Best Practices, Resources, and Outcomes of Community Science
Community Science Exchange is a new platform, led by a coalition of partner societies, launched for sharing and expanding the reach of community science.
Interested in Contributing?
Submissions to the Community Science Exchange (the Hub) are welcome: project descriptions, resources, news, or items of any other kind that you think may fall within our scope. Please submit your content ideas using our inquiry form.
To submit research articles and commentaries to the peer-reviewed journal Community Science, please visit the Journal Submissions page. As a first step, we recommend sending a presubmission inquiry to [email protected].
Scope Statement for the Community Science Exchange
What is Community Science?
Community science is the equitable collaboration of science and research with communities aimed at outcomes for the benefit of communities and science. Work can be led by collaborative teams of researchers and community stakeholders or community-led.
Why the Community Science Exchange?
Community Science Exchange is being created to support and advance the diverse and growing group of people who do community science, to create a space for sharing community-relevant scientific results, and to disseminate and recognize the diverse outputs of community science. Since community science occurs across disciplines and among many stakeholders, Community Science Exchange spans numerous disciplines and expertise. The Community Science Exchange values academic knowledge and community experience, and shares both through the combination of an academic journal, Community Science, and the Community Science Exchange Hub, a space for anyone who does or is interested in community science to share their work, offer their insight, or learn from others. The combination of the journal and the Hub will allow voices that have for too long been quelled to share their research, tell their stories, help improve science, and co-create solutions to challenges faced by real communities.
Community Science will play a key role in the future of scientific discovery and the contributions science will make to addressing societal challenges - with and for all members of society. For this reason, seven leading societies, American Anthropological Association (AAA), the American Geophysical Union (AGU), American Meteorological Society (AMS), AAAS, American Public Health Association (APHA), Citizen Science Association (CSA), Ecological Society of America, and the Unión Geofísica Mexicana, with the further support and partnership of Wiley, are co-developing Community Science Exchange.
Community Science Exchange includes a journal, Community Science and the Community Science Exchange Hub. The journal Community Science will provide a peer-reviewed open-source academic venue for publishing work related to community science - work that often doesn’t have a home in other journals. The Community Science Exchange Hub will launch as a multimedia venue for people from all kinds of professional and community backgrounds to learn about, engage in, and share the processes, impressions, and results of community science. The Hub will host resources including case studies, guides, curricula, data-sets, blogs, videos, art, that illustrate the work of community science around the globe. As the Hub develops, networking and connecting features will help community leaders, practitioners, and researchers collaborate to further develop and share leading practices that will drive community science forward.
How do we define these concepts?
Definition of Community: We have an expansive definition of community. It can be a geographic community, a community of people sharing a common identity, a group of people who are sharing a common challenge (e.g., a rare disease), a community of people united by a common goal, etc. All of these communities are welcome, represented, and featured in the Community Science Exchange. Projects in which the links into communities are only shallow or superficial , for example, where people only contribute data to a science project or help with distributed analysis or computing without any meaningful interaction with other people who are doing the same are generally not covered in the Community Science Exchange.
Definition of Science: We also use an expansive definition of science. Here we include research done in social and natural sciences, engineering, public health, and other disciplines that can contribute to improving the understanding and applications of inclusive research efforts, as well as applications of science in communities and of community knowledge in input in science.
Community Science - A Deeper Dive: Community science recognizes that communities contribute to the science while researchers contribute to the community. Community science is a co-creative process through which both community representatives and researchers together frame questions to be investigated, challenges to be addressed, and how knowledge gained can be used and disseminated. Community science is also anticipated to contribute to the science, monitoring, or research issues associated with the problems being examined.
Community science addresses complex problems and is thus interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and intersectional by definition. It utilizes a variety of methods (e.g., observation, surveys, interviews, participatory and other forms of measurement, modeling and projection, cognitive science) as needed. An ethical responsibility of community science is to ensure that the results of a study/project are shared in appropriate formats and venues with all community stakeholders, and that its implications for action, or action steps required are understood. Community science recognizes community collaborations through joint authorship (if community representatives wish to be co-authors) and other recognition forms in the context of science communication, and community partners recognize scientists appropriately in their use of the results and problem solving. Community science inherently addresses issues of equity and justice by providing communities that have historically been disconnected or disenfranchised from science the ability to themselves help frame, carry out and use the results of research.
Scope of Community Science Exchange (Journal and Hub)
We welcome any materials (from anywhere in the world) that:
- Describe the results of community science,
- Describe methods used to conduct community science and/or offer guidance on how to engage in community science,
- Suggest practices and policies that advance community science,
- Provide resources that are demonstrably usable for doing community science,
- Depict the added value of the process and products of community science.
Examples that are in scope: a commentary on the policies or practices that advance community science; a summary of the outcomes of a community science project or conclusions derived via community science (where the community-science collaborative nature of the project is clearly described); scientific results that are tied to a well-documented community priority and presented in a community-science ready way; and resources for learning and teaching about community science.
Examples of what is out of scope: Reports from community science projects that don’t include a description of the community engagement process or community partners; studies of communities by scientists alone where the members of the community are more subjects in a participatory observation than collaborators in the research; projects, even community-based projects, without community co-leadership; scientific results that are produced by scientists for communities but don’t demonstrate community interest in or usability of the results; and reports from projects where the primary result or outcome is scientific, even if there is community participation.
Criteria for Inclusion in Community Science Journal and Exchange Hub
These criteria are for both the Journal and the Exchange Hub. “Yes” to all questions is required for inclusion in either. The next section will help you decide whether your potential contribution is a better fit for the journal or the exchange hub.
- Is the community clearly defined? Is the community different from a community of professional scientists or citizen scientists?
- Does the work described have a clearly identified and credible community outcome?
- Does the work clearly relate to a known community priority, challenge or issue?
- Was the work done in equitable collaboration with community members, led or co-led by community members, or conducted at the request of a local community or demonstrably readily usable in community-led applications?
- Are community members co-authors, or have community leaders indicated their approval for the work, their acknowledgment in it, and for sharing the work?
- Is the research sound?
- Is the work respectful and inclusive of community knowledge and values, including the diversity of knowledge and values in the community?
- Does the work demonstrate humility about science and respect for other ways of knowing and deciding?
- A project report from a citizen science project designed and led by scientists that classifies galaxies: NO, not a fit, because no clear link to a community priority, and no community participation. Good to refer to Citizen Science Theory and Practice.
- A project report from a group of participants that came together on a citizen science platform and created their own side project in collecting and analyzing images that they are interested in, and then made a discovery by themselves - YES, a good fit.
- A study of a community’s attitudes toward vaccines: NO, not a fit, because it is about a community, not with a community. It could be a fit if the community co-designed the study, or its role as part of a larger community health project with community leadership was well documented.
- An academic article or a non-academic blog documenting seismic activity near local hydraulic fracturing sites: NO, not a fit.
- A study of seismic activity near hydraulic fracturing sites with a description of how local community members participated in the study because of their interest in fracking: YES, great fit for Community Science. Encourage co-authorship or at least clear documentation of the participation of community leaders in all aspects of the project.
- A blog introducing a easy-to-use data set about seismic activity near hydraulic fracturing, written to address documented community queries and in a way that usable by community members: YES, encourage the authors to clearly document the community interest and usability and include that in review criteria (e.g. did authors clearly demonstrate community interest in these questions and are the results shared in ways that are facilitate community use?) Good for Exchange Hub.
- A personal reflection on the process of scientist-community group collaboration to investigate seismic activity related to hydraulic fracturing: YES Again, encourage shared authorship or, if community leaders aren’t interested in an author role, require their endorsement of the article.
- A paper about community science as one of many modes of engagement in citizen science: NO; Encourage submission to Citizen Science, Theory and Practice.
- A paper about best practices for community science in managing meningitis. NO; Encourage authors to consider publishing in a public health venue or explain how those process might link to practices that can be applied in several disciplines or demonstrate how these best practices have been utilized in collaboration with one or more communities to manage meningitis.
How do I submit content to the Journal or the Exchange Hub?
Fundamental Question: Who is the primary audience?
If the audience for your work includes researchers and academics, or if traditional peer-review of the work is important, you should submit it to the journal.
If the audience for your work is community leaders, people teaching, leading, or doing community science, community science instructors, people working with scientists and applying science in communities, people who work at the interface of community and science (sometimes called boundary spanners)-- submit to the Exchange Hub.
Submissions to the Exchange Hub may be related to papers submitted for review by the journal, or may stand alone as independent projects or activities. The most promising and exciting part of community science is in its active use by communities. Sharing materials, project descriptions or videos, toolkits, curricula, photo-documentation, blogs, etc. in the Community Science Exchange Hub is the best way to reach community leaders and community science practitioners and for communities to reach and exchange information with scientists. The Exchange Hub is also a place where community partners and knowledge generators can post their own work as long as it meets the Community Science Exchange criteria.
Paula R. Buchanan
Deputy Editor for the Journal
Instructor, Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA), Tulane University
American Geophysical Union