Toward reinventing Institutional Review Boards (IRB) for Citizen Science - Side event

Toward reinventing Institutional Review Boards (IRB) for Citizen Science - Side event

Webpage of the event: here

Organizers: Libuše Hannah Vepřek and Pietro Michelucci

Date and Time:
Friday, September 11th, 2020
9-10am ET/ 3-4pm CEST

Location: Zoom

REGISTER HERE by September 10th

Institutional/Ethical Review Boards (IRB/ERB) play an important role in ensuring ethical compliance in research projects and that human subjects are protected. Citizen science, however, introduces a gray area for traditional IRB requirements because of the many new ways in which  members of the general public can now engage in the scientific process.

These new engagement modalities along with new ethical considerations may not have been considered in the original conception of IRB, which was geared primarily toward medical research and protecting human subjects from physical harm.

Therefore, this one-hour virtual workshop aims at identifying the moral underpinnings of online citizen science and establishing relevant and actionable ethical guidelines. To kick off an open discussion, we would like to share findings from our recent engagement with an IRB on a citizen science application.

We are inviting interested members of our community as well as citizen science participants themselves to join our discussion on the moral  underpinnings of citizen science participation. The topics we wish to address go beyond assessing and eliminating risk, beginning at the root issue of identifying community morals upon which an ethical framework could be developed. After exploring ethical considerations, we would like to begin formulating a decision tree that could guide citizen science developers through the process of evaluating ethical issues to  help decide whether and how to seek ethical review and consultation.

Don’t wait for the event, join the forum discussion now!

The goal of our workshop is to have an open discussion on the moral underpinnings of citizen science and we would like to hear as many of your voices as possible! Since we have a time restriction of one hour we have decided to open the discussion in advance of the workshop in a dedicated section of the Human Computation Institute’s forum, called “Citizen Science Ethics”:

Please join the forum to express your opinion about the role that morals should play in Citizen Science and related questions, or raise a new question!


1. Brief Introduction and Agenda (Pietro Michelucci)

2. 5-minute talks:  

  • Libuše Hannah Vepřek: “Ethics and Morality in Scientific Research – The Special Case of Citizen Science”    
  • Patricia Seymour: “Ethical oversight in the independent, regulatory review of Citizen Science Projects” 
  • Caren Cooper: “Establishing Norms of Data Ethics in Citizen Science”
  • Pietro Michelucci: “Integrating Ethical Review for Citizen Science”

3. Plenum Discussion

Caren Cooper is an associate professor of public science at North Carolina State University and author of _Citizen Science: How Ordinary People Are Changing the Face of Discovery_. She carries out environmental research with data from citizen science projects and social science research about citizen science. She is dedicated to training and mentoring students to become public scientists so they can pursue careers that weave science into the fabric of society.   

Pietro Michelucci leads the Human Computation Institute and is a visiting scientist at Cornell University.  He has supported the emergence of human computation as a formal discipline through a Springer handbook, an open-access scholarly journal, and a 3-day Summit, which produced a national research roadmap. He leads the Stall Catchers citizen science project, which accelerates Alzheimer's research, and recently launched a new initiative called Civium, a data science ecosystem geared toward advancing hybrid intelligence research and applications.

Patricia Seymour Patricia Seymour has over 25 years of experience in research and IRB administration. She has worked as a Director, Human Subject Protections at several Universities and academic medical centers. She has also worked for independent IRBs. In her career, she has started 5 new IRBs in various settings. She is currently a consultant and board member at several universities.

Libuše Hannah Vepřek is a PhD candidate and research assistant at the Institute of European Ethnology and Cultural Analysis at the Ludwig-Macimilians-Universität in Munich, Germany. Currently, she’s an intern at the Human Computation Institute exploring Ethics in the field of online Citizen Science to better understand symbolic meanings and motivations among all stakeholders to steer the developments in directions we prefer.