Citizen science is the practice of involving members of the public in collecting data and participating in data monitoring programs, generally in collaboration with professional scientists and researchers, but also with community-based organizations.1 There have been numerous calls for the collection of disaggregated data along multiple axes of identity during the current COVID-19 pandemic: calls to collect race-based data2; sex-disaggregated data3; data including Indigenous communities4; those who are differently-abled5; and those in the LTBTQI/2S community6; among others. Less well understood or addressed are the ways in which this kind of data collection fails to incorporate the social construction of race as a category7, the politics of collecting identity-disaggregated data8, the ways in which context can be stripped from datasets9, the effects of surveillance on populations and communities10, and how public citizens might be called into these activities on a voluntary basis11.
The calls to action around data collection seek to serve the various communities differently affected by COVID-19, to ensure services and funding reach them, that barriers to necessary services are addressed and lowered, and to understand and mitigate inequities exacerbated by a global public health crisis. How might citizen science operate in this space?12 As a mechanism designed to respect accessibility, collaboration, participation, and the inclusion of multiple communities, what can we understand about the application of citizen science beyond formal data collection activities?
1.) What organizations and tools exist to engage citizens in data collection activities useful for community-based organizations / academics / government?
2.) How are the concepts of intersectionality, race as a social construct, and anti-racism engaged in citizen science?
3.) Which initiatives are specifically connected to COVID-19 in the push to collect race-based / intersectional data to inform public health and public policy initiatives?
Over a period of 6 weeks from July 6th to August 17th, a team of 2-4 students will spend 7-10 hours each week to work collaboratively towards understanding and answering the research questions posed above. Students will not only survey the academic literature, but also organizational and government grey literature; technological interventions / apps / initiatives designed for citizen engagement in science; they will be encouraged to participate in relevant workshops; and will potentially be able to collaborate with a community organization seeking to better understand its informational goals and how data can be collected, organized, analyzed, and employed to better serve their community. Students will be asked to participate in weekly scheduled calls to ensure collaboration and accountability goals are defined and met.
At the end of the 6-week period, students will be asked to give a short 20-30 minute presentation to the Gender+ in Research Collective on their findings, how they relate to the defined research questions, and which opportunities they might have identified for connecting citizens with organizations or researchers seeking data. Students will be expected to produce a 7-10 page brief outlining their findings and including all relevant resources (providing their presentation in written form for future reference.) Students will also be asked to start a ‘guide’ for community organizations wishing to begin mobilizing citizen science in their work and informed by the concepts of intersectionality and evidence from other initiatives as explored throughout the research period.
The brief and guide provided by students will be made available on the Gender+ in Research Collective website and, with permission, will be disseminated to interested partners. We will work with the student group to determine the best way to amplify the work they have produced.
Please note this is a not-for-credit research opportunity. If you are interested in making this a student-directed study course, please contact email@example.com to discuss the process to explore this option.
Anti-Racism and Ethics of Engagement
The Gender+ in Research Collective and the Office for Regional and International Community Engagement (UBC ORICE) are committed to embedding anti-racism in our daily work and ongoing projects. Students are encouraged and expected to consider how they can take an anti-racist lens to the work they produce around citizen science, data collection and use, and connections between community-based organizations, academics, and government. This might include, but is not limited to, ensuring the incorporation of the ongoing and often unrecognized work of organizations advocating for justice for minorities, particularly during the pandemic; or engaging with the politics of citation in including and citing the work of non-white scholars and other researchers.
- Be an undergraduate student (domestic or international) at the University of British Columbia with 60 or more completed credits as of May 1st, 2020. (Recent grads are welcome to apply but priority will be given to current undergraduate students);
- Have access to a reliable internet connection and computer to collaborate with peers and attend all meetings remotely;
- Demonstrate ability to think critically and creatively
- Prior knowledge about citizen science, gender intersectionality, and community-based data collection initiatives an asset, but not necessary
How to apply
The deadline was June 28th, 2020 @ 11.59pm PST (extended from June 26th). We are no longer accepting applications.
Successful candidates contacted by: July 1st, 2020
Short interviews by: July 3rd, 2020
Project dates: July 6th, 2020- August 17th, 2020
Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
About the Gender+ in Research Collective:
The Gender+ in Research Collective works to promote a community for rich dialogue in which gender and other intersections, including race, Indigeneity, class, sexuality and ability (among other intersections of identity), are considered when conducting community-based research. The Collective focuses on capacity building and providing the tools researchers need to utilize a gender+ lens. The Collective is housed within and supported by the UBC Office for Regional and International Community Engagement (UBC ORICE).
1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_science; https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/citizen-science/; https://www.citizenscience.org/about-3/values/
2https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wPWZTexf9L-RPnGgxJ08sL5tTmi71iJu/view; https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-actively-discussing-collecting-race-based-data-on-covid-19-1.5543352; https://thetyee.ca/News/2020/04/30/Race-Matters-Pandemic-Data/
3 https://globalhealth5050.org/covid19/; https://www.devex.com/news/opinion-without-gender-data-we-leave-critical-covid-19-clues-on-the-table-97110; https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/covid-19-gender-data-resources-sarah-boyd/
5 https://www.casda.ca/covid-19-data-coordination-response/; https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/research-disabilities
6 https://www.hrc.org/blog/hrc-and-psb-research-release-data-on-economic-impact-of-covid-19-on-lgbtq; https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/researchers-scramble-to-inform-doctors-of-barriers-lgbtq-people-face-in-getting-covid-19-care-1.4913848; https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/lawmakers-urge-trump-administration-collect-data-lgbtq-covid-19-patients-n1211641
7 https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-its-impact-cannot-be-explained-away-through-the-prism-of-race-138046 ;
8 https://www.citylab.com/equity/2015/02/the-tragedy-of-canadas-census/385846/; https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/october-2018/the-role-of-statistics-canada-in-a-post-truth-world/
9 https://civicsoftwarefoundation.org/posts/structured-context-data-feminism; http://datafeminism.io
The Gender+ in Research Collective acknowledges that we organize, research, and learn on unceded traditional xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) territory. We understand that both gender and research have been used as tools of colonization on these lands, and commit to working towards disentangling gender+ research from colonialism and Indigenous genocide.