Citizen science (CS; also known as community science, crowd science, crowd-sourced science, civic science, volunteer monitoring, or networked science) is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur (or nonprofessional) scientists. Citizen science is sometimes described as "public participation in scientific research," participatory monitoring, and participatory action research.
The term CS has multiple origins, as well as differing concepts. It was first defined independently in the mid-1990s by Rick Bonney in the United States and Alan Irwin in the United Kingdom. Alan Irwin, a British sociologist, defines CS as "developing concepts of scientific citizenship which foregrounds the necessity of opening up science and science policy processes to the public". Irwin sought to reclaim two dimensions of the relationship between citizens and science: 1) that science should be responsive to citizens' concerns and needs; and 2) that citizens themselves could produce reliable scientific knowledge. The American ornithologist Rick Bonney, unaware of Irwin's work, defined CS as projects in which nonscientists, such as amateur birdwatchers, voluntarily contributed scientific data. This describes a more limited role for citizens in scientific research than Irwin's conception of the term.
The terms citizen science and citizen scientists entered the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in June 2014. "Citizen science" is defined as "scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions". "Citizen scientist" is defined as: (a) "a scientist whose work is characterized by a sense of responsibility to serve the best interests of the wider community (now rare)"; or (b) "a member of the general public who engages in scientific work, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions; an amateur scientist". The first use of the term "citizen scientist" can be found in the magazine New Scientist in an article about ufology from October 1979.
Muki Haklay cites, from a policy report for the Wilson Center entitled "Citizen Science and Policy: A European Perspective", an alternate first use of the term "citizen science" by R. Kerson in the magazine MIT Technology Review from January 1989. Quoting from the Wilson Center report: "The new form of engagement in science received the name 'citizen science'. The first recorded example of the use of the term is from 1989, describing how 225 volunteers across the US collected rain samples to assist the Audubon Society in an acid-rain awareness raising campaign."
A "Green Paper on Citizen Science" was published in 2013 by the European Commission's Digital Science Unit and Socientize.eu, which included a definition for CS, referring to "the general public engagement in scientific research activities when citizens actively contribute to science either with their intellectual effort or surrounding knowledge or with their tools and resources. Participants provide experimental data and facilities for researchers, raise new questions and co-create a new scientific culture."
Citizen science may be performed by individuals, teams, or networks of volunteers. Citizen scientists often partner with professional scientists to achieve common goals. Large volunteer networks often allow scientists to accomplish tasks that would be too expensive or time consuming to accomplish through other means.
Citizen science has evolved over the past four decades. Recent projects place more emphasis on scientifically sound practices and measurable goals for public education. Modern citizen science differs from its historical forms primarily in the access for, and subsequent scale of, public participation; technology is credited as one of the main drivers of the recent explosion of citizen science activity.
In March 2015, the Office of Science and Technology Policy published a factsheet entitled "Empowering Students and Others through Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing". Quoting: "Citizen science and crowdsourcing projects are powerful tools for providing students with skills needed to excel in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Volunteers in citizen science, for example, gain hands-on experience doing real science, and in many cases take that learning outside of the traditional classroom setting".
In May 2016, a new open-access journal was started by the Citizen Science Association along with Ubiquity Press called Citizen Science: Theory and Practice (CS:T&P). Quoting from the editorial article titled "The Theory and Practice of Citizen Science: Launching a New Journal", "CS:T&P provides the space to enhance the quality and impact of citizen science efforts by deeply exploring the citizen science concept in all its forms and across disciplines. By examining, critiquing, and sharing findings across a variety of citizen science endeavors, we can dig into the underpinnings and assumptions of citizen science and critically analyze its practice and outcomes."
Scientists and scholars who have used other definitions include Frank N. von Hippel, Stephen Schneider, Neal Lane and Jon Beckwith. Other alternative terminologies proposed are "civic science" and "civic scientist".
Further, Muki Haklay offers an overview of the typologies of the level of citizen participation in citizen science, which range from "crowdsourcing" (level 1), where the citizen acts as a sensor, to "distributed intelligence" (level 2), where the citizen acts as a basic interpreter, to "participatory science", where citizens contribute to problem definition and data collection (level 3), to "extreme citizen science", which involves collaboration between the citizen and scientists in problem definition, collection and data analysis.
In 2016 the Australian Citizen Science Association released their definition which states "Citizen science involves public participation and collaboration in scientific research with the aim to increase scientific knowledge."
In 2016, the book "Analyzing the Role of Citizen Science in Modern Research" defined citizen science as "work undertaken by civic educators together with citizen communities to advance science, foster a broad scientific mentality, and/or encourage democratic engagement, which allows society to deal rationally with complex modern problems".
In a Smart City era, Citizen Science relays on various web-based tools (eg.WebGIS) and becomes Cyber Citizen Science. Some projects, such as SETI@home, use the Internet to take advantage of distributed computing. These projects are generally passive. Computation tasks are performed by volunteers' computers and require little involvement beyond initial setup. There is disagreement as to whether these projects should be classified as citizen science.
The astrophysicist and Galaxy Zoo co-founder Kevin Schawinski stated: "We prefer to call this [Galaxy Zoo] citizen science because it's a better description of what you're doing; you're a regular citizen but you're doing science. Crowd sourcing sounds a bit like, well, you're just a member of the crowd and you're not; you're our collaborator. You're pro-actively involved in the process of science by participating."
Compared to SETI@home, "Galaxy Zoo volunteers do real work. They're not just passively running something on their computer and hoping that they'll be the first person to find aliens. They have a stake in science that comes out of it, which means that they are now interested in what we do with it, and what we find."
Citizen policy may be another result of citizen science initiatives. Bethany Brookshire (pen name SciCurious) writes: "If citizens are going to live with the benefits or potential consequences of science (as the vast majority of them will), it's incredibly important to make sure that they are not only well informed about changes and advances in science and technology, but that they also ... are able to ... influence the science policy decisions that could impact their lives."
In a research report published by the National Park Service in 2008, Brett Amy Thelen and Rachel K. Thiet mention the following concerns, previously reported in the literature, about the validity of volunteer-generated data:
The question of data accuracy, in particular, remains open. John Losey, who created the Lost Ladybug citizen science project, has argued that the cost-effectiveness of citizen science data can outweigh data quality issues, if properly managed.
In December 2016, authors M. Kosmala, A. Wiggins, A. Swanson and B. Simmons published a study in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment called "Assessing Data Quality in Citizen Science". The abstract describes how ecological and environmental CS projects have enormous potential to advance science. Also, CS projects can influence policy and guide resource management by producing datasets that are otherwise infeasible to generate. In the section "In a Nutshell" (pg3), four condensed conclusions are stated. They are:
- Datasets produced by volunteer CSs can have reliably high quality, on par with those produced by professionals.
- Individual volunteer accuracy varies, depending on task difficulty and volunteer experience. Multiple methods exist for boosting accuracy to required levels for a given project.
- Most types of bias found in CS datasets are also found in professionally produced datasets and can be accommodated using existing statistical tools.
- Reviewers of CS projects should look for iterated project design, standardization and appropriateness of volunteer protocols and data analyses, capture of metadata, and accuracy assessment.
They conclude that as CS continues to grow and mature, a key metric of project success they expect to see will be a growing awareness of data quality. They also conclude that CS will emerge as a general tool helping "to collect otherwise unobtainable high-quality data in support of policy and resource management, conservation monitoring, and basic science."
A study of Canadian lepidoptera datasets published in 2018 compared the use of a professionally curated dataset of butterfly specimen records with four years of data from a CS program, eButterfly. The eButterfly dataset was used as it was determined to be of high quality because of the expert vetting process used on the site, and there existed a historic dataset covering the same geographic area consisting of specimen data, much of it institutional. The authors note that, in this case, CS data provides both novel and complementary information to the specimen data. Five new species were reported from the CS data, and geographic distribution information was improved for over 80% of species in the combined dataset when CS data was included.
In March 2015, the state of Wyoming passed new laws (Senate Files 12 and 80) clarifying that trespassing laws applied even if the trespasser's intention was to gather data to further a U.S. government science program. This hampered some CS researchers who were collecting data while on other people's land.
Various studies have been published that explore the ethics of CS, including issues such as intellectual property and project design.(e.g.) The Citizen Science Association (CSA), based at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA), based in the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, have working groups on ethics and principles.
In September 2015, the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) published its Ten Principles of Citizen Science, which have been developed by the "Sharing best practice and building capacity" working group of the ECSA, led by the Natural History Museum, London with input from many members of the association.
- Citizen science projects actively involve citizens in scientific endeavour that generates new knowledge or understanding. Citizens may act as contributors, collaborators, or as project leader and have a meaningful role in the project.
- Citizen science projects have a genuine science outcome. For example, answering a research question or informing conservation action, management decisions or environmental policy.
- Both the professional scientists and the citizen scientists benefit from taking part. Benefits may include the publication of research outputs, learning opportunities, personal enjoyment, social benefits, satisfaction through contributing to scientific evidence e.g. to address local, national and international issues, and through that, the potential to influence policy.
- Citizen scientists may, if they wish, participate in multiple stages of the scientific process. This may include developing the research question, designing the method, gathering and analysing data, and communicating the results.
- Citizen scientists receive feedback from the project. For example, how their data are being used and what the research, policy or societal outcomes are.
- Citizen science is considered a research approach like any other, with limitations and biases that should be considered and controlled for. However unlike traditional research approaches, citizen science provides opportunity for greater public engagement and democratisation of science.
- Citizen science project data and meta-data are made publicly available and where possible, results are published in an open access format. Data sharing may occur during or after the project, unless there are security or privacy concerns that prevent this.
- Citizen scientists are acknowledged in project results and publications.
- Citizen science programmes are evaluated for their scientific output, data quality, participant experience and wider societal or policy impact.
- The leaders of citizen science projects take into consideration legal and ethical issues surrounding copyright, intellectual property, data sharing agreements, confidentiality, attribution, and the environmental impact of any activities.
The medical ethics of internet crowdsourcing has been questioned by Graber & Graber in the Journal of Medical Ethics. In particular, they analyse the effect of games and the crowdsourcing project Foldit. They conclude: "games can have possible adverse effects, and that they manipulate the user into participation".
In March 2019 the online journal Citizen Science: Theory and Practice launched a collection of articles on the theme of Ethical Issues in Citizen Science. The articles are introduced with (quoting): "Citizen science can challenge existing ethical norms because it falls outside of customary methods of ensuring that research is conducted ethically. What ethical issues arise when engaging the public in research? How have these issues been addressed, and how should they be addressed in the future?"
In the research paper "Can citizen science enhance public understanding of science?" by Bonney et al. 2016, statistics which analyse the economic worth of citizen science are used, drawn from two papers: i)Sauermann and Franzoni 2015, and ii)Theobald et al. 2015. In "Crowd science user contribution patterns and their implications" by Sauermann and Franzoni (2015), seven projects from the Zooniverse web portal are used to estimate the monetary value of the CS that had taken place. The 7 projects are: Solar Stormwatch, Galaxy Zoo Supernovae, Galaxy Zoo Hubble, Moon Zoo, Old Weather, The Milky Way Project and Planet Hunters. Using data from 180 days in 2010, they find a total of 100,386 users participated, contributing 129,540 hours of unpaid work. Estimating at a rate of $12 an hour (an undergraduate research assistant's basic wage), the total contributions amount to $1,554,474, an average of $222,068 per project. It should be noted that the range over the 7 projects was from $22,717 to $654,130.
In "Global change and local solutions: Tapping the unrealized potential of citizen science for biodiversity research" by Theobald et al. 2015, the authors surveyed 388 unique biodiversity-based projects. Quoting: "We estimate that between 1.36 million and 2.28 million people volunteer annually in the 388 projects we surveyed, though variation is great" and that "the range of in-kind contribution of the volunteerism in our 388 citizen science projects as between $667 million to $2.5 billion annually."
Worldwide participation in citizen science continues to grow. A list of the top five citizen science communities compiled by Marc Kuchner and Kristen Erickson in July 2018 shows a total of 3.75 million participants, although there is likely substantial overlap between the communities.
There have been studies published which examine the place of CS within education.(e.g.) Teaching aids can include books and activity or lesson plans.(e.g.). Some examples of studies are:
From the Second International Handbook of Science Education, a chapter entitled: "Citizen Science, Ecojustice, and Science Education: Rethinking an Education from Nowhere" by Mueller and Tippins (2011), acknowledges in the abstract that: "There is an emerging emphasis in science education on engaging youth in citizen science." The authors also ask: "whether citizen science goes further with respect to citizen development." The abstract ends by stating that the "chapter takes account of the ways educators will collaborate with members of the community to effectively guide decisions, which offers promise for sharing a responsibility for democratizing science with others."
From the journal Democracy and Education, an article entitled: "Lessons Learned from Citizen Science in the Classroom" by authors Gray, Nicosia and Jordan (GNJ) (2012) give a response to a study by Mueller, Tippins and Bryan (MTB) called "The Future of Citizen Science". GNJ begins by stating in the abstract that the study The Future Of Citizen Science: "provides an important theoretical perspective about the future of democratized science and K12 education." But GRB state: "However, the authors (MTB) fail to adequately address the existing barriers and constraints to moving community-based science into the classroom." They end the abstract by arguing: "that the resource constraints of scientists, teachers, and students likely pose problems to moving true democratized science into the classroom."
In 2014, a study was published called "Citizen Science and Lifelong Learning" by R. Edwards in the journal Studies in the Education of Adults. Edwards begins by writing in the abstract that CS projects have expanded over recent years and engaged CSs and professionals in diverse ways. He continues: "Yet there has been little educational exploration of such projects to date." He describes that "there has been limited exploration of the educational backgrounds of adult contributors to citizen science". Edwards explains that CS contributors are referred to as volunteers, citizens or as amateurs. He ends the abstract: "The article will explore the nature and significance of these different characterisations and also suggest possibilities for further research."
In the journal Microbiology and Biology Education a study was published by Shah and Martinez (2015) called "Current Approaches in Implementing Citizen Science in the Classroom". They begin by writing in the abstract that CS is a partnership between inexperienced amateurs and trained scientists. The authors continue: "With recent studies showing a weakening in scientific competency of American students, incorporating citizen science initiatives in the curriculum provides a means to address deficiencies". They argue that combining traditional and innovative methods can help provide a practical experience of science. The abstract ends: "Citizen science can be used to emphasize the recognition and use of systematic approaches to solve problems affecting the community."
In November 2017, authors Mitchell, Triska and Liberatore published a study in Public Library of Science titled "Benefits and Challenges of Incorporating Citizen Science into University Education". The authors begin by stating in the abstract that CSs contribute data with the expectation that it will be used. It reports that CS has been used for first year university students as a means to experience research. They continue: "Surveys of more than 1500 students showed that their environmental engagement increased significantly after participating in data collection and data analysis." However, only a third of students agreed that data collected by CSs was reliable. A positive outcome of this was that the students were more careful of their own research. The abstract ends: "If true for citizen scientists in general, enabling participants as well as scientists to analyse data could enhance data quality, and so address a key constraint of broad-scale citizen science programs."
"Citizen science" is a fairly new term but an old practice. Prior to the 20th century, science was often the pursuit of gentleman scientists, amateur or self-funded researchers such as Sir Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, and Charles Darwin. By the mid-20th century, however, science was dominated by researchers employed by universities and government research laboratories. By the 1970s, this transformation was being called into question. Philosopher Paul Feyerabend called for a "democratization of science". Biochemist Erwin Chargaff advocated a return to science by nature-loving amateurs in the tradition of Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, Buffon, and Darwin—science dominated by "amateurship instead of money-biased technical bureaucrats".
A study from 2016 indicates that the largest impact of citizen science is in research on biology, conservation and ecology, and is utilized mainly as a methodology of collecting and classifying data.
Collectively, amateur astronomers observe a variety of celestial objects and phenomena sometimes with equipment that they build themselves. Common targets of amateur astronomers include the Moon, planets, stars, comets, meteor showers, and a variety of deep-sky objects such as star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae. Observations of comets and stars are also used to measure the local level of artificial skyglow. One branch of amateur astronomy, amateur astrophotography, involves the taking of photos of the night sky. Many amateurs like to specialize in the observation of particular objects, types of objects, or types of events that interest them.
The American Association of Variable Star Observers has gathered data on variable stars for educational and professional analysis since 1911 and promotes participation beyond its membership on its Citizen Sky website.
Butterfly counts have a long tradition of involving individuals in the study of butterflies' range and their relative abundance. Two long-running programs are the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (started in 1976) and the North American Butterfly Association's Butterfly Count Program (started in 1975). There are various protocols for monitoring butterflies and different organizations support one or more of transects, counts and/or opportunistic sightings. eButterfly is an example of a program designed to capture any of the three types of counts for observers in North America. Species-specific programs also exist, with monarchs the prominent example. Two examples of this involve the counting of monarch butterflies during the fall migration to overwintering sites in Mexico: (1) Monarch Watch is a continent-wide project, while (2) the Cape May Monarch Monitoring Project is an example of a local project. The Austrian project Viel-Falter investigated if and how trained and supervised pupils are able to systematically collect data about the occurrence of diurnal butterflies, and how this data could contribute to a permanent butterfly monitoring system. Despite substantial identification uncertainties for some species or species groups, the data collected by pupils was successfully used to predict the general habitat quality for butterflies.
Citizen science projects have become increasingly focused on providing benefits to scientific research. The North American Bird Phenology Program (historically called the Bird Migration and Distribution records) may have been the earliest collective effort of citizens collecting ornithological information in the U.S. The program, dating back to 1883, was started by Wells Woodbridge Cooke. Cooke established a network of observers around North America to collect bird migration records. The Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count, which began in 1900, is another example of a long-standing tradition of citizen science which has persisted to the present day. Citizen scientists help gather data that will be analyzed by professional researchers, and can be used to produce bird population and biodiversity indicators.
Raptor migration research relies on the data collected by the hawkwatching community. This mostly volunteer group counts migrating accipiters, buteos, falcons, harriers, kites, eagles, osprey, vultures and other raptors at hawk sites throughout North America during the spring and fall seasons. The daily data is uploaded to hawkcount.org where it can be viewed by professional scientists and the public.
Such indices can be useful tools to inform management, resource allocation, policy and planning. For example, European breeding bird survey data provide input for the Farmland Bird Index, adopted by the European Union as a structural indicator of sustainable development. This provides a cost-effective alternative to government monitoring.
Similarly, data collected by citizen scientists as part of BirdLife Australia's has been analysed to produce the first-ever Australian Terrestrial Bird Indices.
The concept of citizen science has been extended to the ocean environment for characterizing ocean dynamics and tracking marine debris. For example, the mobile app Marine Debris Tracker is a joint partnership of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Georgia. Long term sampling efforts such as the continuous plankton recorder has been fitted on ships of opportunity since 1931. Plankton collection by sailors and subsequent genetic analysis was pioneered in 2013 by Indigo V Expeditions as a way to better understand marine microbial structure and function.
Citizen science has recently developed in Coral reef studies.
Underwater photography has become more and more popular since the early 2000s, resulting on millions of pictures posted every year on various websites and social media. This mass of documentation is endowed with an enormous scientific potential, as millions of tourists possess a much superior coverage power than professional scientists, who can not allow themselves to spend so much time in the field. As a consequence, several participative sciences programs have been developed, supported by geo-localization and identification web sites (such as iNaturalist.org). Another example, the Monitoring through many eyes project collates thousands of underwater images of the Great Barrier Reef and provides an interface for elicitation of reef health indicators.
Additionally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offers opportunities for volunteer participation. By taking measurements in The United States' National Marine Sanctuaries, citizens are able to contribute data to a variety of marine biology projects. By enabling these citizens, NOAA benefited from 137,000 hours of research during 2016.
There also exist protocols for auto-organization and self-teaching aimed at biodiversity-interested snorkelers, in order for them to turn their observations into sound scientific data, available for research. This kind of approach has been successfully used in Réunion island, allowing for tens of new records and even new species.
Citizen science has a long tradition in Natural science. But nowadays, citizen science projects can also be found in various fields of science like Art history. For example, the Zooniverse project AnnoTate is a transcription tool developed to enable volunteers to read and transcribe the personal papers of British-born and émigré artists. The papers are drawn from the Tate Archive. Another example of citizen science in art history is ARTigo. ARTigo collects semantic data on artworks from the footprints left by players of games featuring artwork images. From these footprints, ARTigo automatically builds a semantic search engine for artworks.
Newer technologies have increased the options for citizen science. Citizen scientists can build and operate their own instruments to gather data for their own experiments or as part of a larger project. Examples include amateur radio, amateur astronomy, Six Sigma Projects, and Maker activities. Most recently scientist Joshua Pearce has advocated for the creation of open-source hardware based scientific equipment that both citizen scientists and professional scientists, which can be replicated by digital manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing. Multiple studies have shown this approach radically reduces scientific equipment costs. Examples of this approach include water testing, nitrate and other environmental testing, basic biology and optics. Groups such as Public Lab, which is a community where citizen scientists can learn how to investigate environmental concerns using inexpensive DIY techniques, embody this approach.
Video technology has enabled expanded citizen science. The Citizen Science Center in the Nature Research Center wing of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences has exhibits on how to get involved in scientific research and become a citizen scientist. For example, visitors can observe birdfeeders at the Prairie Ridge Ecostation satellite facility via live video feed and record which species they see.
Since 2005, the Genographic Project has used the latest genetic technology to expand our knowledge of the human story, and its pioneering use of DNA testing to engage and involve the public in the research effort has helped to create a new breed of "citizen scientist". Geno 2.0 expands the scope for citizen science, harnessing the power of the crowd to discover new details of human population history. This includes supporting, organization and dissemination of personal DNA (genetic) testing. Like Amateur astronomy, citizen scientists encouraged by volunteer organizations like the International Society of Genetic Genealogy have provided valuable information and research to the professional scientific community.
Citizens in Space (CIS), a project of the United States Rocket Academy, seeks to combine citizen science with citizen space exploration. CIS is training citizen astronauts to fly as payload operators on suborbital reusable spacecraft that are now in development. CIS will also be developing, and encouraging others to develop, citizen-science payloads to fly on suborbital vehicles. CIS has already acquired a contract for 10 flights on the Lynx suborbital vehicle, being developed by XCOR Aerospace, and plans to acquire additional flights on XCOR Lynx and other suborbital vehicles in the future.
CIS believes that "The development of low-cost reusable suborbital spacecraft will be the next great enabler, allowing citizens to participate in space exploration and space science."
The Internet has been a boon to citizen science, particularly through gamification. One of the first Internet-based citizen science experiments was NASA's Clickworkers, which enabled the general public to assist in the classification of images, greatly reducing the time to analyze large data sets. Another was the Citizen Science Toolbox, launched in 2003, of the Australian Coastal Collaborative Research Centre. Mozak is a game in which players create 3D reconstructions from images of actual human and mouse neurons, helping to advance understanding of the brain. One of the largest citizen science games is Eyewire, a brain-mapping puzzle game developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that now has over 200,000 players. Another example is Quantum Moves, a game developed by the Center for Driven Community Research at Aarhus University, which uses online community efforts to solve quantum physics problems. The solutions found by players can then be used in the lab to feed computational algorithms used in building a scalable quantum computer.
More generally, Amazon's Mechanical Turk is frequently used in the creation, collection, and processing of data by paid citizens. There is controversy as to whether or not the data collected through such services is reliable, as it is subject to participants' desire for compensation. However, use of Mechanical Turk tends to quickly produce more diverse participant backgrounds, as well as comparably accurate data when compared to traditional collection methods.
The internet has also enabled citizen scientists to gather data to be analyzed by professional researchers. Citizen science networks are often involved in the observation of cyclic events of nature (phenology), such as effects of global warming on plant and animal life in different geographic areas, and in monitoring programs for natural-resource management. On BugGuide.Net, an online community of naturalists who share observations of arthropod, amateurs and professional researchers contribute to the analysis. By October 2014, BugGuide has over 808,718 images submitted by more than 27,846 contributors.
The Zooniverse is home to the internet's largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects. The Zooniverse and the suite of projects it contains is produced, maintained and developed by the Citizen Science Alliance (CSA). The member institutions of the CSA work with many academic and other partners around the world to produce projects that use the efforts and ability of volunteers to help scientists and researchers deal with the flood of data that confronts them. On June 29, 2015, the Zooniverse released a new software version with a project-building tool allowing any registered user to create a project. Project owners may optionally complete an approval process to have their projects listed on the Zooniverse site and promoted to the Zooniverse community. A NASA/JPL picture to the right gives an example from one of Zooniverse's projects The Milky Way Project.
The website CosmoQuest has as its goal "To create a community of people bent on together advancing our understanding of the universe; a community of people who are participating in doing science, who can explain why what they do matters, and what questions they are helping to answer.
CrowdCrafting enables its participants to create and run projects where volunteers help with image classification, transcription, geocoding and more. The platform is powered by PyBossa software, a free and open-source framework for crowdsourcing.
Project Soothe is a citizen science research project based at the University of Edinburgh. The aim of this research is to create a bank of soothing images, submitted by members of the public, which can be used to help others through psychotherapy and research in the future. Since 2015, Project Soothe has received over 600 soothing photographs from people in 23 countries. Anyone aged 12 years or over are eligible to participate in this research in two ways: (1) By submitting soothing photos that they have taken with a description of why the images make them feel soothed (2) By rating the photos that have been submitted by people worldwide for their soothability. 
The bandwidth and ubiquity afforded by smartphone technology has vastly expanded the opportunities for citizen science. Examples include iNaturalist, the San Francisco project, the WildLab, Project Noah, and Aurorasurus. Due to their ubiquity, for example, Twitter, Facebook, and smartphones have been useful for citizen scientists, having enabled them to discover and propagate a new type of aurora dubbed "STEVE" in 2016.
An Android app Sapelli is a mobile data-collection and -sharing platform designed with a particular focus on non-literate and illiterate users with little or no prior ICT experience. A smartphone focussed platform for Citizen Science applications is SPOTTERON, which creates synergy effects for projects by sharing a common feature set.
"The Crowd and the Cloud" is a four-part series broadcast during April 2017, which examines citizen science. It shows how smartphones, computers and mobile technology enable regular citizens to become part of a 21st-century way of doing science. The programs also demonstrate how CSs help professional scientists to advance knowledge, which helps speed up new discoveries and innovations. The Crowd & The Cloud is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation.
Since 1975, in order to improve earthquake detection and collect useful information, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre monitors the visits of earthquake eyewitnesses to its website and relies on Facebook and Twitter.
Citizen science has been used to provide valuable data in hydrology (catchment science), notably flood risk, water quality and water resource management. A growth in internet use and smartphone ownership has allowed users to collect and share real-time flood-risk information using, for example, social media and web-based forms. Although traditional data collection methods are well-established, citizen science is being used to fill the data gaps on a local level, and is therefore meaningful to individual communities. It has been demonstrated that citizen science is particularly advantageous during a flash flood because the public are more likely to witness these rarer hydrological events than scientists.
CS projects in South America include:
The first Conference on Public Participation in Scientific Research was held in Portland, Oregon in August 2012. Citizen science is now often a theme at large conferences, such as the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
In 2010, 2012 and 2014 there were three Citizen Cybersience summits, organised by the Citizen Cyberscience Centre in Geneva. The 2014 summit was hosted in London and attracted over 300 participants.
The first citizen science conference hosted by the Citizen Science Association was in San Jose, California, in February 2015 in partnership with the AAAS conference. The Citizen Science Association conference, CitSci 2017, was held in Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States, between May 17 and 20, 2017. The conference had more than 600 attendees. The next CitSci is in March 2019 in Raleigh, USA.
|Nation or region||Portal||Notes|
|Australia||Australian Citizen Science Association|
|Australia||Australian Citizen Science Project Finder|
|Belgium (Flanders)||Citizen Science Vlaanderen|
|Canada||Citizen science portal|
|Denmark||Citizen Science Portalen|
|Germany||Bürger schaffen Wissen|
|Global||Zooniverse: People-powered research|
|Ireland||Environmental Protection Agency|
|Netherlands and Flanders||EOS Wetenschap|
|Scotland||Citizen Science with TCV.|
|Spain||Observatorio De La Ciencia Ciudadana|
|Sweden||Arenas for co-operation through citizen science|
|United Kingdom||UK Environment Observation Framework|
|United States||USA Government Official Website|
Astronomy has traditionally been among the most fertile fields for serious amateurs [...]
The International Society of Genetic Genealogy <http://www.isogg.org> advocates the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research, and provides a support network for genetic genealogists. It hosts the ISOGG Y-haplogroup tree, which has the virtue of being regularly updated.
Amateur astronomy is a hobby where participants enjoy observing or imaging celestial objects in the sky using the unaided eye, binoculars, or telescopes. Even though scientific research may not be their primary goal, some amateur astronomers make contributions in doing citizen science, such as by monitoring variable stars, double stars sunspots, or occultations of stars by the Moon or asteroids, or by discovering transient astronomical events, such as comets, galactic novae or supernovae in other galaxies.Amateur astronomers do not use the field of astronomy as their primary source of income or support, and usually have no professional degree in astrophysics or advanced academic training in the subject. Most amateurs are beginners or hobbyists, while others have a high degree of experience in astronomy and may often assist and work alongside professional astronomers. Many astronomers have studied the sky throughout history in an amateur framework; however, since the beginning of the twentieth century, professional astronomy has become an activity clearly distinguished from amateur astronomy and associated activities.Amateur astronomers typically view the sky at night, when most celestial objects and astronomical events are visible, but others observe during the daytime by viewing the Sun and solar eclipses. Some just look at the sky using nothing more than their eyes or binoculars, but more dedicated amateurs often use portable telescopes or telescopes situated in their private or club observatories. Amateurs can also join as members of amateur astronomical societies, which can advise, educate or guide them towards ways of finding and observing celestial objects; or even promoting the science of astronomy among the general public.BugGuide
BugGuide (or BugGuide.net) is a website and online community of naturalists, both amateur and professional, who share observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures. The website consists of informational guide pages and many thousands of photographs of arthropods from the United States and Canada which are used for identification and research. The non-commercial site is hosted by the Iowa State University Department of Entomology. BugGuide was conceived by photographer Troy Bartlett in 2003 and since 2006 has been maintained by Dr. John VanDyk, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Entomology and Senior Systems Analyst at Iowa State University. The website has been recognized for helping change public perception of insects.According to VanDyk, BugGuide had over 809 million hits in 2010, averaging approximately 26 hits per second. He also stated that in early 2011 the site consisted of almost 34,000 written pages representing about 23 percent of the estimated insect species in North America. In April 2012 the guide surpassed 500,000 photos. By October 2014, BugGuide had 30,774 species pages and 48,572 total pages, with over 808,718 images submitted by more than 27,846 contributors. On 22 September 2014, BugGuide surpassed 1,000,000 pages (most of which are photographs).The photographs posted have contributed to or resulted in several scientific publications. A large proportion of images featured in an atlas of vespid wasps are credited to contributors to BugGuide. BugGuide photographs have detected new state records of invasive pest ants and beetles.Geologist and moth collector Richard Wilson said of the site, "The BugGuide site is very useful for anyone finding an insect and it is very interactive on getting it identified if a picture can be taken."According to gardening author Margaret Roach, "The site is where naturalists of all levels share photos of 'insects, spiders and their kin' to foster enthusiasm and expand the knowledge base about these often-overlooked (and as BugGuide points out, 'oft-maligned') creatures."According to the site itself, BugGuide.net has been responsible for the identification of 11 new, previously undescribed species as of mid-2014. In addition, 12 species new to the Western Hemisphere were first identified via the site; another seven new to North America; and numerous new country records (primarily the United States) and state/county sightings.COASST
COASST (Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team) is a citizen science project of the University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA, with a vision of monitoring marine ecosystem health with the support of citizens within coastal communities. With the help of hundreds of volunteers from different locations spanning the entire U.S. west coast from Washington to California and into the northern state of Alaska, COASST assesses beach conditions and identifies and tracks any carcasses of dead seabirds found. Data on the carcass of a seabird contributes to creation of a baseline record for the death rates of various species of seabirds including which beaches birds are found at and in what density. Any irregularities can be identified and evaluated so the cause of any increased mortality can be identified. COASST believes citizen scientists partnered with trained scientists create an invaluable relationship that benefits our ability to track and understand marine ecosystems. COASST works closely with state, tribal and federal agencies, environmental organizations and community groups to help this vision of monitoring, and successfully establish marine conservation solutions.Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK is a cancer research and awareness charity in the United Kingdom and Isle of Man, formed on 4 February 2002 by the merger of The Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. Its aim is to reduce the number of deaths from cancer. As the world's largest independent cancer research charity it conducts research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Research activities are carried out in institutes, universities and hospitals across the UK, both by the charity's own employees and by its grant-funded researchers. It also provides information about cancer and runs campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the disease and influencing public policy.Cancer Research UK's work is almost entirely funded by the public. It raises money through donations, legacies, community fundraising, events, retail and corporate partnerships. Over 40,000 people are regular volunteers.Christmas Bird Count
The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a census of birds in the Western Hemisphere, performed annually in the early Northern-hemisphere winter by volunteer birdwatchers and administered by the National Audubon Society. The purpose is to provide population data for use in science, especially conservation biology, though many people participate for recreation. The CBC is the longest running citizen science survey in the world.Cornell Lab of Ornithology
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a member-supported unit of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York which studies birds and other wildlife. It is housed in the Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity in Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary. Approximately 250 scientists, professors, staff, and students work in a variety of programs devoted to the Lab's mission: interpreting and conserving the Earth's biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Work at the Lab is supported primarily by its 75,000 members. The Cornell Lab publishes books under the Cornell Lab Publishing Group, a quarterly publication, Living Bird magazine, and a monthly electronic newsletter. It manages numerous citizen-science projects and websites, including the Webby Award-winning All About Birds.Do-it-yourself biology
Do-it-yourself biology (DIY biology, DIY bio) is a growing biotechnological social movement in which individuals, communities, and small organizations study biology and life science using the same methods as traditional research institutions. DIY biology is primarily undertaken by individuals with extensive research training from academia or corporations, who then mentor and oversee other DIY biologists with little or no formal training. This may be done as a hobby, as a not-for-profit endeavour for community learning and open-science innovation, or for profit, to start a business.EBird
eBird is an online database of bird observations providing scientists, researchers and amateur naturalists with real-time data about bird distribution and abundance. Originally restricted to sightings from the Western Hemisphere, the project expanded to include New Zealand in 2008, and again expanded to cover the whole world in June 2010. eBird has been described as an ambitious example of enlisting amateurs to gather data on biodiversity for use in science.eBird is an example of crowdsourcing, and has been hailed as an example of democratizing science, treating citizens as scientists, allowing the public to access and use their own data and the collective data generated by others.Frank Gill (ornithologist)
Frank Bennington Gill (October 2, 1941 in New York City) is an American ornithologist with worldwide research interests and birding experience. He is perhaps best known as the author of the textbook Ornithology (3rd edition, 2006), the leading textbook in the field.
Gill was raised in Teaneck, New Jersey. He reported that he became interested in birds at the age of seven, when his grandfather, Frank Rockingham Downing, showed him a song sparrow at a birdbath. This was the first time he had seen a bird through binoculars, "and I was hooked."After Gill received his PhD in zoology from the University of Michigan in 1969 (where he had also completed his undergraduate degree), he joined the ornithology department at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. From 1969-1995, Gill was a full-time staff member of the academy, where he held various positions throughout his tenure, including that of chairman for the Department of Ornithology and vice president for systematics and evolutionary biology. During his time at the academy, Gill was instrumental in reestablishing the academy's position as one of the leading centers of American ornithological research. This was manifested through Gill's work as the founding director of the VIREO program (Visual Resources for Ornithology) and his work as the editor of the encyclopedic series Birds of North America, Life Histories for the 21st Century. In 1988 he was awarded the Linnaean Society of New York's Eisenmann Medal. Since 1996, Gill has been affiliated with the academy as a research fellow.
More recently, Gill was the president of the American Ornithologists' Union from 1998-2000. Besides his acclaimed textbook, Gill’s published works include over 150 scientific and popular articles. His worldwide research programs included field studies of island birds, hybridization by blue-winged and golden-winged warblers, flower-feeding strategies of sunbirds of Africa and of hermit hummingbirds of Middle America, and phylogeny through DNA of the chickadees of the world. For his contributions to ornithology, Gill was recognized with the William Brewster Award, the highest honor bestowed by the AOU. Additionally, Gill is an elected member of the International Ornithological Congress, as well as the co-author, with Minturn Wright, of Birds of the World: Recommended English Names (2006). Since 1994 he has led the international effort to use a consistent set of unique English names and authoritative species taxonomy of the birds of the world.Gill’s contributions include innovative program leadership combined with a personal commitment to engaging the public in ornithology through citizen science. He pioneered “cyberbirding”—the use of the internet for nationwide citizen science initiatives—including the conversion of classic Christmas Bird Count to modern technology. Frank and his colleagues at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology also were awarded US Patent No. 6,772,142 for their internet software application to translate online georeference data to an interactive database. With such tools, he and his colleagues created the Great Backyard Bird Count and then the eBird initiative of Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
In 1996, Gill became senior vice president and director of science for the National Audubon Society, a position from which he retired in 2004. At Audubon, he championed the nationwide Important Bird Areas initiative in partnership with BirdLife International. In 2007, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Audubon Society and served as interim president and CEO (2010). He has been quoted in a number of news reports concerning birds.Galaxy Zoo
Galaxy Zoo is a crowdsourced astronomy project which invites people to assist in the morphological classification of large numbers of galaxies. It is an example of citizen science as it enlists the help of members of the public to help in scientific research.There have been 15 versions as of July 2017, many of which are outlined in this article. Galaxy Zoo is part of the Zooniverse, a group of citizen science projects. An outcome of the project is to better determine the different aspects of objects and to separate them into classifications.Genetic genealogy
Genetic genealogy is the use of DNA testing in combination with traditional genealogical methods to infer relationships between individuals and find ancestors. Genetic genealogy involves the use of genealogical DNA testing to determine the level and type of the genetic relationship between individuals. This application of genetics became popular with family historians in the 21st century, as tests became affordable. The tests have been promoted by amateur groups, such as surname study groups, or regional genealogical groups, as well as research projects such as the genographic project. As of 2018, 18.5 million people had been tested. As this field has developed, the aims of practitioners broadened, with many seeking knowledge of their ancestry beyond the recent centuries for which traditional pedigrees can be constructed.Genographic Project
The Genographic Project, launched on April 13, 2005 by the National Geographic Society, is an ongoing genetic anthropological study that aims to map historical human migration patterns by collecting and analyzing DNA samples. The current phase of the project is Geno 2.0 Next Generation. As of 2018, almost one-million participants in over 140 countries have joined the project.INaturalist
iNaturalist is a citizen science project and online social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe. iNaturalist may be accessed via its website or from its mobile applications. Observations recorded with iNaturalist provide valuable open data to scientific research projects, conservation agencies, other organizations, and the public. The project has been called "a standard-bearer for natural history mobile applications."Nemunas Delta
Nemunas Delta is the Lithuanian name for the Neman (Nemunas) River Delta, in Lithuania. Prior to post-World War II border changes, it was known in German as the Memel Niederung, as the Neman was for centuries called the Memel in German.
When it reaches the Baltic Sea, the Neman splits into a maze of river branches and canals, forming polders and wetlands that make it a very attractive destination for eco-tourism. The four main distributaries are Atmata, Pakalnė, Skirvytė and Gilija. In the centre of the delta lies Lithuania's largest island, Rusnė Island (5 km²), and its eponymous village. Although it is the largest human settlement in the delta, its population is only about 2,500.Pamela L. Gay
Pamela L. Gay (born December 12, 1973) is an American astronomer, educator, podcaster, and writer, best known for her work in astronomical podcasting and citizen science astronomy projects. She is a Senior Education and Communication Specialist and Senior Scientist for the Planetary Science Institute. Her research interests include analysis of astronomy data, as well as examination of the impact of citizen science initiatives. Gay has also appeared as herself in various television documentary series.
Gay takes part in science popularization efforts and educational outreach as director of CosmoQuest, a citizen science project aimed at engaging the public in astronomy research, speaking on science and scientific skepticism topics internationally, and through educational podcasting.Public participation
Public participation (citizen participation) is a political principle or practice, and may also be recognised as a right. The terms public participation, often called P2 by practitioners, is sometimes used interchangeably with the concept or practice of stakeholder engagement and/or popular participation.
Generally public participation seeks and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision. This can be in relation to individuals, governments, institutions, companies or any other entities that affect public interests. The principle of public participation holds that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process. Public participation implies that the public's contribution will influence the decision.Public participation may be regarded as a way of empowerment and as vital part of democratic governance.In the context of knowledge management the establishment of ongoing participatory processes is seen by some in the facilitator of collective intelligence and inclusiveness, shaped by the desire for the participation of the whole community or society.Public participation is part of "people centred" or "human centric" principles, which have emerged in Western culture over the last thirty
years, and has had some bearings of education, business, public policy and international relief and development programs. Public participation is advanced by the humanist movements. Public participation may be advanced as part of a "people first" paradigm shift. In this respect public participation may challenge the concept that "big is better" and the logic of centralized
hierarchies, advancing alternative concepts of "more heads are better than one" and arguing that public participation can sustain productive and durable change.The role of public participation in economic and human development was enshrined in the 1990 African Charter for Popular Participation in Development and Transformation.In 1990 practitioners established the International Association for Public Practitioners in order to respond to the increasing interest in the practice, and in turn established the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2). The practice is well established globally and the International Association of Public Participation now has affiliate organizations across the globe.Safecast (organization)
Safecast is an international, volunteer-centered organization devoted to open citizen science for the environment. Safecast was established by Sean Bonner, Pieter Franken, and Joi Ito shortly after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, following the Tōhoku earthquake on 11 March 2011 and manages a global open data network for ionizing radiation monitoring.
The Safecast team, with help of International Medcom, Tokyo Hackerspace and other volunteers, has designed various devices for radiation mapping. These include the bGeigie and bGeigie Nano for mobile applications (carborne and walking measurements) as well as fixed stations called Pointcast.
All data are collected via the Safecast API and are presented on the publicly available interactive Safecast Tile Map.
Safecast later expanded to offer air quality sensors which also report open crowdsourced maps.Xeno-canto
xeno-canto is a citizen science project in which volunteers record, upload and annotate recordings of birdsong and bird calls. All the recordings are published under one of the Creative Commons licenses, including some with open licences.
The data has been re-used in scientific papers. The website is supported by a number of academic and birdwatching institutions worldwide, with its primary support being in the Netherlands.Zooniverse
Zooniverse is a citizen science web portal owned and operated by the Citizen Science Alliance. It is home to some of the internet's largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects. The organization grew from the original Galaxy Zoo project and now hosts dozens of projects which allow volunteers to participate in crowdsourced scientific research. It has headquarters at Oxford University and the Adler Planetarium. Unlike many early internet-based citizen science projects (such as SETI@home) which used spare computer processing power to analyse data, known as volunteer computing, Zooniverse projects require the active participation of human volunteers to complete research tasks. Projects have been drawn from disciplines including astronomy, ecology, cell biology, humanities, and climate science.As of 14 February 2014, the Zooniverse community consisted of more than 1 million registered volunteers. The volunteers are often collectively referred to as "Zooites". The data collected from the various projects has led to the publication of more than 100 scientific papers. A daily news website called 'The Daily Zooniverse' provides information on the different projects under the Zooniverse umbrella, and has a presence on social media.
Science and the public