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During the fall of 2013, organizations supporting citizen science convened in Albuquerque, NM and Philadelphia, PA to discuss how to best share information about the growing number of citizen science, or public participation in scientific research (PPSR), projects. These early meetings were supported by the DataONE PPSR Working Group and SciStarter. Attendees represented databases of citizen science projects compiled by SciStarter,, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Wilson Center.

These organizations reached a landmark agreement - to share basic information across databases that catalog citizen science projects. The collaborative success for citizen science and PPSR led to the development of an initial PPSR-Core project metadata protocol (Appendix A). Sharing information across databases maximizes everyone’s efforts, getting more “bang for the buck” out of information about citizen science projects everywhere. It leads to current, up-to-date, synchronized project lists and promotes a broader understanding of the global practice of citizen science.

In July 2015, these partners convened at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC along with members of the growing Federal Community of Practice for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science (CCS). As one result of the meeting, consensus was reached around seven “core” or required fields to support data sharing between SciStarter,, the Wilson Center’s Federal Catalog, and other databases. The July 2015 meeting also produced a list of optional and in-progress fields that still needed refinement.

Also in July 2015, members of CSA, the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA), and the Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA) met to discuss citizen science data standardization and interoperability at the first ACSA conference in Canberra, Australia. Members of these associations agreed that any effort to develop and promote data and metadata standards for citizen science should be global in scope. Meeting attendees also recognized that while the initial PPSR-Core data sharing protocol was developed to share information about citizen science projects, a mature version of PPSR-Core should also help organizations share citizen science datasets and data.

Members of CSA, ECSA, and ACSA jointly proposed a CSA Data and Metadata WG with these goals in mind. In November 2015, CSA formally approved the Data and Metadata WG Charter. Also around this time a memorandum4 issued by Dr. John Holdren, Director of the US White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), instructed executive branch agencies to “develop the metadata requirements” for a federal catalog of crowdsourcing and citizen science projects. This memorandum helped engage the Federal Community of Practice for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science (CCS) in developing project metadata for an expanded version of the catalog hosted by the Wilson Center.

In 2016, the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) invited 20 international participants, including members of the three associations, to Ispra, Italy for a workshop to discuss data and service infrastructures for citizen science. Participants were asked to: (1) discuss the relationships between existing databases; (2) identify major requirements for interoperability between citizen science project databases, including a new database to be hosted by the European Commission; (3) draft a reference model for analyzing and sharing citizen science tools and data; and, (4) define a high-level roadmap with checkpoints for synchronizing ongoing activities related to standardization. This meeting led to an initial list of key projects for the working group.

During the 2018 European Citizen Science conference in Geneva, Switzerland, a workshop was held in which matters relating to governance of citizen science data and metadata standards, in particular the PPSR-Core, were discussed. This resulted in the group collectively discussing and making amendments to a draft document tabled by Luigi Ceccaroni, and it's subsequent publishing as the "Geneva Declaration on Citizen Science Data and Metadata Standards".

Amongst other things, this document provides a consensus basis for the establishment of a Governance Committee for the PPSR-Core, as well as the initial membership of that Committee and some broad general principles for consideration of amendments to the PPSR-Core standard. However, it does not go further to deal with the operating and decision-making frameworks by which the Committee should operate, including how to authorize amendment proposals into the canonical version of the standard. Some of these matters have since been addressed through collaborative discussions of the Working Group.

The above content is largely taken from the introductory chapter of Bowser A., Brenton P., Stevenson R., Newman G., Schade S., Bastin L., Parker A. and Oliver, J. (2017) [“Citizen Science Association Data &Metadata Working Group: Report from CSA and Future Outlook.”(] Workshop Report. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC, 2017.

Last updated on by BBudnicki