I generally lurk on here, but....Peter's question is excellent. The first response is....disingenuous to put it politely.

Seems to me to be a case of "you get what you pay for."  I think it is a horribly sad state of affairs that we do not have adequate funding to employ actual scientists to do the work, but then complain that what students and other volunteers produce is essentially garbage.

Full disclosure:  I am a college dropout.  Part of the reason for that was that I found the abstraction to be intolerable.  I was being asked to create ecosystem models, apply formulas, etc, which tore me away from the living, breathing organisms that got me excited about science in the first place.  I also experienced bullying, even by one professor, for finding excitement in discovering an insect under a board instead of a reptile or amphibian (on field trips).

You begin dissing volunteer work at our collective peril.  You should be glad that anyone takes an interest in trying to help.  So, let's indeed set some standards and get on with it.

End rant.

Eric R. Eaton
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Lead author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
http://bugeric.blogspot.com/
https://www.flickr.com/people/7519633@N08/


On Fri, Dec 20, 2019 at 2:50 PM Brower, Andrew V - APHIS <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Hmm.  It seems like the expectation/hope of this sort of crowd-sourced research is that if  you gather enough little bits of data, the truth will emerge, regardless of whether the individual pieces of evidence are mostly worthless. Kind of like next generation sequencing!

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From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Peter A Rauch <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, December 20, 2019 4:36:03 PM
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Citizen Science Ethics ?
 
Scientists have been providing "citizen science" (aka "community science" as NAS now refers to it) opportunities to participate in important ecological (and all sorts of other) research in recent years. Research-based "crowd-sourcing" may be considered a form of citizen science for the purposes of this message.

Volunteers are asked to donate their time, skills, knowledge, to become trained, and then observing, collecting, curating, processing, and otherwise contributing to formal ecological studies.

A recent personal experience, participating in a crowd-sourced application --which will remain anonymous, almost immediately raised the question of ethical / unethical engagement of volunteers in such projects.

What is the extent of the ethical responsibility of a principal investigator to assure that the project is actually able to use** the work product of the volunteers?

** E.g., Have the data processing and analysis protocols been implemented specific to this project's volunteer-generated data?

If so, should those methodologies be disclosed / demonstrated as proof of concept, to the volunteers?

If not developed and/or implemented (incl. testing, quality control, etc), should this information be clearly disclosed to prospective volunteers before they decide to donate their efforts to the project?

Has ESA addressed, and developed an ethics guideline for,  these sorts of "before we even begin to solicit and engage volunteer donations" concerns about a project's capacity to productively use those crowd-sourced, citizen-science, donations?

Should the proof that a project can use the crowd-sourced data be divulged in detail before the first volunteer is recruited?

Peter






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