Blog Post

Research shows that events catalyze project participation. How “One Million Acts of Science” can boost your project this April.

Written in partnership with Emma Giles, SciStarter.

Projects interested in reaching new audiences may take a tip from research about event-style engagement. Efforts such as bioblitzes and bird counts are known for this approach, and these–along with others–were explored and analyzed in a 2018 paper by Ellwood et al. (open access in BioScience).

Figure 3 from BioScience, Volume 68, Issue 2, February 2018, Pages 112–124, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/bix143

This team of authors was particularly attentive to data from their own project, the WeDigBio movement to digitize biological collections. Their interests included understanding how event-based activities might work for online projects, including options for engaging either onsite (e.g., at a museum where the collection is housed) or offsite (e.g., at home).

One takeaway from an analysis of several years of participation data: hosting an event can both boost project participation during the event, and also elevate interest in the project and increase participation following the event (Ellwood et al. 2018). The figure excerpted here shows increased transcription tasks for multiple projects during and after the online WeDigBio event.

Reflecting on activities since 2015, when the WeDigBio initiative was first debuted, they found their online engagement events to be a success “by measures of productivity, engagement, satisfaction, and opportunity costs.” As an added insight, opportunity costs (the investment of planning and hosting an event) go down over time and with experience. They can also be decreased by leveraging momentum around existing events.

Introducing One Million Acts of Science – a global, month-long campaign to inspire people to discover and join your participatory science project and collectively generate over one million data points to help accelerate research this April.   

SciStarter, Arizona State University, the Association for Advancing Participatory Sciences, Discover Magazine, Science Friday, libraries, museums, the Girl Scouts, corporate volunteer programs, and many other partners are inviting schools, federal agencies, associations, community based organizations and individuals to participate in hundreds of projects and events in need of volunteers and their observations during the month of April. 

Many museums and libraries are already planning events and the National Library of Medicine All of Us Program Center is providing support for public libraries and All of Us Research Program involvement in Citizen Science Month to emphasize the importance of diverse participation in research. 

SciStarter, which provides digital infrastructure support, training, outreach, promotions and data analytics, is offering project and event coordinators customizable resources to leverage  One Million Acts of Science to catalyze or renew engagement throughout April! 

To get started, sign up with SciStarter by March 15 to indicate your interest and commitment to report the number of Acts (data observations logged or analyzed, for example) in your project or event. Then, find resources to plan events and programs and to connect with a variety of communities on CitizenScienceMonth.org.  Your project or event will be promoted leading up to and during Citizen Science Month and included in One Million Acts of Science promotions.  Past Citizen Science Month programs were featured in Discover Magazine, Astronomy Magazine, Science Friday, PBS, The Weather Channel, and in many other global, national, and local media outlets. Federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration promote Citizen Science Month in communications to encourage public engagement.

Leverage the Moment

“One Million Acts of Science” is a media moment that you can leverage to boost participation and draw attention to your project. One way to is to host an event, either online or in person, for your project.

Here’s how to make the most of SciStarter and the One Million Acts of Science campaign to increase awareness of and participation in your project or event this April:

  1. Add or update your project/event on SciStarter.org (SciStarter.org/add) 
  2. Consider becoming a SciStarter Affiliate to be eligible for enhanced promotions and  inclusion in programs with Girl Scouts, corporate volunteer programs and more. There are several ways to do this including via APIs.  Email Info@SciStarter.org with questions.  
  3. Sign up to have your project or event included in the One Million Acts of Science campaign. 
  4. “Own” a day in April when SciStarter can focus attention on your project or event! For example, the Girl Scouts Overseas are partnering with veterans to engage people in Stall Catchers (an online citizen science project to accelerate research on Alzheimer’s disease) on April 22. The National Science Foundation hosts a social media blitz on their accounts on one day in April to promote NSF-supported projects.  (Several federal agencies are planning to do this in 2024!)  
  5. Use free, customizable resources to promote your project’s involvement in One Million Acts. For example, find a sample email to invite your past and current volunteers to re-engage in April and find sample social media posts in this Marketing Toolkit. Find Free images to use on the SciStarter SmugMug page, as well as downloadable “Event Recipe Cards” based on a representative sampling of projects. Use them to create a program based on your project.  Send your photos or images to SciStarter if you would like them to publish it for others to use! info@scistarter.org 
  6. Encourage your volunteers to host their own events and offer to “zoom” in to connect directly with them.   
  7. Make your resources visible. If you have resources for educators and facilitators, it’s time to share them. Post on socials and tag @SciStarter and #OneMillionActsofScience so SciStarter can promote them too. Use the People Finder tool to find and support volunteers in your area. Invite them to an event or encourage them to join One Million Acts of Science. 

Boosting Participation Beyond Citizen Science Month

There are SciStarter resources you can leverage to support your project beyond Citizen Science Month. SciStarter helps you efficiently and economically amplify your project, recruit more participants, and learn more about participants’ experiences and interests while accelerating your scientific research. Find out more about how you can leverage the SciStarter project finder, analytic tools, and API to boost participation in your project on the SciStarter website.

Contact Emma Giles (Emma@SciStarter.org) or the SciStarter team (info@SciStarter.org) with any questions.

For more information on Citizen Science Month partnerships, visit our homepage, https://CitizenScienceMonth.org 

In collaboration with the Association for Advancing Participatory Sciences, this blog is an update on “SciStarter Resources for Project Leaders & Facilitators” published by the SciStarter Team, Oct 12, 2023.

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