Citizen science allows anyone to contribute to the growth of human knowledge

Oct 09, 2019 · Kris Stacy-Bates

Citizen science includes a range of methods by which non-scientists can provide volunteer support for large research projects. Citizen science has had a role in collecting data at least since 1900, when the National Audubon Society launched their first Christmas Bird Count, which now provides 119 years of perspective on trends in winter bird populations. Other field data collection projects inform conservation efforts by counting other animals or plants, aid weather prediction by widely collecting rainfall data, or monitor surface water quality through testing nitrate levels in streams. 

Other projects use a distributed network of volunteers to help with data recording and interpretation.  Projects accessible online make it easy to classify images of galaxies or Galapagos sharks. The Iowa Lakeside Laboratory has such a project, Lakeside Dark Data, available on the Zooniverse platform.

Resources at the ISU Library about the topic of citizen science include print books, e-bookstwo journals, thousands of articles, and a research guide.  You can also find out more about citizen science at a talk by Chris Lintott, Principal Investigator of the Zooniverse, “How to Find a Planet Without Leaving Your Couch.” This session, sponsored by the ISU Committee on Lectures, will be presented at 8:15 p.m., Oct. 15 in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.