Have you ever wanted to contribute to the exciting developments in science but felt underqualified?
Well, you easily can through citizen science!
Citizen science is scientific research conducted by 'amateur scientists' or through public participation.
It is not a new concept, having been practiced throughout history with the largest presence in the biological and environmental science fields. Recently, it stepped into the spotlight due to needs for large-scale information collection, and increased public access to technology, information, and the internet.
An analysis done by EJ. Theobald et al in 2014 proved just how much of a force citizen science can be. They analyzed 388 science projects which involved citizen science and found them to be much larger and last much longer than government funded projects. On top of that, the efforts done by the amateur scientists were valued at 667million USD at the minimum. The data collected by amateur scientists were also on par with professionally collected scientific data.
Data collection is very important for biodiversity research, especially at larger scales. For example, projects looking at biodiversity at continental scales over long periods of time can allow scientists to understand what processes are currently happening in nature. The more public participation scientists get, the better!
Citizen science doesn't just benefit scientists though, it can inspire young aspiring scientists to become professional scientists by giving them a taste of the work! Also, participation in citizen science projects educates participants on the topic they are researching.
Participating in citizen science can be as easy as taking a picture of an insect and uploading it to an online database such as iNaturalist. If you ever have some free time and want to get out and see the world through a scientific lens, look up some citizen science projects to participate in near you!
Below are some links to citizen science opportunities to help you kick-start your amateur science career.
Canada Citizen Science:
Canadian Citizen Science Portal
US Citizen Science:
US Citizen Science
Larger citizen science platforms:
Help From Home
Biodiversity online databases:
Bumble Bee Watch
Measuring local noise:
Paper: Theobald et al, 2014. Global change and local solutions: tapping the unrealized potential of citizen science for biodiversity research. Biological Conservation. 181: 236-244. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2014.10.021
Citizen science, Biodiversity