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Crop Biotech Update

Citizen Science Can Play A Role in Addressing Agricultural Challenges

November 28, 2018

An international team of scientists has published a paper that highlights the potential of citizen science in addressing the pressing research challenges in agriculture and food systems. The researchers found that one key to capitalizing on such efforts may be to build stronger ties between citizen science and agricultural extension efforts.

The research group defines citizen science as "research in which non-scientists play a role in project development, data collection or discovery and which is subject to conventional peer review." It has been around for centuries, but received renewed attention recently, partly because of the recognition that engaging citizens in science can speed scientific discovery, democratize engagement in science and, potentially, improve or influence the decisions stakeholders make in light of science.

The researchers analyzed hundreds of academic articles, and found that, as long as a study was well-designed, citizen science could produce solid findings, make a research project more cost effective, and allow researchers to expand the scale of their studies dramatically. Another key idea is that that agricultural extension and citizen science practitioners could learn from each other, and such partnerships hold a lot of potential for addressing agricultural research challenges.

For more details, read the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.