Accepted Paper:

Scientists, Citizen Scientists, and the People in the Middle  


Hined Rafeh (Drexel University)

Paper short abstract:

An STS Analysis of The Middle-Person in Citizen Science Interactions

Paper long abstract:

This paper is based on ethnographic and observational data gathered from participating as a middle-woman between scientists and citizen scientists. In 2015, SciStarter partnered up with NASA's GLOBE Program to recruit citizen scientists to collect soil moisture samples in order to ground truth satellite data. The program has stressed the need for volunteer scientists to aid in producing viable results and SciStarter has been extremely involved in the production of novices and experts, stressing the needs of the citizen scientists. This project is a perfect case study to trace information flow between contributors and project owners, as well as the entanglement of technologies and communities in citizen science. The middleman between the scientists and citizen scientists echoes the role of middleman that STS serves between science and society, and much of the same analysis can be implanted in citizen science. This paper will utilize in particular the following STS theories: social construction of technology, actor-network theory, and the co-production of scientific knowledge.

Panel T106
Citizen science: Beyond the laboratory