Sunday, 26 February 2012

Citizen Science Projects & Resources

Citizen science, also known as crowdsourced science, refers to the participation of non-scientists on a volunteer basis in projects led by academic scientists. Normally such projects have a wide community (and sometimes world) impact but they can concern only a particular geographical area. Citizen participation is especially helpful when a lot of data should be sorted and analysed. This is the case of projects in astronomy and biology. Aside from the technical help provided, citizen science has an educational aspect - citizens accumulate knowledge through the process of participation and by reading the available learning materials. Here below are some of the major citizen science platforms:

  • Zooniverse claims to be home to the largest and most popular Internet citizen science projects. Most of the projects are in the field of astronomy. Education resources for children aged 9-13 have been uploaded. Currently, there are projects in other areas such as climate, humanities and marine biology.

  • SciStarter includes projects from a wide variety of disciplines. It permits users to sort projects by location (e.g. online or a particular location, usually in the US) and by topics. News on projects and  observations are posted on their blog. It is interesting to note that Darlene Cavalier, the founder of SciStarter, is behind Science Cheerleader: a project gathering a group of cheerleaders who are pursuing science degrees and are passionate about it.

  • The Scientific American database shows the discipline projects belong to as well as details about the principal scientists; the cost of the projects, whether they are ongoing or closed; for which group of citizens they are suitable (kids, students, all).

  • According to an article published in Nature, the newly founded UCL-based research group Extreme Citizen Science aims to expand the concept further and allow volunteers to ask research questions.

  • News feeds from 2nd London Citizen Cyberscience Summit held on February 16-18, 2012 are covered on the website and can be traced by #LCCS2, e. g. on twitter, while videos from the sessions can be found here.

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