What’s going on here?

The first day of April marks the beginning of Citizen Science Month! In this month, we celebrate the valuable contributions of ordinary people, who put great efforts into collecting data and conducting scientific research, regardless of their educational backgrounds. Citizen Science Month strives to raise awareness of environmental challenges and to empower individuals around the globe to contribute in their own way, making positive impacts for the scientific community.  

What does this mean?

Initiated by SciStarter in 2016 and supported by the National Library of Medicine, Arizona State University, the Association for Advancing Participatory Sciences, National Geographic and other collaborators, the annual Citizen Science Day expanded into Citizen Science Month. These partnerships have provided valuable funding for the outset of various projects, training programs and the development of scientific tools in order to engage ordinary people to participate in scientific research.

The main focus of SciStarter is to connect people with projects and events all year long. These projects give the opportunity for science enthusiasts to contribute by making and sharing observations on a specific subject in the fields of nature, medicine, astronomy and more. They also offer online training courses to help educate people regarding the importance of citizen science and the different methods with which it is implemented. 

Why should we care?

Citizen science offers a participatory environment which bridges the gap between society and the scientific community. The involvement of citizens in these projects creates a more inclusive society in which policy making, social innovation and activism are understood and influenced by the public. For example, the monitoring of air quality with the distribution of specific tools, allows ordinary people to understand how air pollution fluctuates and empowers them to advocate for improved air quality.

Citizen science projects do not only benefit the public but also the scientific community itself, as they are powerful means of collecting data. It is estimated that more than 50% of GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) data is obtained through citizen scientists. 

Online platforms like iNaturalist, eBird and Zooniverse hold a notable amount of biological information, often challenging to obtain due to ecosystem complexity. In that and many other cases, citizen science plays a vital role in enhancing the quantity and diversity of scientific data.

This month, we encourage everyone to join as citizen scientists and celebrate the power of community!

Be curious!

Read more about some exciting citizen science projects in our archives:

Featured image by Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash