Master thesis topic: Citizen science – transforming research?

20 May, 2019

Are you interested to get involved in the exciting EU-research project ACTION and contribute to making citizen science more participatory and inclusive? Write your master thesis under supervision of our experts!
Science and research are at a crossroad. Some claim we live in a ‘post truth’ era, which raises questions about the legitimacy and trustworthiness of knowledge, while the science system is solely inwardly oriented towards scientific (rather than societal) quality criteria. At the same time, in response to the ever more pressing call for societal relevance of scientific knowledge, knowledge creation approaches that blur the boundaries between science and society are increasingly being put on the agenda and gain legitimacy. These approaches – whether transdisciplinary research or action research –have the potential to democratise knowledge production while addressing pressing societal challenges.
Lately, also citizen science is resurging as a way to tap into societal knowledge and integrate it into scientific knowledge co-production. Activities in citizen science range from measuring air pollution in your own neighborhood to discovering a new planet by inspecting telescope images online. Conceptually, citizen science refers to the “general public engagement in scientific research activities when citizens actively contribute to science either with their intellectual effort or surrounding knowledge or with their tools and resources”[1]. Citizen scientists are no longer only involved in data collection – increasingly they are gaining a stronger stance in also analysing data, or formulating research problems and questions.
Master Thesis topic
DRIFT is member of the EU project called ACTION, which investigates how to make citizen science more participatory and inclusive. As part of this engagement we can host a Master Thesis candidate interested in pursuing topics such as the following:

  • establishing the current state of citizen science in the Netherlands, especially its policy relevance (also possible as a cross-country comparative study);
  • taking stock of activities (incl. range of tasks, data quality, attracting and motivating volunteers, sustaining activities and increasing their impact) and toolkits with a focus on establishing their transformative potential and providing recommendations for increasing this potential;
  • mapping the different approaches to citizen science, including their narratives about societal change and what they mean in terms of (changing) power relations between societal actors and democratisation of science.

Contact Details
If you are interested, please do not hesitate to contact us (vacancy open until December 2019).
[1] Sanz et al. 2014;