Personal science is a term used by the late psychologist and scientist Seth Roberts, who defined it as: "using science to solve your own problems".[1] Associated fields are self-experimentation and citizen science. The concept has been further developed within the Quantified Self community. The first use of the term in a scientific publication was in 2016,[2] where it was associated with: "an interest in collecting data about their own bodies or lives in order to obtain insights into their everyday health or performance". In 2017, the scientific journal Methods of Information in Medicine published a focus theme on single subject (N-of-1) research design, which also included personal science. The editorial introducing the focus theme is titled "Single Subject (N-of-1) Research Design, Data Processing, and Personal Science"[3] is co-authored by Gary Wolf, who together with Kevin Kelly coined the phrase the quantified self. In the editorial, personal science was described as "self-directed N-of-1 studies". In 2020, Wolf further developed the term together with Martijn de Groot in an article titled "A Conceptual Framework for Personal Science".[4] They defined personal science as "the practice of using empirical methods to explore personal questions". In a 2021 scientific article building on the previous ones, personal science is defined as: "the practice of exploring personally consequential questions by conducting self-directed N-of-1 studies using a structured empirical approach".[5]



The history of personal science is derived from several sources, one of which is the 1958 book Personal knowledge: Towards a post-critical philosophy[6] by Michael Polanyi. His work especially highlighted the tacit and subjective dimensions of conventional scientific practices. Building on Polanyi's work, Martin and Brouwer introduced the term personal science in the 1993 article Exploring personal science,[7] as an approach for characterizing scientific practice for young students. They emphasized that “science is not simply rational and objective but that the inquiring person is an integral part of the enquiry.”

See also



  1. ^ Roberts, Seth (16 March 2011). "Is Medical Research a Veblen Good?". Seth's blog. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  2. ^ Heyen, Nils B (2016). Self-tracking as knowledge production: Quantified self between prosumption and citizen science (in Lifelogging. Digital Self-Tracking between disruptive technology and cultural change, Selke, Stefan (Editor)). Springer VS. pp. 283–301. ISBN 978-3-658-13136-4.
  3. ^ de Groot, Martijn; Drangsholt, Mark; Martin-Sanchez, Fernando J; Wolf, Gary (2017). "Single Subject (N-of-1) Research Design, Data Processing, and Personal Science". Methods of Information in Medicine. 56 (6): 416–418. doi:10.3414/ME17-03-0001. PMID 29582912.
  4. ^ Wolf, Gary; de Groot, Martijn (2020). "A Conceptual Framework for Personal Science". Frontiers in Computer Science. 2. doi:10.3389/fcomp.2020.00021.
  5. ^ Riggare, Sara; Hägglund, Maria; Bredenoord, Annelien L; de Groot, Martijn; Bloem, Bastiaan R (2021). "Ethical Aspects of Personal Science for Persons with Parkinson's Disease: What Happens When Self-Tracking Goes from Selfcare to Publication?". Journal of Parkinson's Disease. 11 (4): 1927–1933. doi:10.3233/JPD-212647. PMC 8609698. PMID 34120915. S2CID 235409005.
  6. ^ Polanyi, Michael (1958). Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. University of Chicago Press.
  7. ^ Martin, B.; Brouwer, W. (1993). "Exploring personal science". Science Education. 77 (4): 441–459. Bibcode:1993SciEd..77..441M. doi:10.1002/sce.3730770407. ISSN 0036-8326.