INVITATION: Translating Citizen Science Tools: Potential, Challenges and Future Directions

  • DATE

    27 May

  • TIME

    14:00 - 15:00



“Citizen science” is scientific research conducted, partly or wholly, by amateur or non-professional community volunteer scientists. Increasingly, citizen science projects are gaining attention – but the path forward is not even. One question challenging any citizen science tool is: Is it user-friendly and user-appropriate?

Language itself forms an important barrier to effective participation in ecological citizen science initiatives. This study explores the opportunities and difficulties in translating the mini-South African Scoring System (miniSASS) biomonitoring citizen science tool.

The miniSASS utilises the composition of sampled riverine macroinvertebrates in the determination of prevailing river health conditions. The miniSASS was simplified to enable execution by non-professionals but a signal gap remained. No attempt has thus far been made to translate the tool to the native languages of its intended users. Even though previous audits suggested that the miniSASS needs to be translated into other South African official languages, currently, the tool exists solely in English.

Our investigation reveals that folk nomenclature and taxonomy for aquatic macroinvertebrates are mostly poorly documented – and, where documented, they are not standardized. This gives rise to an appreciable risk. Unless multidisciplinary initiatives are commissioned to preserve this knowledge, and to start utilising it along with modern scientific approaches in finding solutions to environmental degradation, we risk losing a wealth of knowledge that for centuries has served, educated and entertained indigenous southern African communities.

Date: 27 May 2021

Time: 14:00-15:00

Venue: Zoom link to be emailed

RSVP: By 20 May 2021 to

Enquiries: Penelope Mdluli at [email protected]

Tel: 012 420 3771

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