Beaton receives Central Research Development Fund (CRDF) Award


The University Research Council of the University of Pittsburgh has selected Dr. Brian Beaton to receive a two-year Central Research Development Fund (CRDF) award to support “Creating A National Data Management Strategy for Citizen Science.” These Pitt grants are awarded to researchers to develop promising research ideas to a point suitable for submission to external funding agencies. With these funds, Dr. Beaton will investigate the history and culture of citizen science, with a focus on citizen science data practices and the unique data management challenges presented by such citizen science research. The term “citizen science” refers to the rapidly growing culture of collaborative scientific research being conducted on a voluntary basis. The ultimate goal of this exploratory research is to develop a national data management strategy for citizen science.

The notion that citizen science is a part of greater shifts in the culture, politics, economics and technology of scientific work is the starting point of this project. These shifts have been heavily informed by the growth of digital social media, social computing and crowdsourcing. Although there have been a number of published studies documenting citizen science projects in recent years, none address the unique data management challenges presented by citizen science activities. Furthermore, there is no consensus for standards to be applied to citizen science data and metadata, nor are there any reliable platforms or trusted repositories for the results of these citizen science research projects. In spite of many archival studies providing evidence that digital materials have an extremely short life span, many people commonly mistake digitization as a preservation strategy and make the incorrect assumption that digital materials are inherently stable.

This project complements ongoing research and teaching at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and aims to position Pitt as a recognized leader in citizen science research and citizen science data management. Dr. Beaton primarily researches data culture of the present-day, with an emphasis on citizen science. For additional information on Dr. Beaton, please see his homepage here.