Blog Post

Why a Citizen Science journal? CS:TP Editor’s blog

Guest post by Rick Bonney, Editor in Chief of Citizen Science: Theory & Practice.

Anybody working in the citizen science field is aware of the proliferation of articles focused on citizen science which have appeared in recent years. Such articles focus on a range of topics including scientific findings based on volunteer-collected data; environmental policies influenced by citizen science data; and social impacts of participating in citizen science.

Furthermore, articles have appeared and continue to appear in a range of journals including Science, Bioscience, PLoS one, Conservation Biology, Biological Conservation, Journal of Science Communication, Public Understanding of Science, and many more. Why, then, in 2016 did the Citizen Science Association launch its new journal, Citizen Science: Theory and Practice?

The main reason is that most other journals focus primarily on outcomes of citizen science and not so much on the best practices of the field—that is, the research and development that goes into understanding the best ways of developing, implementing, sustaining, and evaluating projects that focus on public engagement in the scientific process. We wanted to provide a home for all types of individuals working in the citizen science field to publish and read papers about citizen science innovations, methods, case studies, and research on practice. While such articles sometimes are appropriate for disciplinary journals, such as those mentioned above, in many cases they are best suited for a journal specifically devoted to the field.

Citizen Science: Theory and Practice is not a place to publish scientific findings resulting from public participation in science. Such findings should find homes in subject-area journals that are focused on providing scientific results, where citizen science is simply the method used to obtain the data. Over time, as more and more articles are published that provide solid scientific results, citizen science will become even more established as a research technique than it already is.

But readers who want to go behind the scenes in citizen science research and project development will find a wealth of information in CSA’s journal. And authors who choose to submit papers to the journal will have their articles handled and reviewed by a growing team of editors and reviewers with significant expertise in the citizen science field. Not every article is accepted, of course, and very few are accepted in a first round of review. But we do work extensively with authors to produce the strongest articles that we can publish to advance this growing field.

TIP: If you are interested in submitting an article to the journal, please read the guidelines carefully, posted at the journal website. Pay close attention to the types and formats of articles accepted! And please note our word limits. Except in special cases, papers that are longer than 8,000 words can usually be shortened or made into multiple papers.

Volume 4, Number 1 will launch soon with articles on citizen scientists’ preferences for communication; methods for counting caterpillars; coordinating advanced crowd work; understanding dialog in online co-created investigation; and engaging birdwatchers in forest bird monitoring. We hope that you enjoy reading these and that they help you with your work in this rapidly expanding field.

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