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Special Issue Call for Papers on Where Environmental Citizen Science meets the Law

Citizen Science: Theory & Practice

Special Issue Call for Papers on Where Environmental Citizen Science meets the Law

Issue editors: Shun-Ling Chen (Institute Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica, Taiwan), Anna Berti Suman (Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society and European Commission Joint Research Centre), George Wyeth (The Environmental Law Institute, Washington, DC), Dick Kasperowski (Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg), Christopher Kullenberg (Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg)

Issue overview

The field of Citizen Science has undergone extensive development during the past decade, owing to lack of institutional resources by authorities to monitor the environment, enforcement failures, and an increasing interest and tech/environmental literacy among the public. In spite of this, the recognition of the use of citizen data in relation to environmental law, grounding legal enforcement and environmental litigation is not extensively researched.

In fact, it can be argued that national and international legal adaptation to this development is altogether protracted, creating a need to understand the reasons for this slow development of one of the more important settings for citizen science in society, namely the relationships between citizen science, law, regulation, and governance.

 Further understanding of the aspects that surround the use of citizen data within legal contexts is crucial in relation to notions of participatory and active civic citizenship where citizen data becomes one route for the public to directly engage in public decision-making. However, self-reliant citizens, as individuals or groups, might also be expected to take on more responsibilities (in monitoring the environment, personal health, etc.) and find their own resources, which in turn, justifies further underfunding of institutions.

For this special issue, we welcome contributions exploring different intersections of citizen science and environmental law. Papers may range from close analyses of particular cases to comparisons of national and international conventions of existing and possible new legal frameworks that could (or not) accommodate this development. We anticipate studies of initiatives from institutionalised science or public authorities, and also of community-based civic mobilization, creating data for environmental justice. To implement official government environmental policies through different laws at hand often requires observations beyond what public authorities and science can produce on their own, sometimes challenging officially reported data, potentially and actually contributing to implementations and developments of environmental law. This wider landscape of where citizen science meets environmental law, however, remains largely unexplored. We therefore welcome original contributions investigating different forms of citizen science in conjunction with environmental law, assumed in a broad sense, to further understand whether environmental law is hindering or actually promoting citizen science, and how such practices need to adapt to develop their future potential.

Pertinent issues and potential paper topics

  • What are the roles of citizen data in court? Accuracy and reliability of the data, admissibility and credibility of the evidence, winning factors, comparative lessons
  • What similarities and differences can be found in national/international legal frameworks developed for citizen science?
  • What is missing in national/international legal frameworks to accommodate citizen science?
  • Environmental activism, citizen science and the Court/Law
  • Environmental justice, indigenous groups, and citizen science
  • Intellectual rights and citizen science
  • Citizen data and the implementation/enforcement of law
  • New environmental entitlements stemming from citizen science
  • Case studies specifying the relationships between citizen science law, regulation, and governance

Article types

In this special issue, we welcome a range of papers including research papers, review and synthesis papers, case studies, essays, and method papers as described by Citizen Science: Theory and Practice. Please note, the editors will likely ask authors of selected abstracts to review another paper in this special collection. Economic funding for the fee of 4–5 open access papers are secured with funding from Formas: The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (DNR 2017-01212). The editorial board will prioritize accepted contributions from those without institutional support, such as those undertaking environmental justice efforts with community-based organizations and others who do not particularly benefit from or have funding for academic publications.


Call for AbstractsAbstract deadlineAuthors notifiedPapers duePublication
10 May 2021  15 July 2021  15 August 2021  15 January 2022  ~July 2022  

Please review in advance the journal’s scope, author guidelines, and information on publication fees (including options for requesting a fee waiver) at

With questions about this special issue, contact Dick Kasperowski,

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