Public participation in scientific research: A framework for deliberate design

Jennifer L. Shirk, Heidi L. Ballard, Candie C. Wilderman, Tina Phillips, Andrea Wiggins, Rebecca Jordan, Ellen McCallie, Matthew Minarchek, Bruce V. Lewenstein, Marianne E. Krasny, Rick Bonney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

844 Scopus citations


Members of the public participate in scientific research in many different contexts, stemming from traditions as varied as participatory action research and citizen science. Particularly in conservation and natural resource management contexts, where research often addresses complex social-ecological questions, the emphasis on and nature of this participation can significantly affect both the way that projects are designed and the outcomes that projects achieve. We review and integrate recent work in these and other fields, which has converged such that we propose the term public participation in scientific research (PPSR) to discuss initiatives from diverse fields and traditions. We describe three predominant models of PPSR and call upon case studies suggesting that-regardless of the research context-project outcomes are influenced by (1) the degree of public participation in the research process and (2) the quality of public participation as negotiated during project design. To illustrate relationships between the quality of participation and outcomes, we offer a framework that considers how scientific and public interests are negotiated for project design toward multiple, integrated goals. We suggest that this framework and models, used in tandem, can support deliberate design of PPSR efforts that will enhance their outcomes for scientific research, individual participants, and social-ecological systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Citizen science
  • Community-based monitoring
  • Conservation
  • Outcomes
  • Participation
  • Public
  • Volunteer monitoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Public participation in scientific research: A framework for deliberate design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this