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Citizen science or scientific citizenship? Disentangling the uses of public engagement rhetoric in national research initiatives

Overview of attention for article published in BMC Medical Ethics, June 2016
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • One of the highest-scoring outputs from this source (#10 of 672)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (97th percentile)

Mentioned by

blogs
3 blogs
twitter
109 tweeters
facebook
2 Facebook pages

Citations

dimensions_citation
66 Dimensions

Readers on

mendeley
123 Mendeley
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Title
Citizen science or scientific citizenship? Disentangling the uses of public engagement rhetoric in national research initiatives
Published in
BMC Medical Ethics, June 2016
DOI 10.1186/s12910-016-0117-1
Pubmed ID
Authors

J. Patrick Woolley, Michelle L. McGowan, Harriet J. A. Teare, Victoria Coathup, Jennifer R. Fishman, Richard A. Settersten, Sigrid Sterckx, Jane Kaye, Eric T. Juengst

Abstract

The language of "participant-driven research," "crowdsourcing" and "citizen science" is increasingly being used to encourage the public to become involved in research ventures as both subjects and scientists. Originally, these labels were invoked by volunteer research efforts propelled by amateurs outside of traditional research institutions and aimed at appealing to those looking for more "democratic," "patient-centric," or "lay" alternatives to the professional science establishment. As mainstream translational biomedical research requires increasingly larger participant pools, however, corporate, academic and governmental research programs are embracing this populist rhetoric to encourage wider public participation. We examine the ethical and social implications of this recruitment strategy. We begin by surveying examples of "citizen science" outside of biomedicine, as paradigmatic of the aspirations this democratizing rhetoric was originally meant to embody. Next, we discuss the ways these aspirations become articulated in the biomedical context, with a view to drawing out the multiple and potentially conflicting meanings of "public engagement" when citizens are also the subjects of the science. We then illustrate two uses of public engagement rhetoric to gain public support for national biomedical research efforts: its post-hoc use in the "care.data" project of the National Health Service in England, and its proactive uses in the "Precision Medicine Initiative" of the United States White House. These examples will serve as the basis for a normative analysis, discussing the potential ethical and social ramifications of this rhetoric. We pay particular attention to the implications of government strategies that cultivate the idea that members of the public have a civic duty to participate in government-sponsored research initiatives. We argue that such initiatives should draw from policy frameworks that support normative analysis of the role of citizenry. And, we conclude it is imperative to make visible and clear the full spectrum of meanings of "citizen science," the contexts in which it is used, and its demands with respect to participation, engagement, and governance.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 109 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 123 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 123 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 20 16%
Researcher 17 14%
Student > Master 13 11%
Student > Doctoral Student 8 7%
Other 4 3%
Other 15 12%
Unknown 46 37%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Social Sciences 21 17%
Medicine and Dentistry 12 10%
Computer Science 9 7%
Environmental Science 8 7%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 4 3%
Other 19 15%
Unknown 50 41%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 83. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 05 August 2017.
All research outputs
#247,132
of 15,280,296 outputs
Outputs from BMC Medical Ethics
#10
of 672 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#7,666
of 268,089 outputs
Outputs of similar age from BMC Medical Ethics
#1
of 1 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 15,280,296 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 98th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 672 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 14.5. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 98% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 268,089 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 1 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than all of them