Image: Copyright Marochkina |

A Generation Research theme: April/May 2019

Invitation to contribute!

The theme will start in mid April 2019 and over the course of six weeks GenR will look to offer up examples of cutting edge work in the field from across Europe.

If you would like to make a contribution please drop the editor-in-chief Simon Worthington a line at or DM @gen_r_ on Twitter.

In this Generation Research theme the idea is to look at how the general public can participate in the research process and the creation of knowledge as Community Science and how this is reinvigorating a culture of scholarship and science in society at large.

Citizen Science is booming around the world but the degree to which it is open varies greatly, as does formal support for Citizen Science across disciplines, organizations and countries.

‘LIBER Open Science Roadmap’ (Ayris et al. 2018)

GenR has made a conscious choice to use Community Science over the more common term Citizen Science as its umbrella term for the participation of the wider public in scholarship. The primary reason for this choice is the understanding that it is an unintended category error to denote citizenship as a prerequisite for participation in scholarship and instead being a person would be enough to take part — citizen or not.

Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER) include Citizen Science (Haklay 2018) as one of the seven focus areas for its Open Science Roadmap which shows the importance of the field for research, institutions, and policy. When it comes to Community Science institutions are having to play catch-up with a changing world driven by the notion of networks and by social media, and where the outcomes can be unexpected. There are many forms of Community Science participation and many have very non-digital traits, which are more about being social in a face-to-face way and getting hands-on — making observations of wildlife, or collecting sample, working with Raspberry Pis — or social gatherings, such as: makerspaces, fab labs, MeetUps, hack days, barcamps, or unconferences. Florian Cramer reflects on this messy world in his essay ‘What Is “Post-Digital”?’ (Cramer 2014). What Cramer is pointing out in the essay is that the future as imagined by the tech-giants from the ‘90s — of a slick, smooth, cyber world didn’t materialise and in fact people have reacted against an over controlling digital landscape.

What the post-digital means for Open Science and academia is that the general public’s craving for the authentic and real can potentially be satisfied by what academia has to offer — its public spaces and the opportunity to get hands-on with its practices, collections, and to get access to its knowledge. This can be seen foremost in museums where collections are brought to life through outreach programmes which can combine mass online digitisation and engaged hands on practice with, for example — DIY 3D printing and photogrammetry.

Post-digital Community Science is also connected to the post-digital in society by a thread of anxiety about the future — whether to retreat or embrace the future. This is reflected in the interest of the public in climate change and environmental issues in Community Science as can be seen in the book Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy (Hecker et al. 2018), a very comprehensive publication on Citizen Science from UCL’s OA university press.


Florian Cramer is a reader in 21st Century Visual Culture/Autonomous Practices at Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam, Netherlands.


Ayris, Paul, Isabel Bernal, Valentino Cavalli, Bertil Dorch, Jeannette Frey, Martin Hallik, Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen, et al. 2018. ‘LIBER Open Science Roadmap’. Zenodo.

Cramer, Florian. 2014. ‘What Is “Post-Digital”?’ A Peer-Reviewed Journal About, Post-Digital Research, 3 (1).

Haklay, Muki. 2018. ‘Citizen Science for Observing and Understanding the Earth’. Po Ve Sham – Muki Haklay’s Personal Blog (blog). 29 January 2018.

Hecker, Susanne, Mordechai Haklay, Anne Bowser, Zen Makuch, Johannes Vogel, and Aletta Bonn. 2018. Citizen Science: Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy. London: UCL Press.