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Facilitating wider participation and community building in citizen science through visualisation

Project Topic Overview

Citizen science has gained significant interest as a methodology where research is conducted with participation from the public and are being increasingly used to as methods to co-develop research questions, gather data, assess outcomes, and deliver impact. However, citizen science projects tend to struggle with wider participation and tend to attract contributions from traditionally well-off areas, resulting in inequalities in representation. The project’s goal is to strengthen the interactions between science and the publics in data-intensive science by exploring the role that data visualisation could play as a participatory method in facilitating effective, accessible and richer citizen science engagements. This is important to build stronger and diverse communities who can meaningfully engage with, contribute to and learn from science that have an impact on their life and environment, and to innovate in scientific processes and practices that engage comprehensively and more inclusively with society.

The project will be carried out with our collaborators at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH) who work on biodiversity modelling in the UK. The project will explore and establish the concept of participatory data visualisation as a method to provide a medium of dialogue between scientists and members of the public acting as citizen scientists and will aim to develop a design space of participatory visualisations. The project could explore questions including: “how can we facilitate deeper engagement with and participation in science by creating rich, engaging and actionable communication devices?”, “how can the scientific outputs be more clearly communicated — what is the right level of detail and uncertainty to communicate to facilitate participation?”, “how can the impact of citizen science efforts be recognised and acknowledged, and be delivered in a meaningful way specifically to individuals and to communities?, “how could more impactful visualisation help the engagement for people who don’t typically engage with citizen science?”, “how is the role of scientific institutions negotiated in these interactions, how are issues such as reputation and rigour come into play?”.

The anticipated outcomes are innovations in methodologies of participation and citizen science, novel visualisations and verbalisations (i.e., data-driven textual representations), and data interactions to facilitate a richer dialogue between scientists and citizen scientists with a pathway to impact to influence citizen science practices for wider societal participation in data-intensive science and any subsequent decision-making informed by it.

Applicant Profile

Standard requirement for all projects: A good first degree (2:1 above or equivalent), a postgraduate degree/ or equivalent professional or research experience.

The scholarship is offered to applicants with outstanding academic profiles and research proposals. It normally includes UK fees and stipends.

Applicants are required to develop their own research proposals under this thematic topic. Please get in touch with the supervision team before submitting an application.

An ideal candidate would be knowledgeable and interested in data visualisation and human-computer interaction research. An interest in practices and methodologies of participation, and/or awareness of human-centred design practices would be beneficial. We would expect the candidate to demonstrate skills in designing and developing visualisations through code, knowledge and awareness of design and qualitative research methods and demonstrate an appreciation of interdisciplinarity. They will be educated to Masters level in a cognate discipline, and can demonstrate some experience of conducting prior research.

Supervisory Team

Prof Cagatay Turkay, Centre of Interdisciplinary Methodologies

Prof. Turkay is a Professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies at the University of Warwick, UK and a Turing Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute, London, UK. His research investigates the interactions between data, algorithms and people, and explores the role of interactive visualisation and other interaction mediums such as natural language at this intersection. His recent work explores how data and algorithms could be incorporated in decision making processes, and how publics could engage meaningfully with them

Dr Greg McInerny , Centre of Interdisciplinary Methodologies

Dr McInerny is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies. His research focuses on Data/Information Visualisation as an area that bursts out of the confines of data science and design, bringing software and sciences into relation with the arts, humanities and social sciences. His recent research aims to understand ‘visualisation’ as a subject, as a set of methods and as an object, and through a variety of frames as user, tool designer/developer and critical researcher, and through understanding everyday relationships with visualisation.

Dr Vangelis Pitidis, Institute for Global Sustainable Development

Dr Pitidis is an Assistant Professor of Global Sustainable Development at IGSD, focusing on the intersection of urban resilience, governance and citizen science both in the Global North and in the Global South. His research is focused on urban resilience and its potential to transform the traditional pathways of urban governance delivery as well as in developing participatory methods for engaging local communities in disaster risk management, based on dialogical co-production methods.

Prof Noortje Marres, Centre of Interdisciplinary Methodologies

Prof Marres is a Professor in Science, Technology and Society in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies at the University of Warwick. Her work contributes to the interdisciplinary field of Science, Technology and Society (STS) and investigates issues at the intersection of innovation, publics, the environment and everyday life. Her current research focuses on experiments "beyond the laboratory," examining diverse forms of testing in societal settings - street trials of intelligent vehicles, fact-checks in media environments and Covid testing situations - as critical interfaces between science, engineering, nature and society.