Citizens are at the center of the I-CHANGE project: they are the key actors but also the main beneficiaries. In I-CHANGE, we are building our research around citizen science methods. Citizen science is defined as the integration of citizen into scientific processes – meaning that citizens are engaged in data collection (e.g., with sensors such as home weather stations) or in the analysis of the data.
Within the project, our partner KAJO is observing global perceptions and trends of citizen science through social media analyses. Social media such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram are used by a broad range of people to share opinions, experiences, research results, upcoming events, and much more. Therefore, social media contents can be scraped to extract perceptions on different topics. In I-CHANGE, we focused on analyzing posts from Twitter to gain an understanding of current trends around climate change and citizen science but also to have a different point of view on people’s perceptions of risks derived from climate change and hydrometeorological hazards.
Social media scraping is based on text mining. Text mining algorithms enable the evaluation of social media posts. Text mining is widely used in social media analysis because of the vast amount of text available online including the huge number of posts being published around the world every day. One of the solutions that text mining offers is sentiment analysis, which can evaluate the feelings and opinions of discussions on certain topics such as citizen science.Through topic extraction, text mining can find patterns and dependencies of topics and hashtags. Moreover, through named entity recognition, it can identity certain entitites such as persons or organizations related to certain topics or categorize texts by location.
The word cloud illustrates the most recurrent topics in the Tweets scraped this summer about citizen science, which highlights that citizen science is an emerging approach in various research fields (e.g., biology, environment, coastal erosion, air pollution, health, conservation, and plastic pollution). The word cloud points out that citizen science is spatially linked to cities as well as to Europe and Australia. Commonly, citizens are involved via apps, surveys, or other tools. They may be students, young people, communities, or the public. Often communicated along citizen science are challenges, opportunities, and effects. In addition, it was highlighted to acknowledge participants and to connect. In the context of research, articles and projects are being publicized, time, scopes, and data (data quality and crowdsourced data) are discussed. Other important tokens and/or hashtags are citizen journalism, impact assessment, community science, and about citizen science.