Citizen Scientists and Volunteers

This section covers the importance of volunteers and possibilities to engage them. Remember that citizen science can provide good results only if volunteers, citizen scientists, are involved.

People interested in volunteering can watch “How do I become a citizen scientist?” to get an idea of what being a citizen scientist means. For researchers, LibOCS project partner TalTech Library has made a short video “Involving volunteers in citizen science: tips for researchers”. It introduces the possibilities of recruiting volunteers to researches, also recommended for librarians to get a glimpse of what will be expected from them.

How eager are volunteers to participate in projects and how it is possible to grow the number of people who want to be involved in citizen science projects? All that is explained in the article “Cross Academia and Public Citizen Engagement for Developing Active Citizenship Competences”.

Engaging volunteers and working with people can be quite challenging. The research paper “Modeling intrinsic factors of inclusive engagement in citizen science: Insights from the participants’ survey analysis of CSI-COP” presents the results of surveys taken before and after training about citizen science. It turns out that despite of special preparation, the majority of people did not join a citizen science project. To avoid failure, this article helps to characterize these people, who did join.

The ROSiE e-training on responsible open science for citizen scientists explores the principles, values, and methods that enable citizen scientists to practice open science with integrity and accountability. Questions about ethics, risks, protection of participants, quality of outputs and data will be understandable after working through the training.

From this project report, “Public report on current methods in CS Engagement”, and from this review, “Recruiting and Retaining Participants in Citizen Science: What Can Be Learned from the Volunteering Literature?”, it is possible to find out what motivates participants to volunteer in projects. The papers focus on the skills and learning opportunities of citizen scientists during participation in projects and on factors which influence people to take part in citizen science projects.

Volunteers can collect data, make observations using their own mobile phones or other devices, but sometimes special gear is needed. Kits are composed and provided by scientists and can be handed out by libraries. Here is an example of a data collecting kit for volunteers. Libraries or citizen science hubs can be a perfect place where scientists can bring kits or tools for volunteers to borrow.

How to find volunteers with different background, how to achieve balanced and diverse participation in citizen science, taking into consideration gender, socio-economic and geographic factors? This project report, “Guidelines for Diverse Citizen Science Recruitment”, lets you discover the means to achieve these goals.

Some practical tips concerning participants in citizen science are also described in the report “Engaging Volunteers: Guide to Engaging Volunteers in Citizen Science Projects”.