Public Lab Wiki documentation

Contributing to Research Area Reviews

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Welcome and thank you for your interest in contributing to a Research Area Review! 🙋🏽🎉🎈

Research Area Reviews aim to keep information on environmental topics up-to-date, organized, and useful for community scientists. We want to enable anyone to learn about a topic and find information on accessible, do-it-together tools for investigating local environmental concerns.

On this page, you’ll find information on how to contribute to a review. For more information on the purpose of reviews and what happens during them, check out the Research Area Reviews general page here.

You can also receive updates on reviews by following the #research-area-review tag:

Follow Research Area Review

Lead image by @mollydanielsson

How to contribute to a Research Area Review

There are many ways to participate in a research area review. People with any level of experience or available time are welcome to join!

Whether you enjoy writing about science, tinkering with open hardware, or hosting events, there’s something for everyone during a review. Check out some example project roles and specific activities below. Some activities you can do pretty independently, and others work better with a group.

In any case, you’d be collectively working alongside other contributors, Public Lab’s Research Manager @bhamster, and a wonderful team of Research Curation Fellows 👋🏽

Anyone interested in contributing to a review should read and follow Public Lab’s Code of Conduct, which ensures a respectful space for everyone 💛

Research Area Reviews seek support with:

  • Researching and writing about the review topic for the Public Lab website
  • Organizing information about the review topic on the Public Lab website
  • Developing, testing, and/or comparing methods and tools related to the topic
  • Creating images, data visualizations, or drawings related to the topic
  • Organizing and hosting public events
  • Sharing stories as a guest speaker during public events
  • Organizing a research area review 😃 (eh? ehhh??)

Specific contribution activities:

Below are some examples of specific activities anyone can do to help with a research area review once a topic has been set.

Good activities for getting started

  • Sign up for free at and follow tags for topics that interest you
  • Follow the tags “research-area-review” and “event” to receive news on review topic announcements and public events you can join during the review period
  • Drop into an Open Call and talk with someone about the research area and ways to contribute
  • Apply “tags” to research notes, question posts, and wiki pages on so they’re connected and easy to find (find more on tags here)
  • Post a question related to the research area on
  • Answer a question related to the research area on by commenting on the post
  • Leave a comment to provide feedback on existing research notes or activities within the research area on

Getting more involved in a review

  • Try out an activity related to the review topic and share back how it went
  • Create a step-by-step activity related to the review topic
  • Post a research note comparing (or inviting others to compare) different community science tools for the review topic (example here)
  • Present a live build or demo of hardware related to the topic (example here)
  • Share your lived or learned experience with the review topic as a guest speaker during a public event
  • Invite, listen to, and record stories from people working within the research area

Communication channels

To coordinate and communicate about this work, we’ll:

  • Post on the Public Lab website,
  • Hold regularly-scheduled drop-in calls (and take shared notes during these calls), and
  • Use a running shared notes document to keep track of happenings.

More information on reviews

Check out our general wiki on research area reviews to see what topic we’re currently reviewing and what happens during a review.

Recognizing contributions

Your profile name is displayed with all your comments and posts anytime they appear on the Public Lab website 💁🏽📝

In addition, anyone who has contributed to a topic on will appear on the “Contributors” page for that topic. For example, here are people who have published posts, commented on posts, or edited wikis tagged with oil-and-gas:

screenshot showing a list of profile names who have contributed to and follow the topic oil and gas

And for research area reviews, at the end of the review period we post a research note summarizing the review and acknowledging everyone who contributed in any way ✨ (check out an example here)

screenshot showing a list of people who contributed to a research area review on air quality data

Questions or want to learn more?

  • Drop into one of Public Lab’s weekly Open Calls to talk with us!
  • Post a question on the Public Lab website
  • Email jeanette [at] publiclab [dot] org

Also please get in touch if you have ideas or suggestions for the Research Area Review process outlined on this wiki!

Thank you!

We hope you’ll join us in creating knowledge together! 💫📓💡

The documentation and organization of this project is heavily informed by the fantastic Open Leadership Framework from Mozilla