3 ways to become a citizen scientist

Last week I went to a workshop about citizen science organised by WWF and IUCN. It was very interesting to hear about all the projects all around the world that use citizen science. 

You might wonder, what are you talking about? Citizen science? What is it?? Well, citizen science is research that is partly or fully carried out by the general public, non-professional scientists, students etc. This way, citizens can contribute to the analysis or gathering of data under the supervision of professional scientists. It often means a cheaper, easier and more widespread research for scientists, as well as an opportunity for non-scientists to be part of the science community. There are many types of citizen science projects. You can think of taking pictures and uploading them to a database, using your phone/computer to support power to research servers, translating texts and so on. Below I have listes three platforms through which you can become a researcher yourself. 

1. Zooniverse
Zooniverse is a giant database with projects in which everyone can participate. These projects often have giant amounts of data that needs to be analysed ranging from camera trap (photography) data, sattelite imagry data, texts, sounds, transcriptions etc. It's an amazing way to get access to science and the way science is conducted, as well as to cool data from the field. You can participate whenever you want, even if it's one minute in a whole year, every little bit helps. Also, good explanation is provided on what to do, so that you don't have to worry about doing anything wrong. Here you can find the project page: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects. Some cool projects you could try are:  Hawk Talk (https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/rachael-cornell/hawk-talk/classify), Criminal characters (https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/ajpiper/criminal-characters), a bit more challenging but super cool is AmazonCam Tambopata (https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/rainforestexpeditions/amazoncam-tambopata/classify), and of course Galaxy Zoo (https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/zookeeper/galaxy-zoo). You can also see if there are any projects around your area so you can learn more about that!

2. Marine Debris Tracker
The name says it all. This app provides an easy way to report where you find marine debris or litter anywhere in the world. It's a very easy app. You simply register what items you've found and how many, and then upload it to the database. This global database of (marine) litter can then be put to the use of scientists for their research. Easy, fun, and important! You can simply download the app from both the Google and Apple app stores. 

http://marinedebris.engr.uga.edu/

3.  Globe At Night
Globe At Night provides a little bit more of a challenge, but is fun for people who love to get into stargazing and maybe even want to know more about light pollution. It is an international campaign to make people more aware of light pollution through letting citizen scientist track light pollution simply through using their computer or smartphone. It's an important topic since light pollution can affect energy consumption, wildlife and even human health. The data gathered by all these scientists can then be compared to other databases to, for example, assess the impacts light pollution has on foraging habits of animals. 

The website provides a lot of interesting information on light pollution, which makes it an interesting read in itself. If you became interested in participating, however, check out the five steps you have to take here: 

https://www.globeatnight.org/5-steps.php

 

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