Tracking science: An alternative for those excluded by citizen science

Louis Liebenberg, Am Ao, Marlize Lombard, Michael Shermer, Uase Xhukwe, Megan Biesele, Di Xao, Peter Carruthers, Oma Kxao, Sven Ove Hansson, Horekhwe Langwane, L. Mark Elbroch, Naisa Ui, Derek Keeping, Glynis Humphrey, Greg Newman, Ui Gaq'o, Justin Steventon, Njoxlau Kashe, Robert StevensonKarel Benadie, Pierre du Plessis, James Minye, Ui Kxunta, Bettina Ludwig, Oma Daqm, Marike Louw, Dam Debe, Michael Voysey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


In response to recent discussion about terminology, we propose "tracking science" as a term that is more inclusive than citizen science. Our suggestion is set against a post-colonial political background and large-scale migrations, in which "citizen" is becoming an increasingly contentious term. As a diverse group of authors from several continents, our priority is to deliberate a term that is all-inclusive, so that it could be adopted by everyone who participates in science or contributes to scientific knowledge, regardless of socio-cultural background. For example, current citizen science terms used for Indigenous knowledge imply that such practitioners belong to a sub-group that is other, and therefore marginalized. Our definition for "tracking science" does not exclude Indigenous peoples and their knowledge contributions and may provide a space for those who currently participate in citizen science, but want to contribute, explore, and/or operate beyond its confinements. Our suggestion is not that of an immediate or complete replacement of terminology, but that the notion of tracking science can be used to complement the practice and discussion of citizen science where it is contextually appropriate or needed. This may provide a breathing space, not only to explore alternative terms, but also to engage in robust, inclusive discussion on what it means to do science or create scientific knowledge. In our view, tracking science serves as a metaphor that applies broadly to the scientific community-from modern theoretical physics to ancient Indigenous knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalCitizen Science: Theory and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Citizen science
  • Citizenship
  • Immigration
  • Inclusive
  • Indigenous communities
  • Tracking science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Multidisciplinary


Dive into the research topics of 'Tracking science: An alternative for those excluded by citizen science'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this