What is Citizen Science?
Citizen science is scientific work that members of the general public participate in under the direction of professional scientists.
Citizen Science is…
- Scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur scientists
- The involvement of the public in scientific research – whether community-driven research or global investigations
- When volunteers assist scientists in their research
- Can include informal scientists of all ages
- Involves a variety of disciplines including zoology, botany, ornithology, astronomy, ecology, meteorology, marine biology, microbiology, ethology and both environmental and public health
Activities Asked of Citizen Scientists
- Assess walkability of sidewalks; provide insight into feelings of safety
- Work a health fair and document risk factors for CVD and blood pressures
- Collect water or urine samples; test using a provided testing kit or mail to a lab
- Photograph and classify specific bird, animal, insect, plant etc.
- Recruit families with children with a rare disease and collect biological sample for DNA testing
- Survey chronic disease suffers about their successes and challenges with specific treatments
- Solve puzzles and model de novo protein structures by playing an online game- Foldit
- Examine histological slides and count abnormalities
What is the University of Cincinnati Citizen Science Club?
The UC Citizen Science Club is a group sponsored by the College of Allied Health Scientist to involve undergraduates and graduate students in working as citizen scientists alongside health faculty researchers. This club is a great way to get involved with research, to ask and answer questions that are relevant to you, and build your resume!
Why Do Citizen Science?
It’s a Win-Win
- Get help with aspects of extensive data collection or analysis that would be nearly impossible for a single scientist to accomplish alone
- Quality; ability to cross check data for accuracy; often measurements can be taken multiple times by different volunteers to verify accuracy
- Can be cost-effective if designed well
- Gives participating and/or affected citizens and/or their larger community greater ownership of the data, commitment to the project and its outcomes and accountability for its results; motivates action to support creation of interventions or policy change!
- Makes research and science more accessible; increases the public’s understanding of research; grows their capacity to do research; encourages their investment in it, all while having fun!
- Increase diversity of the scientific team – different ages, backgrounds, professions and points of view
- Broader impact; bridge gaps beyond what was previously possible
- Because of a more engaged citizenry, new solutions for intractable problems can be generated, and over time, society may be profoundly transformed including in places where poverty and health disparities have existed for generations
Types of Citizen Science Projects
Projects with the most active roles for citizens include citizen-initiated projects in which laypeople choose the research problem, define aims and objectives, obtain funding, assemble a research team, design the study, collect data, and recruit participants
In community-based participatory research, investigators select the research problem and obtain funding, but work closely with community members in numerous aspects of the project, including refinement of aims and objectives, research design, survey development, recruitment, informed consent, data collection, and data interpretation
In citizen-assisted projects laypeople help with data or sample collection or recruitment, but have little role in study design, data interpretation, or tasks that involve substantive intellectual input
Reference: Resnik, 2019