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Project Launch and Management Websites
Need a platform to launch your citizen science project? Explore these websites to see what works best for you!
- Wildlife Sightings
- Nature’s Notebook
- USA National Phenology Network
To connect with other professionals and stay up-to-date on the latest citizen science research and practices visit:
Citizen Science Literature Annotated Bibliography
- Boero, F. (2013). Observational articles: a tool to reconstruct ecological history based on chronicling unusual events. F1000Research, 2.
A plea is made for documenting unusual events to contribute to the understanding of ecological history. The importance of recording apparently irrelevant observations is discussed. The argument that an “expert” eye may be more likely to record unusual observations than a citizen scientist is made.
- Bonney, R., Cooper, C. B., Dickinson, J., Kelling, S., Phillips, T., Rosenberg, K. V., & Shirk, J. (2009). Citizen science: a developing tool for expanding science knowledge and scientific literacy. BioScience, 59(11), 977-984.
A model for creating and operating citizen science projects is described. The model was developed as citizen science projects evolved at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The researchers claim the aim of the model is to inform biodiversity monitoring, biological research, and science education fields while providing insight regarding citizen science culture.
- Bonney, R., Shirk, J. L., Phillips, T. B., Wiggins, A., Ballard, H. L., Miller-Rushing, A. J., & Parrish, J. K. (2014). Next steps for citizen science. Science, 343(6178), 1436-1437.
Strategies to help citizen science reach its full potential are suggested. Strategies include the continued implementation of technology, volunteer training and checking for data quality, addressing community-driven questions, and organizing and collaborating to maximize impact.
- Bonter, D. N., & Cooper, C. B. (2012). Data validation in citizen science: a case study from Project FeederWatch. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 305-307.
This case study from Project FeederWatch describes the development of a data validation protocol designed to increase researchers’ and participants’ confidence in the data being collected. The benefits of implementing “smart” filters and professional reviewers to detect errors in the continent wide bird monitoring program is discussed.
- Bowser, A., & Shanley, L. (2013). New visions in citizen science. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC.
This report highlights 17 case studies of federally sponsored citizen science and crowdsourcing projects. Models that support public contribution, potential challenges, and positive impacts that projects can have on scientific literacy, research, management, and policy are described.
- Breuer, L., Hiery, N., Kraft, P., Bach, M., Aubert, A. H., & Frede, H. G. (2015). HydroCrowd: a citizen science snapshot to assess the spatial control of nitrogen solutes in surface waters. Scientific reports, 5.
In a crowdsourcing experiment, citizen scientists were utilized to test surface water samples in Germany. The researchers claim that crowdsourcing was a useful method of data collection, as a large number of samples were collected with relatively low effort.
- Burgess, H. K., DeBey, L. B., Froehlich, H. E., Schmidt, N., Theobald, E. J., Ettinger, A. K., & Parrish, J. K. (2017). The science of citizen science: Exploring barriers to use as a primary research tool. Biological Conservation, 208, 113-120.
Researchers and citizen science project managers are surveyed to explore differences in perceptions. Four main barriers to the use of citizen science data by researchers are identified. The barriers are narrow awareness of citizen science projects, research not suited for citizen science, inconsistency of data quality, and bias for certain data sources.
- Burton, A. (2012). The ichthyosaur in the room. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 340-340.
The argument that volunteers deserve greater recognition for their contribution to science is made. Mary Anning, female paleontologist is portrayed as an example of a citizen scientist who did not receive the recognition she deserved. It is suggested that receiving recognition can provide higher motivation to participate.
- Ceccaroni, L., & Piera, J. (2017). Analyzing the Role of Citizen Science in Modern Research.
This book provides guidance on launching and improving citizen science projects across the globe. Data on current initiatives and best practices is analyzed across various disciplines. Emergent research and application techniques are highlighted.
- Chandler, M., Bebber, D. P., Castro, S., Lowman, M. D., Muoria, P., Oguge, N., & Rubenstein, D. I. (2012). International citizen science: making the local global. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 328-331.
An overview of Earthwatch Institute, an international nonprofit that works with scientists to develop citizen science programs is provided. Activities that lead to successful citizen science programs are described. International case studies from Kenya, Costa Rica, and India are used as examples of successful international programs.
- Chase, S. K., & Levine, A. (2016). A framework for evaluating and designing citizen science programs for natural resources monitoring. Conservation Biology, 30(3), 456-466.
A framework for evaluating and designing citizen science programs is developed through the review of 52 natural resources monitoring projects. The developed framework is then applied to two programs. The impact of identified resource characteristics on the success and endurance of the programs is discussed. Additionally, the relationship between program goals and design is presented.
- *Crall, A. W., Jarnevich, C. S., Young, N. E., Panke, B. J., Renz, M., & Stohlgren, T. J. (2015). Citizen science contributes to our knowledge of invasive plant species distributions. Biological invasions, 17(8), 2415-2427.
The need to to merge data from multiple sources to improve knowledge of species distributions is presented. The researchers combined volunteer and professional data sets on invasive plant species in Wisconsin to demonstrate the effectiveness of multiple sources. Involving multiple stakeholders and continuous collaboration in monitoring projects is recommended.
- Dickel, S., & Franzen, M. (2016). The “Problem of extension” revisited: New modes of digital participation in science. Journal of Science Communication, 15(1), A06_en.
The authors argue that the digital revolution brings “the problem of extension”, or the inclusion of non-professionals in science. Ameteur scientist, ameteur critic, science participant, and research recipient are identified as roles to differentiate between diversified inclusion efforts.
- Dickerson-Lange, S. E., Eitel, K. B., Dorsey, L., Link, T. E., & Lundquist, J. D. (2016). Challenges and successes in engaging citizen scientists to observe snow cover: from public engagement to an educational collaboration. Journal of Science Communication, 15(01), A01-1.
The evolution of strategies for engaging participants in a citizen science project is discussed. The benefits of shifting to an educational partnership from public outreach are described. These benefits include more intensive participation, improvement is school curriculum, and an increase in data from an important location.
- Dickinson, J. L., Shirk, J., Bonter, D., Bonney, R., Crain, R. L., Martin, J., … & Purcell, K. (2012). The current state of citizen science as a tool for ecological research and public engagement. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 291-297.
The researchers describe the increasing potential that new technologies are providing to citizen science. Prioritization and sustainability are proposed as problems that citizen science is facing today. The question of how government funding and partnerships might help sustain public interest in doing science for society is raised.
- Eveleigh, A., Jennett, C., Blandford, A., Brohan, P., & Cox, A. L. (2014, April). Designing for dabblers and deterring drop-outs in citizen science. In Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 2985-2994). ACM.
The relationship between motivations of volunteers and their level of contribution to citizen science projects is explored. “Dabblers”, the majority of project participants, are identified as low contributors who participate for a short period of time. Suggestions are made for designing projects to encourage longer participation and decrease drop-out rates.
- Gardiner, M. M., Allee, L. L., Brown, P. M., Losey, J. E., Roy, H. E., & Smyth, R. R. (2012). Lessons from lady beetles: accuracy of monitoring data from US and UK citizen‐science programs. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(9), 471-476.
Different methods of data collection for monitoring programs are explored. Traditional science, verified citizen science, and direct citizen science are compared in terms of cost, accuracy, and speed of dissemination.
- Havens, K., Vitt, P., & Masi, S. (2012). Citizen science on a local scale: the Plants of Concern program. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 321-323.
An overview of Chicago Botanic Garden’s Plants of Concern program is provided. The researchers attribute the success of the local scale program to extensive volunteer training, commitment level options, staff-volunteer relationships, and a user-friendly database.
- Henderson, S. (2012). Citizen science comes of age. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 283-283.
In this guest editorial article, the director of Project BudBurst, Sandra Henderson describes citizen science as being at the interface of science and education. She describes the articles that are featured in the special citizen science issue of Frontiers and proclaims that the time to fully integrate citizen science into research is now.
- Jordan, R. C., Ballard, H. L., & Phillips, T. B. (2012). Key issues and new approaches for evaluating citizen‐science learning outcomes. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 307-309.
The researchers distinguish between scientific and learning goals and discuss the importance of evaluation to increase program success. Multiple scales of impact to consider during evaluation are identified. These scales of impact include personal learning outcomes, programmatic outcomes, and community-level outcomes.
- Jordan, R., Crall, A., Gray, S., Phillips, T., & Mellor, D. (2015). Citizen science as a distinct field of inquiry. BioScience, biu217.
The idea that citizen science research should be acknowledged as a distinct discipline is proposed. The three criterion that define a discipline are identified and an explanation for how citizen science research meets these criterion is provided.
- Kasperowski, D. & Brouneus, F. (2016). The swedish mass experiments-a way of encouraging scientific citizenship? Journal of Science Communication 15(1), 1-9.
The role of the Swedish mass experiments in fostering environmental citizenship is explored. The goals and logistics of Swedish mass experiments are described. Benefits of the experiments are discussed, and suggestions are made for improvements.
- Lang, D. (2013, December 26). Citizen science and exploration: Who makes the rules? Make:. Retrieved from http://makezine.com/2013/12/26/citizen-science- and- exploration-who-makes-the-rules/
Questions are raised by a citizen explorer about the rules, laws, and regulations in place regarding citizen science. Requests are made for clearer rules to be created in an effort to avoid unethical practices. The uncertainty of who is responsible for making these rules is discussed.
- Land-Zandstra, A. M., van Beusekom, M. M., Koppeschaar, C., & van den Broek, J. M. (2016). Motivation and learning impact of Dutch flu-trackers. J Science Comm, 15, A04.
The motivations and learning impacts of participants in the Great Influenza Survey, a citizen science program with goals of providing flu surveillance and increasing public interest in science are explored. The desire to contribute to a larger scientific goal is described as the biggest motivator. Learning impacts include greater knowledge of the flu, epidemics, science, and personal health.
- Levy, O., Ball, B. A., Bond-Lamberty, B., Cheruvelil, K. S., Finley, A. O., Lottig, N. R., … & Filstrup, C. T. (2014). Approaches to advance scientific understanding of macrosystems ecology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 12(1), 15-23.
Existing and novel approaches to advancing the emerging field of macrosystems ecology are discussed. Citizen science is describe as a data source that can contribute to macrosystems ecology through long-term studies across a range of scales.
- Lewenstein, B.V. (2016). Can we understand citizen science? Journal of Science Communication, 15(1), 1-5.
This introduction to a special citizen science edition of JCOM explores overarching issues found in submitted articles. Overarching issues include the relationship between citizen science and public engagement, the role of communication in citizen science, and the “meaning” of citizen science. Articles included in the special edition focus on motivation of participants, the relationship between citizen science and education, and implications for democratic engagement.
- Losey, J., Allee, L., & Smyth, R. (2012). The Lost Ladybug Project: Citizen spotting surpasses scientist’s surveys. American Entomologist, 58(1), 22-24.
The success of citizen scientists spotting rare species of ladybugs for the Ladybug Project is explored. The effectiveness of broad monitoring by volunteers is compared to deep monitoring by scientist surveys.
- Marshall, N. J., Kleine, D. A., & Dean, A. J. (2012). CoralWatch: education, monitoring, and sustainability through citizen science. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 332-334.
CoralWatch is described as a citizen science program that integrates education and global reef monitoring by examining coral bleaching and using a monitoring network to educate the public about reef biology, climate change and environmental stewardship. Challenges and successes of the program are discussed.
- Miller-Rushing, A., Primack, R., & Bonney, R. (2012). The history of public participation in ecological research. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 285-290.
The history or citizen science and its contributions to current ecological understanding is explored. Three categories of public participation research are identified; contributory, collaborative, and co-creative.
- Mueller, M., Tippins, D., & Bryan, L. (2012). The future of citizen science. Democracy and Education, 20(1), 1-12.
A brief history of citizen science and research on the topic is provided. Downfalls of citizen science are identified including projects being non community-based, positivist ideologies, and power struggles. The researcher argues that there are many aspects to citizen science including cultural, ethical, political, and spiritual. Colony Collapse Disorder and Nanotechnology are used as examples of topics that diverse perspectives and efforts from citizen scientists could benefit. A model to guide citizen science in education is presented.
- Newman, G., Wiggins, A., Crall, A., Graham, E., Newman, S., & Crowston, K. (2012). The future of citizen science: emerging technologies and shifting paradigms. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 298-304.
The role of technology in the future of citizen science is explored. Potential advancements in citizen science due to the implementation of technology are identified. These advancements include the engaging broad audiences, motivating volunteers, improving data collection, controlling data quality, corroborating model results, and increasing the speed at which decisions can be made. Recommendations for including technology in citizen science projects are provided.
- Oberhauser, K., & LeBuhn, G. (2012). Insects and plants: engaging undergraduates in authentic research through citizen science. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 318-320.
The benefits of undergraduate student involvement in citizen science projects are highlighted using two examples, the Monarch Larva Monitoring Program and the Great Sunflower Project. The researchers encourage citizen science coordinators and college faculty to increase the use of citizen science and citizen science data in undergraduate training.
- Pandya, R. E. (2012). A framework for engaging diverse communities in citizen science in the US. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 314-317.
A participatory framework for designing citizen science programs that align with community priorities is discussed. It is suggested that this framework could lead to a greater diversity of participants in citizen science.
- Pocock, M. J., & Evans, D. M. (2014). The success of the horse-chestnut leaf-miner, Cameraria ohridella, in the UK revealed with hypothesis-led citizen science. Plo one, 9(1), e86226.
The opportunities provided by short-term, hypothesis-led citizen science is demonstrated. The Conker Tree Science Project in the UK utilized citizen scientists to collect data on an insect range expansion. With data quality checks and correcting for bias, the effectiveness of citizen science as a tool is described.
- Price, C. A., & Lee, H. S. (2013). Changes in participants’ scientific attitudes and epistemological beliefs during an astronomical citizen science project. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 50(7), 773-801.
Changes in volunteers’ attitudes toward science and epistemological beliefs after participating in a citizen science project are investigated. The relationship between these changes and the level of participation of volunteers is described. Results show volunteers’ participation in social components of the program was significantly related to improvement in scientific literacy.
- Roy, H.E., Pocock, M.J.O., Preston, C.D., Roy, D.B., Savage, J., Tweddle, J.C. & Robinson, L.D. (2012) Understanding Citizen Science & Environmental Monitoring. Final Report on behalf of UK-EOF. NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and Natural History Museum.
A brief overview of the knowledge on motivations of volunteers is provided. A semi-systematic review of environmental citizen science projects is conducted in order to understand the variety of extant projects. A collation of detailed case studies complement the semi-systematic review. Structured interviews with citizen science users are conducted to more fully understand how citizen science can fit into policy needs. A review of technology in citizen science and an exploration of future opportunities is provided.
- Sauermann, H., & Franzoni, C. (2015). Crowd science user contribution patterns and their implications. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(3), 679-684.
Seven different crowd science projects are analyzed to quantify the financial value of participating volunteers. Results show the value to be substantial, but more so for certain projects than others. Guidance for project managers is provided.
- Schwartz, M. D., Betancourt, J. L., & Weltzin, J. F. (2012). From Caprio’s lilacs to the USA National Phenology Network. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 324-327.
The development of the USA National Phenology Network, a program that engages both scientists and volunteers in monitoring temporal changes, is discussed. It is suggested that the success of monitoring programs is dependent on recruitment, retention, and management of participants.
- Silva, C. G., Monteiro, A., Manahl, C., Lostal, E., Holocher-Ertl, T., Andrade, N., … & Brito, R. M. (2016). Cell Spotting: educational and motivational outcomes of cell biology citizen science project in the classroom. JCOM, 15(01), A02-2.
An overview of the benefits of integrating citizen science into formal science education is provided. The value of this integration to teachers and students is discussed. Students and teachers were surveyed to understand educational and motivational outcomes of participation in a cell spotting (cancer research) citizen science project.
- Switzer, A., Schwille, K., Russell, E., & Edelson, D. (2012). National Geographic FieldScope: a platform for community geography. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 334-335.
The development of National Geographic’s FieldScope, a citizen science project for community geography is discussed. The web-based GIS system is described as a place where citizen scientists gather to share data and make mutually beneficial connections to places and people.
- Tiago, P., Gouveia, M. J., Capinha, C., Santos-Reis, M., & Pereira, H. M. (2017). The influence of motivational factors on the frequency of participation in citizen science activities. Nature Conservation, 18, 61.
The effectiveness of engagement and meaningful experience of participants in a Portuguese citizen science project is assessed through an online survey. Results showed the effectiveness of external motivations to initiate participation, along with the importance of intrinsic motivations to increase long term participation.
- Toomey, D. (2014). How rise of citizen science is democratizing research. Interview with Caren Cooper. Yale Environment, 360.
In an interview with Caren Cooper from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the democratization of citizen science is discussed. Democratization of citizen science is referred to “relocating science into the hearts of society”. The concept of communities using science to make change is explored.
- Vitone, T., Stofer, K.A., Steininger, M.S., Hulcr, J., Dunn, R. & Lucky, A. (2016). School of ants goes to college: Integrating citizen science into the general education classroom increases engagement with science. Journal of Science Communication, 15(1), A03.
In this case study, the implementation and tailoring of an assessment of the educational impact of two citizen science projects in an undergraduate, general education course is described. Pre and post course surveys are used to assess the cognitive and affective outcomes of students participating in citizen science.
- Watson, D., & Floridi, L. (2016). Crowdsourced science: sociotechnical epistemology in the e-research paradigm. Synthese, 1-24.
The success of Zooniverse, the world’s largest citizen science web portal, is evaluated. Data analysis suggests that technologies enhance reliability, scalability, and connectivity of citizen science projects. Based on results, the researchers emphasize the essential role that technology plays in science.
- Weathers, K., Hanson, P. C., Arzberger, P., Brentrup, J., Brookes, J. D., Carey, C. C., … & Istvánovics, V. (2013). The Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON): the evolution of grassroots network science.
The Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON) is described. Information regarding GLEON’s three main networks of lakes, data, and people is provided. The importance of network science is emphasized.
- Zoellick, B., Nelson, S. J., & Schauffler, M. (2012). Participatory science and education: bringing both views into focus. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 310-313.
The researchers describe a logic model that was developed in association with the Acadia Learning Project. The model is intended to assist classroom-based citizen science initiatives with project design and evaluation. It promotes the integration of scientific and educational outcomes that meet the needs of researchers, teachers, and students.