Supporting people of all ages to design and take part in citizen science and citizen inquiry investigations


The Open University and the BBC have collaborated on a joint project to develop a web platform for running large-scale public investigations in natural and social sciences, in which participants are at the centre of the activity. The nQuire platform aims to help people learn about authentic science by designing or taking part in large scale investigations.

The nQuire platform allows for confidential missions in which data are anonymised before sending for analysis, and social missions, in which all responses are open for other participants to view and discuss online.

Scientists, organisations and members of the public are able to create and run online studies to explore topics such as attitudes and perspectives, or capture data such as temperature recordings with various ways to contribute responses to missions, see results and ensure secure handling of personal data.

Missions or investigations can include a rich mix of research elements such as: sounds or images as prompts, the ability for participants to upload a picture as a response, various response types such as slider scales, as well as surveys and quizzes. Mission owners can download data in spreadsheet format, analyse and publish them on the platform.

This project is also aligned to the Learning Analytics and Learning Design research programmes in IET.

The role of IET

IET and The Open University have developed the nQuire platform enabling participation of citizens in the varied stages of the scientific activity (setting up questions, deciding on methods of data collection, analysing and publishing data), researching new ways that members of the public can engage and learn from citizen science and online learning, and widening participation.