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What is citizen science?

Citizen science is a great way for anyone and everyone to get involved in contributing to the advancement of science for the benefit of all. Citizen science has involved amateur astronomers using their own telescopes helping NASA to explore images of the planet Jupiter, to being involved in nature projects, such as ‘big butterfly count’ from the BBC.

NASA: Get Involved: NASA Solve. Accessed March 17, 2020 from here.
JunoCam Jupiter project. NASA JunoCam. Accessed March 17, from here.
BBC: Do Something Great. BBC Citizen science. Accessed March 17, 2020 from here.

To learn more about the history of citizen science , please see the EU-Citizen.Science website here:


Who are citizen scientists?

In a way, we are all scientists from childhood. We are constantly exploring our environment testing hypotheses: touching this, smelling that, looking at things, listening to sounds, communicating, learning what is safe and applying that knowledge for our survival. Citizen scientists are motivated individuals and groups who don’t want to be led into a future, they actively want to shape it through their interests in a variety of topics and scientific fields.

From SciStarter citizen scientists “are curious or concerned people who collaborate with professional scientists in ways that advance scientific research on topics they care about.

Link for SciStarter.

Is citizen science important?

Best way to show the important contribution of citizen science is through Caren Cooper’s 2017 TEDx talk:
“Science is not just for scientists.” There are ways that everyone can be involved and contribute.
Caren Cooper Author of “Citizen Science: How Ordinary People Are Changing the Face of Discovery.” She is Associate Professor in Forestry & Environmental Resources at NC State; in the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program in Leadership in Public Science; and runs “Sparrow Swap” citizen science through her lab at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.
Link to TEDx talk

Is it free to take part?

Yes. Citizen science projects are free for citizen scientists to participate. Their participation is voluntary.You can take an informal education online course (MOOC).

Citizen science projects: What kinds of projects can citizen scientists get involved in?

Hundreds of citizen science projects can be found investigating many scientific fields on websites such as SciStarter, Zooniverse (people-powered research), as well as the BBC, and NASA. You might also learn about citizen science projects from your local library or local and national museums.

Links for BBC: Do Something Great. BBC Citizen science. Accessed March 17, 2020 from here:
Get Involved: NASA Solve. Accessed March 17, 2020 from here:
JunoCam Jupiter project: NASA JunoCam. Accessed March 17, from here:

In the current corona virus pandemic, organisations are stepping involving citizen scientists to better understand the nature of the virus, and help reduce its devastating effect on the human body.

In Barcelona, EduCaixa has created a ‘Corona virus community lab’ to “help improve Covid-19 crisis management”. More information on EduCaixa’s initiative can be found at this link.

The University of California are engaging citizen scientists in a COVID-19 citizen science project to identify behaviour that influence risk. More information can be found on their SciStarter page here.

What is GDPR?
The general data protection regulations (GDPR) provide “stronger rules on data protection” so that “people have more control over their personal data and businesses benefit from a level playing field.”
Link for GDPR.

More specifically:

  • The GDPR sets a high standard for consent.
  • Consent means offering individuals real choice and control.
  • Genuine consent should put individuals in charge, build trust and engagement, and enhance your reputation.
  • Consent requires a positive opt-in.
  • Explicit consent requires a very clear and specific statement of consent.
Link for more information on the GDPR.

Additionally, you can watch a short video ‘What is GDPR?’ on the BBC website here.

What are cookies?
  • “… are small text files that websites place on your device as you are browsing.”
  • “… can store a wealth of data, enough to potentially identify you without your consent.”
  • “…are a primary tool that advertisers use to track your online activity so that they can target you with highly specific ads”

Below is a short animation (without sound) showing you how to switch off cookies in a website. The animation demonstrates how to avoid ‘Accept cookies’ and look for ‘manage’, ‘reject’ or similar options.

Link for more information on cookies
What are trackers?
Cookies enable tracking of your movements around the web and your behaviour on websites, such as purchasing an item. Tracking cookies can send information from your website or smart phone app usage to third-parties (for example, a marketing company) without your explicit knowledge. This then allows the marketing company to send you marketing communication (e.g. promotions, sweepstakes) based on your choices (such as purchases) learnt from your behaviour on the web, or while using apps.