• Enric Senabre Hidalgo
  • Mad P. Ball,
  • Morgane Opoix
  • Bastian Greshake Tzovaras 


Some individuals do not limit their self-tracking efforts to passively collecting and observing gathered data about themselves, but rather develop it into forms of self-research and self-experimentation, also called “personal science”. This type of N-of-1 research is relevant to the fields of personal informatics, patient-led research and social studies of science, but as a knowledge generation practice is still poorly understood. To fill this gap, we conducted 22 semi-structured interviews to investigate the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations of individuals engaging in personal science activities, as well as shared goals and values present in self-research communities. Our analysis is based on a conceptual framework that integrates previous approaches in self-research, as well as in connection with citizen science, the scientific ethos and cooperation in peer production. We identify how self-researchers seek to go beyond personal metrics about their health and wellbeing regarding data provided by wearables, are engaged over time by individual involvement in technology and scientific-related activity, and collaborate following similar goals and values when learning and sharing empirical knowledge with peers. In this sense, personal science can be understood as a specific type of citizen science and an example of a more participatory and inclusive scientific culture driven by self-reflection, critical thinking and openness.



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