In September we introduced Ben Brown, a BBSRC-funded PhD student joining the NBN for a three-month internship. Having started last week, the project is now underway and ready to receive responses from across the recording community.
The project seeks to improve our understanding of biological recorders from two angles: assessment of recording habits in wider life context, plus personal accounts covering recorders’ initial interest and subsequent development. The insights gained will be made available to the network as a resource when mobilising new volunteers and supporting existing ones.
The importance of recorder motivation is widely recognised (including by the NBN Strategy 2015 – 2020) but existing studies emphasise no ‘one size fits all’ solution, reflecting a diverse range of circumstances and perspectives. Furthermore, citizen science is known to work best when organisations support the goals and activities of those collecting the data; this can only happen if their perspectives are heard and understood.
Biological recording is changing, and recorders’ experiences are likely to evolve too as they develop expertise. By using focussed questionnaires and informal interviews then, Ben is addressing two questions: “How can we classify the different influences and motives of recorders?”, and “How can we identify and support their needs as they progress beyond initial involvement?”.
The questionnaire takes no more than 30 minutes to complete and awaits your responses here. It measures recording habits along with free time constraints / preferences, attitudes toward conservation and the environment, and social factors. By focussing on quantifiable answers within a specific ‘snapshot’ (last 12 months), a solid picture of different groups should be possible with enough responses. If you prefer to download a PDF to complete and return it to us either by post or email then please download it here
Telephone interviews will last no more than an hour, and questionnaire respondents are invited to leave details if they wish to be contacted. They are intended to be informal and ‘semi-structured’ around an opening “tell me how you first started recording onward”. By gathering broad narratives in recorders’ own words, there is flexibility to capture themes which are important to you – aspects which were rewarding or challenging; your viewpoint on the shifting ecological ‘scene’; what would (or would have) helped you record.
It’s important that the project is as representative as possible, so if you’ve got a spare moment – or you know someone else who collects and submits records – every response counts. And if you’d also like to contribute your voice via an interview, your perspective could inform how recorders are approached in future.