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Hello and welcome! 👋🏻 🎉 Thanks for visiting and learning more about Public Lab’s organized research activities.

On this page, you’ll find information on Research Area Reviews, which are ways we work together to grow and organize shared knowledge on environmental topics at Public Lab.

Visit the research area review tag page to see the latest review-related posts on Public Lab, and get updates on reviews by following the #research-area-review tag:

Follow Research Area Review

Lead image by @mollydanielsson

What are research area reviews for?

Anyone can come to Public Lab to learn about an environmental topic and find information on accessible, do-it-together tools for investigating local environmental concerns.

Research Area Reviews aim to keep information on environmental topics up-to-date, organized, and useful for community scientists 🥽📝. There are already many fantastic resources on community science methods out there–our aim is to uncover, collect, build upon, and contextualize these resources so that people can see a pathway for researching their local environmental concern. If there are resources we think are important but can’t find, we sometimes also develop them. For more details, see “What happens during a review?

🎈 This is a collaborative project! Many people bringing their own lived and learned experiences on a topic leads to richer resources and conversations that more people can learn from.

💁🏽 And there are many ways to participate! Anyone can contribute while also building their own knowledge and experience on a topic. See “Join us” below for more!

What happens during a review?

The overall process for a Research Area Review roughly follows the outline below. They’re currently coordinated by @bhamster and a stellar team of Research Curation Fellows 👋🏽. We aim for a balance between structure to keep us on track and flexibility to enable all kinds of contributions and ideas to take shape.

Review process

Research Area Reviews currently happen every three months, cycling among the larger topics of air, water, land/soil, and organizing and advocacy. For each three-month review period, we choose an environmental topic to review under the larger topic for the quarter. In choosing a topic, we consider those that Public Lab community members are actively working on and topics that are in need of a little extra attention.

Kicking-off a review:

  • To start a review, we hold a public kick-off call to welcome people to the review process, talk about how to get involved, begin conversations about the review topic, and help shape the direction of the review.

During a review:

  • We surface and post questions on the topic by examining existing resources and listening to people working on the topic;
  • We talk with people to find answers to these questions;
  • We also talk with people to learn and document their experiences with the topic;
  • We research and post information on accessible methods and tools and their uses for community science;
  • We create step-by-step activities for getting started with community-led research on the topic;
  • We outline next step challenges in tool development and research on the topic;
  • We collect and organize these questions, activities, and other resources on a collaborative wiki page.

Wrapping up a review:

  • We hold a public event to share our findings, talk about remaining questions and ideas for next steps, and welcome anyone new to the refreshed resources;
  • We post a summary of the review, including links to updated resources, recordings of events, and shout-outs to all who contributed.

💡 If you’re interested in contributing to any part of this process, check out the contribution guidelines here!

Current research area review

Stay tuned for more information soon! In the meantime, check out our events calendar here and join an upcoming call to say hello ☎️

Past research area review events and summaries

A key part of a research area review is getting together to talk and connect with each other on a topic and relevant methods and tools! Below, you’ll find recordings from the most recent public events for a research area review, plus links to resources shared on the call and links to any summary posts.

March 31, 2022: Mine reclamation research area review

To wrap up our research area review on mine reclamation, we talked about various methods and resources that communities can and have been using in their monitoring and advocacy. Check out a summary of the review here.

Resources shared on the call:

Research area review archive

🗄️ Click here for a full archive of the research area reviews listed below, including video recordings and all links shared on the call.

December 13-17, 2021: Air Quality Data research area review

Click here to see this review in the archive

September 29, 2021: Wastewater research area review

Click here to see this review in the archive

June 30, 2021: Mapping for organizing & advocacy research area review

Click here to see this review in the archive

March 31, 2021: Soil contamination research area review

Click here to see this review in the archive

December 16, 2020: Air quality research area review

Click here to see this review in the archive

September 23, 2020: Microplastics research area review

Click here to see this review in the archive

Join us!

via giphy

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

If you’re interested in contributing to a review, please see our contribution guidelines here.

Questions? Want to learn more?

  • Drop into one of Public Lab’s weekly Open Calls to talk with us!
  • 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!

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