Citizen Science: all fun and no data? ScienceOnline 2010:
[Via Discovering Biology in a Digital World]
Do citizen science efforts ever go beyond “feel good” contributions? Do the data get published in peer-reviewed journals?
In an earlier post, I started a list of citizen science projects that allow students to make a contribution. Many commentors are graciously adding to that list and I thank you all! I’m glad to learn there are so many interesting projects and ways for people to get involved. Science is so empowering!
My question today concerns things like outcomes and deliverables. We’d like to assume that good things are coming from citizen science because people are involved, but I don’t know if that’s really true and being a scientist, I want to avoid over-doing the assumptions.
Does the research from citizen science ever get published?
Last Wednesday, at the University of Washington, I learned about one such study. If you know of others, I’d love to see citations in the comments.
I’m on the Board of a Foundation that has supported the Reef Environmental Education Foundation. They train scuba divers to identify species seen during a dive. They also have created easy ways for this data to be input, creating databases that have been used for many scientific publications.
You can read the details of the volunteer program and access the database. Besides the publications, the trained divers were some of the first to identify invasive species in the Hood Canal area. Observations of the aquatic environments are critically important for our understanding of the world around us. REEF helps us do that.
Citizens help us do that also.
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