What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.


  • iCoast: Did the Coast Change? More Science

    iCoast: Did the Coast Change?

    Help U.S. Geological Survey scientists study storm aftermaths and coastal changes

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  • New York Horseshoe Monitoring Network More Science

    New York Horseshoe Monitoring Network

    Help researchers collect data and to acquire biological information on horseshoe crabs in New York’s Marine District

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Matthew Sclafani/John Maniscalo DATES: Ongoing
  • iSeahorse More Science


    A tool for improving scientists’ understanding of seahorses and protecting them from overfishing and other threats

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Amanda Vincent DATES: Ongoing
  • Ocean Sampling Day (OSD) More Science

    Ocean Sampling Day (OSD)

    Help marine scientists worldwide study ocean samples taken during the 2014 summer solstice

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Julia Schnetzer, Ph.D. student DATES: Saturday, June 21, 2014 - Saturday, June 21, 2014
  • MySwan (Australia) More Science

    MySwan (Australia)

    Australians can help scientists study black swans living at Albert Park Lake, in the urban heart of Melbourne

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Raoul Mulder, Associate Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Where's the Elderberry Longhorn Beetle? More Science

    Where's the Elderberry Longhorn Beetle?

    Help an evolutionary biologist and entomologist track the declining population of Elderberry Longhorn Beetle

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Dan Duran, Assistant Teaching Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Mountain Watch More Science

    Mountain Watch

    Hikers, families, school groups and conservationists can help scientists make observations along the U.S.’s Eastern Appalachian mountains and other northeast areas

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Georgia Murray, Staff Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • iSeeChange Everyday Science


    Contribute to a socially networked weather Almanac for communities to collectively journal climate observations, questions and decisions against near-real time climate information

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Julia Kumari Drapkin DATES: Ongoing
  • SatCam Technology


    Capture observations of sky and ground conditions at the same time that an Earth observation satellite is overhead

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  • Clock Your Sleep Everyday Science

    Clock Your Sleep

    Track your slumber in the city that never sleeps, and elsewhere

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  • Air Visibility Monitoring Science Education

    Air Visibility Monitoring

    Help USC researchers study air visibility using an Android smartphone and app

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gaurav Sukhatme, Professor and Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Happy Match Biology

    Happy Match

    In this twist on the on the classic quiz game, players participate in scientific research by classifying photos of animal, plant and insect species

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Kevin Crowston and Jun Wang DATES: Ongoing
  • Forgotten Island Science Education

    Forgotten Island

    Contribute to scientific knowledge while playing this adventure game

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Kevin Crowston and Jun Wang DATES: Ongoing
  • Marine Animal Identification Network (MAIN) Biology

    Marine Animal Identification Network (MAIN)

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  • The Smell Experience Project Health

    The Smell Experience Project

    Help researchers understand how and why a person’s sense of smell might change over time

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Dolores Malaspina, MD, MSPH, Director of InSPIRES DATES: Ongoing
  • How Radioactive Is Our Ocean? Health

    How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?

    Help U.S. marine scientists monitor the spread of radiation across the Pacific Ocean from Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Ken Buesseler, Senior Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Project Star Date M83 More Science

    Zooniverse: Project Star Date M83

    Study Hubble telescope images to help identify the ages of the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy’s (M83) many star clusters.

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  • Weddell Seal Population Count More Science

    Weddell Seal Population Count

    Help scientists in the field monitor the Weddell seal population in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jay Rotella, Robert Garrott and Don Siniff DATES: Ongoing
  • The Snowtweets Project More Science

    The Snowtweets Project

    Citizen scientists can help Canadian researchers map snow depths worldwide using Twitter

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Richard Kelly, Professor DATES: Ongoing
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