We assess the relationship between citizens’ participation in scientific research and public trust in research results within social sciences. We conduct an online citizen science quasi-experiment concerning the delineation of metropolitan areas of Poland’s two major cities. It consists of two stages. In stage one, participants in one region are exposed to citizen science and directly involved in delineating the boundaries of their local metropolitan area. In stage two, we add another region in which participants are not involved in the research process. In both regions we ask the participants to evaluate the level of their trust in the presented maps of respective metropolitan areas: based on citizen science in one region and historical data regression analysis in the other region. Our contribution to the literature lies in two areas. First, we demonstrate how citizen science can be used in urban studies to delineate boundaries of urban and metropolitan areas exhibiting strong functional connections. Second, we show that the participation of local residents in the research process increases public trust in the study results compared to non-participatory ‘traditional academic’ research. These results confirm that citizen science programs deserve to be strongly supported by European institutions as a possible means to resolving the credibility crisis of science, research and evidence-based policies.
Citizen science, Social trust, Trust in science, Urban studies, City boundaries
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