When Citizens Do Science: Stories from Labs, Garages, and Beyond

Narrat Inq Bioeth. 2019;9(1):1-4. doi: 10.1353/nib.2019.0001.


This symposium brings together, for the first time, a series of personal narratives about participation in citizen science and an array of commentaries highlighting the novel ethical, societal, scientific, philosophical, and policy implications these narratives reveal. This symposium includes twelve personal narratives from individuals who consider themselves to have engaged in citizen science, ranging from individual self-experimentation to the coordination of massive, even international, contributions to health and environmental research. The issue also includes three commentaries on these narratives by experts in human subject research, the philosophy of science, and rhetoric and communication in citizen science. Given the many ways in which this kind of work challenges our conventional categories of regulation, law, ethics, and even the conceptualization of who counts as a "scientist" or what counts as "research," this symposium offers concrete examples that we hope will inform and encourage multidisciplinary discussion. Not only will these discussions aid citizen science in establishing ethical structures, they will undoubtedly also offer novel perspectives for reconsidering existing structures.