As scientific work, citizen science results should be made available through and follow the open science recommendations for research visibility in science. These recommendations are based on the assumption that science results made freely available to the scientific and social communities will lead to a more collaborative, transparent and comprehensive advancement of collective knowledge. To this goal, any publication, such as research papers, proceedings, policy briefs, books and letters, describing your research results should be made openly available through their publication into open access journals, platforms and repositories. There are two ways to do this:
- Gold Open Access: This involves directly publishing your work in an online open access journal or repository. Open access platforms are those which guarantee that free access to research is made with no restrictions, both for the content and for the license agreements, entirely being open content licenses. This way the research results are made available for consultation, download, sharing and reuse immediately after their publication. Publication charges may apply to publications on open access platforms, as for other types of publications.
- Green Open Access: With this you can publish your work in a journal or repository with any kind of access policy and at the same time make available a copy of the work through an open access platform. In this case, the copy you wish to make open will need to be consistent with the legal restrictions imposed by the journal or repository in which the work is published. This can consist of an embargo period, the ability to publish only a pre-print version or some copyright restrictions. Of course, this way is less adequate for making the research results immediately and completely available to the research and social communities, as complete free access to research results is not given immediately.
Many sites and platforms offer open access storage and publication; you can find a list in the Directory of Open Access Journals (for journals and articles) or in the Registry of Open Access Repositories (which includes data repositories and open access journals and databases). The ones most often sed by the research community are probably Zenodo and OpenAIRE. In any case, when making your decision, it is essential to first check in detail the journal or site policy in relation to the copyright of the work in order to avoid further conflicts regarding the ownership and access rights to the content.
In recent times, there has been a general agreement that publication of results should be traceable back to the data that supports the conclusion. Since most Citizen Observatories are constantly adding new observations to their data sets, a frozen version of the data, conveniently anonymised and without any sensitive information in it, should also be made available through an open repository cited in the publication using a permanent and unique identifier (PID) for your data set. Examples of repositories that provide PIDs along with some basic metadata are GitHub, Zenodo, the Open Data Repository and the B2SHARE catalog. Many other thematic repositories exist, and you can find a catalogue on the re3data webpage. Make sure the repository you choose is adequate for the type and formats of your data and that it matches your needs in terms of licenses, as well as of costs of the service. Also, consider whether it will be useful for you to be notified about the use of your data.
Example from the LandSense project
The LandSense project has made its research results available in open access mode through the Zenodo repository, including research papers, posters, presentations and deliverables, as well as the related data sets, and including some publications which have restricted access due to the journal policy. In this case, at least the metadata of the work is provided so that everyone can know of the existence of the research and the work.