Name change: Rubin Community Science team

This topic post is a notification of a team name change within Rubin Observatory.

New name: Community Science team (CST)

Old name: Community Engagement team (CET)

Why? The term “Community Science” is better aligned with the team’s motivation, goals, responsibilities, and role within Rubin Operations. Engagement is one of our many strategies to promote and enable community science.

Since this team’s function is not changing, past Forum topics describing the team and the model for community science are being left up in their original state, with the old name.

Going forward, in all new documentation and Forum topics, you will see the term “Community Science team” and CST.

We know many have gotten familiar with the acronym CET and that it might take a while to switch to CST, and that’s OK!

If you have any questions please reach out, either as a reply in this topic, a direct message to @CST, or direct message to me.

Attention @DP0-Delegates, who might be particularly interested in this announcement.

As a science collaboration chair, I want to raise one point of confusion about this renaming that I have some concerns about.

If I was a new just recently graduated early career researcher joining the Rubin data rights community for the first time, I would have a hard time by the name alone understanding the difference between the roles of the Community Science Team and the Rubin Science Collaborations. I would think by name only that the Community Science Team were the people with data rights interested in doing science with Rubin data. I would not think that group has a formal role in the Rubin Operations team to represent the operations team to the community and as part of that role is focused on how to help the Rubin data rights community learn to use Rubin tools and data.

It’s even more confusing with the old community posts keeping the old names, especially when there is no page I could find with the CET/CST links/discussion on (Maybe I missed the page, I couldn’t find any CET/CST link on the side bar from For Scientists | Rubin Observatory) . I think this information needs to have a home on the Rubin website not just in a series of community posts especially with different names in different places. It sounds like this new name is already decided, but I think a webpage on (not community posts given how fast they get buried and not easy for new users to find) is needed to clarify the role of the CST, who makes up this team, and how it is different than the SCs


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I can see Meg’s point, and agree that some prominent links in the scientist section of can probably address it.

For myself, I keep having to remind myself that Rubin’s use of “community” differs from that of NSF and NASA, particularly in the phrase “community engagement.” If you look for that phrase at or, you’ll see they use “community” in that context to mean the broader public. I frequently have to remind myself, “When Rubin says ‘community,’ they mean science community, not the broader community.”

The new name seems doubly ambiguous to me; it suggests a group that is doing science (for the community? with the community?). The old name was a bit ambiguous about what community was being served, but the term “engagement” at least made it clear that the team isn’t directly responsible for doing science, but rather provides a variety of support/collaboration functions.

Something like “Science Community Support Team” or “Science Community Engagement Team” seems to better capture what I understood the CET to be about. I’m not suggesting changing the name (again). But although the announcement indicates the team’s function is not changing, the new name suggests a change from supporting science to actually doing science. Though for a sociologist of science, the new name might indicate this team is doing “community science” (sorry, I have that on the brain because I’m mentoring a LINCC fellow, and they have sociologists on the team actually doing, well, community science, i.e., studying how our community of scientists works).

It might also be worth noting that a number of institutions use the term “community science” as a synonym—actually, a replacement—for “citizen science.” It appears there’s a move among museums, science centers, and other community-facing science groups away from “citizen science” to “community science.” E.g., Introduction to Community Science - Community Science Initiative (that’s from an association of museums and science centers). eBird is another example; their website briefly explains why the citizen science community is moving away from “citizen” (in a nutshell, to be more inclusive): Community Science: Why we do it, and why we call it that - eBird Pacific Northwest. The British Science Association is adopting “community science” in this way, too: What is Community Science? | British Science Association. When I’ve hunted around for the term, it seems like the environmental science community in particular has gone all-in on “community science” as a replacement for “citizen science,” with quite a few journal articles on the topic. The EPA even has a “Social and Community Science Subcommittee” focused on what has previously been called citizen science.

So I’m a bit concerned that the new name will invite confusion, even beyond Meg’s concerns, due to “Community Science” being a term of art with existing meanings different from what is intended here.

This is great feedback, and more is welcome. In the meantime, here’s some clarification.

There is now a webpage at For Scientists | Rubin Observatory that describes the Rubin Community Science team. It provides context within the organizational structure of Rubin Observatory and outlines the main responsibilities and activities of the team. The CST’s relationships with, e.g., the LSST Science Collaborations and Citizen Science, are clearly described. The various communities are also distinguished and defined.

There is a certain amount of degeneracy in the term “Community Science”, but it remains the most appropriate and succinct term for this team. As mentioned, “Community Engagement” now more commonly refers to what used to be called public outreach, which is not the goal of the CST. For example, this name change brings the CST into alignment with the NOIRLab Community Science Data Center (CSDC), which is a more accurate counterpart than NOIRLab Community Engagement and Education (CEE). The CST’s model for community science includes studies of how communities of scientists work together and citizen science methodologies. These aspects of the CST’s work are now more naturally encompassed by the new name.

The CST is “not doing science” only under a narrow definition of what it means to “do science”. Rubin staff perform scientific investigations as part of their operational duties in a wide variety of roles as, e.g., Observatory, Scheduler, Community, Pipeline, Systematics, or Calibration Scientists. This name change is internally consistent with Rubin teams being named for their primary goal (or the part of the Rubin system they support): in this case, Community Science, wherein engagement and support are two of the approaches the CST takes towards Community Science.

Hopefully the above, and the new website, clarify things a bit. We appreciate the feedback and would welcome follow-up discussion.