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WTimpact: The influence of collaborative knowledge development on attitudes and emotions

Working groupKnowledge Construction Lab
FundingFederal Ministry of Education and Research
Project description

Whether it is record disks, pay back points, or garden gnoms: More than 50% of the citizens in Germany collect something. In so-called Citizen Science projects, citizens are increasingly collecting data about e.g. wildlife. Yet, little was known so far about the success factors of these projects. Therefore, the aim of the WTimpact project was to investigate how to optimally design Citizen Science projects.

Scientists and citizens are increasingly working together which is called Citizen Science. Citizen Science projects should help scientists gather data and information. Simultaneously, these projects should also help citizens gather knowledge about the research topic and scientific research process.

Until now, little was known about the influence of Citizen Science projects on its participants. Therefore, this research project “WTimpact: Collaborative knowledge creation as transfer instrument – from knowledge transfer to knowledge exchange” aimed to learn more about such influences. These new findings were intended to help design Citizen Science projects so that participants profit optimally from them.

The subproject of the IWM investigated (1) how citizen scientists have experienced their participation in the Best-Practice examples (monitoring of terrestrial mammals and bats, and air quality in the city), (2) how citizen scientists have perceived these topics, and (3) what citizen scientists have taken home from their participation. Questionnaires were first developed and then tested in field studies as well as laboratory studies. The laboratory studies showed that a high degree of participation elicited ownership (i.e., the feeling to own the project) and, thereby, increased intentions to participate in Citizen Science projects. They also demonstrated that compassion for distressed wildlife increased future participation intentions. The whole joint research project developed a transfer instrument together, that is, an online platform. Finally, the findings from all subprojects were combined and recommendations for the application of the transfer instrument in other knowledge contexts were formulated at the end of the project.


Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research

Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education

Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research


Bruckermann, T., Greving, H., Schumann, A., Stillfried, M., Börner, K., Kimmig, S. E., Hagen, R., Brandt, M., & Harms, U. (2023). Scientific reasoning skills predict topic‐specific knowledge after participation in a citizen science project on urban wildlife ecology. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 60(9), 1915-1941. Open Access

Greving, H., Bruckermann, T., Schumann, A., Stillfried, M., Börner, K., Hagen, R., Kimmig, S. E., Brandt, M., & Kimmerle, J. (2023). Attitudes toward engagement in citizen science increase self-related, ecology-related, and motivation-related outcomes in an urban wildlife project. BioScience, 73(3), 206-219. [Data] Open Access

Bruckermann, T., Greving, H., Stillfried, M., Schumann, A., Brandt, M., & Harms, U. (2022). I’m fine with collecting data: Engagement profiles differ depending on scientific activities in an online community of a citizen science project. PLOS ONE, 17(10), Article e0275785. [Data] Open Access

Greving, H., Bruckermann, T., Schumann, A., Straka, T. M., Lewanzik, D., Voigt-Heucke, S. L., Marggraf, L., Lorenz, J., Brandt, M., Voigt, C. C., Harms, U., & Kimmerle, J. (2022). Improving attitudes and knowledge in a Citizen Science project about urban bat ecology. Ecology and Society, 27(2), Article 24. [Data] Open Access

Bruckermann, T., Greving, H., Schumann, A., Stillfried, M., Börner, K., Kimmig, S. E., Hagen, R., Brandt, M., & Harms, U. (2021). To know about science is to love it? Unraveling cause–effect relationships between knowledge and attitudes toward science in citizen science on urban wildlife ecology. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 58(8), 1179-1202. Open Access

Greving, H., & Kimmerle, J. (2021). You poor little thing! The role of compassion for wildlife conservation. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 26(2), 115-131.

Straka, T. M., Greving, H., & Voigt, C. C. (2021). The effects of bat photographs on emotions, attitudes, intentions, and wildlife value orientations. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 26(6), 596-603. request document

Greving, H., & Kimmerle, J. (2020). Better to be informed: Threatening bats increase recall of information. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 25(1), 94-99.

Greving, H., Bruckermann, T., & Kimmerle, J. (2020). This is my project! The influence of involvement on psychological ownership and wildlife conservation. Current Research in Ecological and Social Psychology, 1, Article 100001. Open Access