Cindy Lopes-Bento, the FNR’s Head of Science of Science and Professor at the University of Leuven, has secured a prestigious Marie Curie grant for the project “Engaging the citizen. The impact of crowd knowledge on science”, set to launch in Spring 2022, in collaboration with members of the FNR’s Science in Society team.
The project, led by Dr Cindy Lopes-Bento in her capacity as a researcher, aims to increase the understanding we have of crowd science. The project will, for example, use non-scientific knowledge to understand how input from the wider public may impact the direction of scientific research or the acceptance thereof by society.
Engaging the citizen. The impact of crowd knowledge on science.
Making science more accessible and acceptable to the larger public has become a main focus of policy makers. This endeavor has gained in urgency in light of the current pandemic where it has become evident that acceptance of science is the main vehicle to get society out of a worldwide sanitary crisis. It has never been clearer that science and society have to join forces and grant each other trust to succeed.
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 benefits of crowd science is vast: it allows for the contribution of ideas and solutions by the public; it enables for a wider range of research questions; it is likely to increase the acceptance of scientific findings and of overall scientific literacy in society; it allows scientists to more readily recognize the human behind their research rather than the academic challenge or publication.
While the benefits of crowd science are substantial, the vital steps to reap these benefits are to
- understand the preferences and costs of scientists to engage in crowd input,
- to delineate the scientists’ characteristics that engage with citizens,
- To understand the impact that societal stakeholder may have on deicion-making in science and science funding, and to
- define relevant incentives for scientists to increase their engagement with the crowd .
By understanding those aspects, policy can derive targeted measures to render future crowd science actions more successful and to make science a more integrative endeavour.