Recruitment, retention, and training of citizen scientists in translational medicine research: a citizen science initiative on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Article


Shah, S., Barrado-Martín, Y., Marjot, T., Tomlinson, J. and Kiparoglou, V. 2024. Recruitment, retention, and training of citizen scientists in translational medicine research: a citizen science initiative on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Cureus: Journal of Medical Science. 16 (3). https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.56038
TypeArticle
TitleRecruitment, retention, and training of citizen scientists in translational medicine research: a citizen science initiative on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
AuthorsShah, S., Barrado-Martín, Y., Marjot, T., Tomlinson, J. and Kiparoglou, V.
Abstract

Citizen science is a participatory science approach in which members of the public (citizens) collaborate with scientists and professional researchers and become involved in research and innovation activities, resulting in the co-creation of scientific knowledge and innovation. Citizen science has been widely applied in research, particularly in the social sciences, environmental sciences, information and communication technologies, and public health. However, the application of this approach in clinical sciences, particularly in translational medicine research, is still nascent. This exploratory study involved members of the public (citizen scientists) in a translational medicine experiment on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that incorporated a lifestyle and weight-loss intervention. The aim of this paper is to report successful methods and approaches for the recruitment, retention, and training of citizen scientists. For the citizen scientists’ recruitment, online calls placed on the websites of our research project and biomedical research center and targeted emails were the most helpful. Of the 14 members of the public who expressed interest in our study, six were recruited as citizen scientists. Citizen scientists were mostly female (n = 5, 83%), white (n = 3, 50%), over 50 years of age (n = 4, 67%), educated to postgraduate level (n = 5, 83%), and either retired or not in employment (n = 5, 83%). The retention rate was 83% (n = 5), and the dropout rate was 17% (n = 1). We arranged instructor-led interactive online training sessions (an hour-long one-on-one session and two-hour group sessions). Research skills training covered ethics in research and qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Citizen scientists were given several incentives, such as reimbursement of travel and care costs, selection as citizen scientists of the month, publications of their blogs and perspective articles, and co-authorship and acknowledgement in papers and project deliverables. To conclude, members of the public (particularly middle-aged white women with postgraduate education) are interested in becoming citizen scientists in translational medicine research. Their retention rate is higher, and they can contribute to different research activities. However, they need training to develop their research skills and expertise. The training should be simple, comprehensive, and flexible to accommodate the schedules of individual citizen scientists. They deserve incentives as they work on a voluntary basis.

Sustainable Development Goals3 Good health and well-being
Middlesex University ThemeHealth & Wellbeing
PublisherSpringer
JournalCureus: Journal of Medical Science
ISSN
Electronic2168-8184
Publication dates
Online12 Mar 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted12 Mar 2024
Deposited25 Mar 2024
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Copyright Statement

© Copyright 2024 Shah et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License CC-BY 4.0., which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.56038
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