Earlier this April, the journal ‘Citizen Science: Theory and Practice’ published an article on “The Verification of Ecological Citizen Science Data: Current Approaches and Future Possibilities”. Its authors include Jo Judge, former CEO of the NBN Trust, and David Roy from the Biological Records Centre.
The six researchers systematically reviewed the approaches to verification across ecological citizen science schemes that feature in published research, aiming to identify the options available for verification, and to examine factors that influence the approaches used.
They reviewed 259 schemes and were able to locate verification information for 142 of these. Given that no information on data verification was found for over 40% of the schemes reviewed, the authors suggest that there is still an imperative to report on verification methods to increase trust in the dataset and to benefit end users of the data.
Reviewing the 142 schemes which do detail their data verification information, expert verification was most widely used, especially among longer-running schemes, followed by community consensus and automated approaches.
Expert verification has been the default approach for schemes in the past, but as the volume of data collected through citizen science schemes grows and the potential of automated approaches develops, many schemes might be able to implement approaches that verify data more efficiently.
The authors present an idealised system for data verification, in which the bulk of records are verified by automation or community consensus, and any flagged records can then undergo additional levels of verification by experts.
For more information, please read the full article in ‘Citizen Science: Theory and Practice’ by Emily Baker, Jonathan P. Drury, Johanna Judge, David B.Roy, Graham C.Smith and Philip A.Stephens.