Exploring the actions of citizens as scientists through experimentation with aquaponics
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 21:02 authored by Ria Follett
Scientists are increasingly collaborating with citizens to engage in science where, on their own, they lack the resources to collect or analyse the data. In most of these collaborative projects, citizens can be classified as science assistants, helping scientists in their endeavours. While this can produce significant benefits for both the citizen and the scientist, the question arises as to the extent that citizens can contribute to all aspects of the scientific process. This thesis explores how citizens contribute to scientific discovery by experimenting at home in aquaponics systems. Aquaponics allows fish and plants to be grown together providing fresh, locally grown vegetables and fish to homes and communities. Despite the core principles being well known, most systems are independently designed by individuals and show high levels of innovation. There is significant scope for learning how system design, location and other factors affect the success of these systems. The question arises as to whether these innovators are able to join together to research this area by providing detailed on-line data that tracks their system progress as well as analysing the collected dataset, proposing hypotheses, and resolving them based on the available data. From an aquaponics point of view, this was the first systematic study of how home based systems, which comprise of 86% of all aquaponics systems, performed, informs the home aquaponics industry and provides data for future analysis. From a citizen science point of view, this study investigates the key question as to how citizens contributed to science. The ways the citizens research was compared and contrasted with the way scientists researched in the field of aquaponics, providing insights into areas that need further consideration when endeavouring to involve citizens in all aspects of scientific research.