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Journal Articles Ecology and Evolution Year : 2023

Is ecology different when studied with citizen scientists? A bibliometric analysis


Ecology is broad and relies on several complementary approaches to study the mechanisms driving the distribution and abundance of organisms and their interactions. One of them is citizen science (CitSci), the co‐production of scientific data and knowledge by nonprofessional scientists, in collaboration with, or under the direction of, professional scientists. CitSci has bloomed in the scientific literature over the last decade and its popularity continues to increase, but its qualitative contribution to the development of academic knowledge remains understudied. We used a bibliometric analysis to study whether the epistemic content of CitSci‐based articles is different from traditional, non‐CitSci ones within the field of ecology. We analyzed keywords and abstracts of articles published in ecology over the last decade, disentangling CitSci articles (those explicitly referring to citizen science) and non‐CitSci articles. Keyword co‐occurrence and thematic map analyses first revealed that CitSci and non‐CitSci articles broadly focused on biodiversity, conservation, and climate change. However, CitSci articles did so in a more descriptive way than non‐CitSci articles, which were more likely to address mechanisms. Conservation biology and its links with socio‐ecosystems and ecosystem services was a central theme in the CitSci corpus, much less in the non‐CitSci corpus. The situation was opposite for climate change and its consequences on species distribution and adaptation, which was a central theme in the non‐CitSci corpus only. We only revealed subtle differences in the relative importance of particular themes and in the way these themes are tackled in CitSci and non‐CitSci articles, thus indicating that citizen science is well integrated in the main, classical research themes of ecology.
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hal-04232688 , version 1 (22-02-2024)





Bastien Castagneyrol, Baptiste Bedessem, Romain Julliard. Is ecology different when studied with citizen scientists? A bibliometric analysis. Ecology and Evolution, 2023, 13 (9), pp.e10488. ⟨10.1002/ece3.10488⟩. ⟨hal-04232688⟩
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