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Citizen and Community Science

Provides resources, strategies and information on conducting research, participating in, and creating citizen and community science projects.

What is Citizen and Community Science?

Citizen or community science is the active involvement of the general public in the collection, analysis, and distribution of data, often under the direction of, or in collaboration with, scientists or scientific institutions ( Citizen science takes many forms, such as reporting observations, developing low-cost technology, conducting experiments, developing projects, or writing open source code.The product of citizen science is research performed by many for the benefit of many.  Whatever form it takes, it is founded on the principle that everyone can contribute to scientific discovery regardless of age, education, gender, or race. By working as a community, citizen scientists and professional researchers can accomplish far more than they could hope to alone, given the time and funding constraints they face (Crowd and the Cloud).

Image of the members of the cascades butterfly citizen science team pictured on Sauk Mountain

Part of the citizen science team for the Cascades Butterfly Project poses on Sauk Mountain.

Image Credit: Park Ranger


Reasons to participate in citizen science, according to the Environmental Protection Agency:

  1. Advancing and accelerating scientific research through group discovery and co-creation of knowledge. For instance, engaging the public in data collection can provide information at resolutions that would be difficult for federal agencies to obtain due to time, geographic, or resource constraints.

  2. Increasing science literacy and providing students with skills needed to excel in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Participants in citizen science or crowdsourcing projects gain hands-on experience doing real science and take that learning outside the classroom.

  3.  Improving delivery of government services with reduced resource investments.

  4.  Connecting citizens to the missions of federal agencies by promoting a spirit of open government and volunteerism.

Citizen science banner: Citizen science is observing, questioning, planning, analyzing, and communicating

Image credit: California Academy of Sciences



[This guide was complied by Kelly Hovinga.]

Key Citizen Science Organizations

Citizen Science Association

The largest international association dedicated to citizen science, visitors can hear about the latest citizen science news, view and submit scholarly articles to the Association's journal, Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, find citizen science projects, and become a member of the Association. 


Started at the University of Pennsylvania and later adopted by Arizona State University, SciStarter is now home to citizen science news, 2,700 searchable formal and informal research projects and events, and a variety of other citizen science resources. 


One of the world's largest and most popular platforms for crowdsourced research. The platform includes a wide variety of citizen science projects, branching outside of the strictly scientific subjects and into topics such as language and history. The platform also includes a project builder where anyone can build their own project for free.

European Citizen Science Association

The ECSA is a non-profit association set up to encourage the growth of the Citizen Science movement in Europe. Based in Germany, there are members in over 28 countries across the European Union. They host conferences, provide news through a blog, and are integrated into formalized education in many of their member countries. 

Australian Citizen Science Association

The ACSA formed to advance citizen science in Australia and is open to project managers, volunteers, or anyone with an interest in citizen science. They provide access to conferences, citizen science news, provide various project finding and creating tools, and keep track of citizen science publications for their community members.