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Citizen science and global biodiversity
Citizen science and global biodiversity

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11 Summary of Week 1

Science provides an important way of viewing the world and is a key part of everyday life. The relationship between citizens and science can be viewed within the context of how they relate and engage with it, both as individuals and collectively. Citizen science is increasingly recognised as a mechanism for scientific discovery and a means of acquiring knowledge while at the same time enabling better understanding of, and engagement with, science. It can provide a way for non-professional people to learn about science and participate in authentic scientific research, based on investigations.

Citizen science has been defined as the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by the public, as part of a collaborative project with scientists. While these activities have a long history and emerged within the context of a number of related terms and phrases, the term ‘citizen science’ didn’t emerge until the mid-1990s. A citizen scientist can be defined as someone who volunteers their time contributing to the observation, collection and analysis of data, and the interpretation and reporting of results. An important factor is that citizen science provides opportunities for non-professionals to work with scientists and participate in authentic scientific research.

Public involvement in science has moved on from being mostly about volunteers assisting with data collection. Today, citizen science helps people to understand and learn about science, providing a way for them to get involved in collecting and sometimes analysing data, and it can provide ongoing engagement and learning possibilities with a subject of interest. The ways in which citizen science projects involve participants, as well as their outputs, are key classification methods that can provide valuable information to determine how such initiatives can be implemented.

So far, this course has introduced you to iSpotnature and as it progresses, you will continue to build your understanding of the link between citizen science and global biodiversity. Although somewhat dominated by studies concerned with biodiversity monitoring and environment issues, opportunities to participate in citizen science are very diverse. There are a number of initiatives that can pique interest, spanning a range of diverse fields and interests in the sciences as well as other disciplines. For example the arts and history, from ecology to astronomy, medicine, computer science, climate change, conservation biology and other areas incorporating monitoring or identification activities. This list on Wikipedia details many citizen science projects [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .In Week 8 you will be encouraged to continue your citizen science experience and will be introduced to a range of projects and platforms covering many of these areas.

You can now go to Week 2.