Citizen science and global biodiversity
Citizen science and global biodiversity

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Citizen science and global biodiversity

5 Reflections

Picture of moths
Figure 9 Identifying moths

The term citizen science describes an activity that has been going on since the nineteenth century, although the use of that description is a much more recent innovation. Through studying this course you have encountered a number of examples of existing projects and by now you should be able to appreciate the wide range that they cover. Some projects involve simple observation, with little background knowledge required, while others need a certain amount of skill, such as the light-trapping project along the Colorado River (Week 4, Section 3.3). All of the projects offer stimulating ways to get involved with the study of the natural world. And, as there are rapidly increasing numbers of citizen science projects, so there are plenty of opportunities to get involved (Figure 10).

Activity 5 Definition

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

What working definition has been used here for the term citizen science?


It is the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists.

Over the previous eight weeks, you have learned about citizen science under three broad headings:

  • the scope of citizen science projects
  • the development of skills required for the identification and use of online resources
  • the contribution of projects to assessing biodiversity and the state of the planet.
scientists doing a stream survey
Figure 10 Citizen scientists doing a stream survey

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371