Getting attention on digital and social media is one of the major challenges researchers face when using alternative forms of scientific communication. This heartening example, however, shows that major success on digital platforms is possible.
Initially, this soil sampling research project tailored to citizen scientists drew only moderate interest since it began in 2010, wrote Emily Conover in her news piece on ScienceInsider. But then “a reddit user posted a link to the website of the Citizen Science Soil Collection Program, run by the Natural Products Discovery Group at the University of Oklahoma.” As a result, the research group “has received more than 4000 requests for soil collection kits—a huge boost from the 500 samples they collected over the past year.”
“It’s just incredible; this is exactly what we were hoping for. I wish I could say we were the architects of it, but it just happened, and it’s awesome,” says chemist Robert Cichewicz, lead scientist for the project. “The engagement of people and the general public into the scientific process can just redefine an entire lab’s research in a matter of days,” Cichewicz says. “I’m just giddy.”