligns with your interests and community issues.
  4. Complete tasks and projects within the competence cell to earn micro-credentials and impact certificates.
  5. Network and collaborate with other individuals and stakeholders within the quadruple helix partnership.
  6. Use your skills and knowledge to make a positive impact on your community and advance your career.
  7. Provide feedback and suggestions for program improvement to ensure its continuity and effectiveness.

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