Originally posted on The Horizons Tracker.
Citizen science is a topic I’ve touched on a number of times over the past few years, with studies highlighting the positive output of citizen scientists in comparison to professional researchers. There have also been attempts to help policy makers get to grips with the potential for citizen science to change how they do their work.
Given the growing appreciation for the role of citizen science it is perhaps not surprising that a number of ventures have emerged to help people get started. The Collaborative Science website launched in 2014 to try and help organizations get cracking with citizen science.
The site was created by a consortium of five universities with the aim of training naturalists in ecology, scientific modeling and adaptive management. They would then be given a space on the site to give students the chance to put their training into action.
Modeling is at the heart of the site, with various tools offered to help volunteers understand and analyze the data they collect through their research more effectively. They are then guided through the creation of a management plan to help them with their conservation work.
You also have the new CitizenScience.gov website launched by the US government. The site exists to promote and support the use of citizen science across government via three main routes:
- A catalog of current citizen science projects in government
- A toolkit to help people design and manage their projects
- A community of practitioners to support people with their project
The site was developed by the US General Services Administration (GSA) in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Another nice project is the Crowdcrafting website, which aims to make it easier for volunteers to contribute their time and expertise to a range of scientific projects.
The open source, and open-science, platform aims to make research available and accessible to everyone. It’s been developed using PyBossa software, which is an open source framework for crowdsourcing projects that counts the likes of CERN and the British Museum among its users.
Each project comes with a tutorial explaining how things work and what’s required to participate. The aim is to make it such that all volunteers need to contribute is enthusiasm and energy rather than subject specific knowledge.
It’s a very welcome trend, and underlines the value and important role we can all play in progressing scientific understanding. I’ll leave you with the following talk by Dr Chris Lintott and Dr Brooke Simmons about the future of citizen science, delivered to Oxford University’s Oxford Martin School. The talk focuses on the Zooniverse platform due to the experience Dr Lintott has had running and growing the platform.