Personal science

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This article is a stub. You can help the Personal Science Wiki by expanding it. Not to be confused with Personal Science, the book by Gary Wolf.

Personal science is a term that describes research that is conducted from a first person perspective and in which the researcher is also the subject of research. Most personal science projects are done independently and occur at individual and more rarely collective scales ("I" or "we"). Importantly, the conceptualization and conduct of projects comes from the individuals that are studied. The involvement of institutional support and professional scientists (e.g. academics) is limited and often entirely absent.

History[edit | edit source]

The term "personal science" was originally coined by Seth Roberts, a prolific self-experimenter and academic researcher, in 2012[1]. Starting from this, the term spread within the Quantified Self and broader self-research communities. Subsequently, Gary Wolf and Martijn de Groot conceptualized personal science as a type of "N-of-1 research"[2] and defined personal science the practice of individuals using empirical methods to answer questions related to their own lives, typically related to individual's well-being or health[3].

Relationship to citizen science[edit | edit source]

Personal science can be understood as a form of "citizen science" (the practice of research conducted totally or in part by non-professional scientists) which typically occurs almost entirely outside traditional research institutions[4]. While not a requirement for engaging in personal science, many practitioners of personal science come from academia and adjacent fields (research industry, technology, medicine) and engage in re-using their skills in research and technology to investigate personally relevant questions. Due to the highly individual and non-institutional nature of personal science, knowledge sharing amongst practitioners has been historically limited and ad-hoc[5].

Examples of personal science[edit | edit source]

Many personal science projects investigate the management of a chronic condition or disease, but examples also include investigating the effects of microaggressions or understanding stress during conversations. The categories Projects and Show & Tell contain a large number of example projects across these topics.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Roberts, Seth. (2012). The Growth of Personal Science: Implications for Statistics. 61.
  2. De Groot, M., Drangsholt, M., Martin-Sanchez, F., & Wolf, G. (2017). Single Subject (N-of-1) Research Design, Data Processing, and Personal Science. Methods of Information in Medicine, 56(06), 416–418.
  3. Wolf, G. I., & De Groot, M. (2020). A Conceptual Framework for Personal Science. Frontiers in Computer Science, 2.
  4. Heyen, N. B., & Dickel, S. (2019). Was ist Personal Health Science? In N. B. Heyen, S. Dickel, & A. Brüninghaus (Eds.), Personal Health Science: Persönliches Gesundheitswissen zwischen Selbstsorge und Bürgerforschung (pp. 1–19). Springer Fachmedien.
  5. Heyen, N. B. (2020). From self-tracking to self-expertise: The production of self-related knowledge by doing personal science. Public Understanding of Science, 29(2), 124–138.