What is citizen science?

By involving members of the public in authentic scientific inquiries, citizen science supports testing new concepts, accelerating discovery, involving a broader cohort of people in addressing socio-environmental challenges, and creating a more informed and active society. Citizen science is a form of scientific inquiry where members of the general public engage in scientific investigations, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions, measuring samples, analysing data using a variety of qualitative and quantitative tools, interpreting data, drawing inferences and conclusions, and disseminating results.

When discussing citizen science, referring to “scientists” and “citizen scientists” is common. Most commonly, members of the public engage in collecting, sharing, and analysing data. Technologists, educators, communicators, advocates, and prospective leaders are other citizen-science actors who often play a broader, unrecognised role in supporting the productivity of science beyond contributing to data collection or analysis. Members of the public engage with citizen science in diverse ways.

They may illuminate scientific questions needing investigation. Likewise, they may design and develop projects, technologies and supporting resources. They may engage with citizen-science projects to advocate for things they care about. Such public involvement in science often offers information at scales not otherwise possible. Citizen-science projects exist across fundamental and applied sciences, such as environmental science, computer science, medicine, astronomy, and chemistry. However, citizen science is most developed and dominant in the environmental and ecological sciences (Kullenberg and Kasperowski, 2016).

The power of citizen science is sometimes further amplified when AI technologies can effectively support the collection, aggregation, and analysis of relevant project information.

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Kullenberg, C., Kasperowski, D. (2016). What Is Citizen Science?–A Scientometric Meta-Analysis. PloS one, 11(1), e0147152. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0147152