More than Crowdsourcing Science: The Reasons for Museum Citizen Science Programs and how and why they Change
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This exploratory research study seeks to identify reasons why museums begin citizen science programming, why they continue to do citizen science, and how and why their programs have changed over time. Citizen science is a growing program area for museums, and yet there is little research examining the role and purpose of these programs from the perspective of museums. Within the context of a purposive sample of eight diverse science museums, three methods were employed to collect data including surveys, interviews, and document analysis. Results suggest three major conclusions. First, the museums studied here reported various institutional benefits from offering citizen science programs, for example museums now use these programs to appeal to donors, to seek grant funding, to build relationships with professional scientists, and to raise awareness of the museum and its mission. Second, the citizen science programs in this sample were highly adaptable. Museums used these programs to meet local needs such as environmental monitoring and resource protection. Third, results suggest that citizen science programs in museums are situated at the intersection of research and education, and as such may have the potential to unite disparate efforts to achieve larger institutional goals.
- Museology