News Release

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation awards $500,000 grant to Commons Lab to promote citizen science

Funding will help maximize the impact of citizen science on research and public policy

Grant and Award Announcement

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars/Science and Technology Innovation Program

WASHINGTON - The Commons Lab of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has received a two-year, $500,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to continue its work on citizen science, particularly by supporting standardized data and metadata collection and encouraging the use of citizen science by federal agencies.

The Commons Lab seeks to mobilize public participation in science, technology and policy through innovative tools like citizen science and crowdsourcing. The Sloan Foundation grant will allow the Commons Lab to work with partner organizations like SciStarter and to help citizen science projects collect and share standardized information by building a database of citizen science tools and developing a platform to help support observational data sharing.

This grant also supports a new partnership between the Commons Lab and the General Services Administration to maintain and build upon crucial support for citizen science expressed by the Obama administration, including the September 2015 memorandum from Dr. John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The memo outlined principles and next steps to encourage the use of citizen science and crowdsourcing by federal agencies.

"The citizen science community is rapidly growing, but also diversifying," says Anne Bowser, co-director of the Commons Lab. "Through standardized data collection and sharing, projects developed in a local context can share data with other citizen scientists to support research and help shape policy on a national or even global scale. With its rich history of supporting innovative science and technology, the Sloan Foundation is an ideal sponsor for this work."

"The Commons Lab's technical know-how, regulatory expertise, and high standing in both the scientific and policymaking communities make it uniquely suited to facilitate the adoption and institutionalization of citizen science as a research tool," says Joshua M. Greenberg, Director of the Sloan Foundation's Digital Information Technology program. "The Sloan Foundation is excited to support these efforts to unlock the full potential of the large and growing citizen science community."

In recent months, the Commons Lab has compiled a database of federal citizen science and crowdsourcing projects, developed a legal and policy widget for federal agencies looking to develop citizen science projects despite complex regulations, and released a report looking at the legal and intellectual property issues surrounding federal citizen science and crowdsourcing project.


About the Commons Lab

The Commons Lab provides independent and rigorous analysis of emerging technologies, networks and methods that mobilize public participation in science, technology and policy. The Commons Lab focuses its attention on issues, such as the development of hardware and software, and the governance and ethical considerations of public participation, which affect numerous organizations across different sectors like the environment, basic and applied scientific research and international development. For more information, please see:

About the Wilson Center

The Wilson Center provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world. For more information, please see:

About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grantmaking institution that supports original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economic performance. Funds for this project were provided through the Foundation's Digital Information Technology program, which leverages developments in information technology to increase the effectiveness of computational research and scholarly communication. For more information, please see:

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