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A methodology to carry out citizen science consultations

A methodology to carry out citizen science consultations

The article describes a deliberative citizen consultation made in the framework of the European CONCISE (Communication role on perception and beliefs of European Citizens about Science) project, which seeks to discuss and investigate the role of science communication in society.

04.05.2022

Imatge inicial

Researchers from the Centre of Studies on Science, Communication and Society (CCS-UPF), the University of Valencia and the University of Lodz (Poland) present a methodology for carrying out citizen consultations in an article published in Journal of Science Communication. The article describes a deliberative citizen consultation made in the framework of the European CONCISE (Communication role on perception and beliefs of European Citizens about Science) project, which seeks to discuss and investigate the role of science communication in society. Citizen consultations are mechanisms of public participation designed to inform and promote public debate.

The project aimed to gather qualitative knowledge about the means and channels (social media and networks, life experience, relatives, religion, political ideology and education system) through which European citizens acquire science-related knowledge, and how these influence their opinions and perceptions with respect to four socially relevant topics: vaccines, complementary and alternative medicine, genetically modified organisms, and climate change.

In 2019, the CONCISE project partners carried out citizen consultations in five European countries (Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Italy and Portugal) to explore nearly 500 citizens’ understanding of science communication, enabling the development of a standard for carrying out citizen consultations on science communication. The five consultations were organized in their respective countries following a standard format: one hundred citizens, selected to represent the diversity of their society, were gathered into small groups together with a moderator/facilitator to discuss an identical set of questions on four selected topics.

The project aimed to gather qualitative knowledge about the means and channels through which European citizens acquire science-related knowledge, and how these influence their opinions and perceptions with respect to four socially relevant topics: vaccines, complementary and alternative medicine, genetically modified organisms, and climate change.

The design of the consultation methodology sought to answer the following research questions: How are citizens informed about the four selected topics?, Which information sources do citizens consider “reliable” for each topic?, and How do citizens propose improving scientific communication regarding the four topics?

The consultations were also designed to provide a participatory experience for all the attendees. “In addition to seeking information, we also wished to offer citizens a unique opportunity to be empowered through actively participating and providing ideas for possible solutions”, Gema Revuelta comments.

Carolina Llorente, first author of the study, explains: “we present the methodology we have used and reflections to promote its replication in other contexts. It could be conducted in other countries, at another time (certainly the results that may arise in the focus groups on vaccines are different in the wake of the pandemic) or on other issues”.

“Based on these international experiences, we have developed and tested in a European context, a standard for conducting public consultation on science communication. We believe that thanks to this paper’s reflections, the replication, and even the improvement, of citizen consultations of this type can be promoted”, she concludes 

The CONCISE project consortium, led by the University of Valencia, comprises Trnava University  (Slovakia), the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon (Portugal) and the University of Lodz (Poland). Also involved were Observa Science in Society (Italy), the Spanish Association of Scientific Communication and the companies FyG Consultores (Spain) and Danmar Computers (Poland).

Reference article

Carolina Llorente, Gema Revuelta, Małgorzata Dzimińska, Izabela Warwas, Aneta Krzewińska, Carolina Moreno, "A standard for public consultation on science communication: the CONCISE project experience " JCOM. https://doi.org/10.22323/2.21030802.

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