What is citizen science?

Citizen science involves the public, i.e. people who are not researchers, helping researchers to investigate certain questions. The most common way is by helping researchers to collect and/or review large amounts of data, on a scale that would be impossible for researchers to achieve on their own. This may involve, for example, reporting observations of plants or animals, transcribing old letters or classifying images of galaxies. Citizen science can also involve collaboratively formulating research questions, testing methods, and compiling or communicating findings.

Citizen science involves researchers co-creating with the public in some way during the research process. Illustration by: Lotta W Tomasson/VA CC BY-NC 2.0

Why citizen science?

There are several advantages to citizen science. Perhaps the most obvious is that citizen science helps researchers to speed up scientific progress. In addition, citizen science can be a way of engaging people who would not otherwise come into contact with research. Citizens gain better knowledge of what research entails and how it is conducted, something that over time can increase their confidence in science, build relationships and create dialogue between researchers and society.

VA is involved in various projects that promote citizen science:

Related terms

Crowd-sourced science, civic science and  participatory action research

Citizen Science is ”Medborgarforskning” in Swedish.

Further information:

Relevant social media hashtags:
#citizenscience and #citsci