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.


  • "Tag A Tiny" Tuna Fishing Program Tech

    "Tag A Tiny" Tuna Fishing Program

    Help the Large Pelagics Research Center improve scientific understanding of large fish and other species living in the open ocean by supporting and participating in cooperative research projects

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Molly Lutcavage, director, research professor DATES: Ongoing
  • ZomBee Watch The Sciences

    ZomBee Watch

    Help scientists track and study parasitized honeybees that have been turned into zombies

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: John Hafernik DATES: Ongoing
  • Update: The Quake-Catcher Network Tech

    Update: The Quake-Catcher Network

    Southern California residents called on to install mini-sensors that record earthquake data beneficial to science, emergency response and seismic safety

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Elizabeth Cochran DATES: Ongoing
  • National Moth Week July 2012 The Sciences

    National Moth Week July 2012

    Explore and record America's more than 10,000 moth species

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: David Moskowitz and Liti Haramaty DATES: Monday, July 23, 2012 - Sunday, July 29, 2012
  • Ancient Lives The Sciences

    Ancient Lives

    Help scholars transcribe and catalog ancient Greek papyri fragments

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Chris Lintott DATES: Ongoing
  • Panamath Mind


    Test your inborn ability to intuitively size up the number of objects in your everyday environment

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Justin Halberda DATES: Ongoing
  • Turing's Sunflowers The Sciences

    Turing's Sunflowers

    Grow sunflowers and put the mathematical theories of Alan Turing and other researchers to the test

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jonathan Swinton and Erinma Ochu DATES: Ongoing
  • Killer Whale Tracker The Sciences

    Killer Whale Tracker

    Monitor endangered Pacific Northwest killer whales by detecting orca sounds and measuring noise levels using hydrophones

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  • Lowell Amateur Research Initiative (LARI) Physics

    Lowell Amateur Research Initiative (LARI)

    Amateur astronomers can work on research projects with Lowell Observatory researchers

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  • Transit of Venus Computing

    Transit of Venus

    The Venus transit offers a chance for modern-day stargazers to repeat the experiments conducted by expeditions around the world in the 18th and 19th centuries--with a modern twist

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Steven van Roode DATES: Ongoing
  • Native Buzz The Sciences

    Native Buzz

    Learn more about the nesting preferences, diversity and distribution of indigenous solitary bees and wasps, share this information, and provide a forum for others interested in native beekeeping

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jason Graham, Honeybee Extension Lab DATES: Ongoing
  • WildObs Tech


    Record and share your photos and observations about wildlife

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  • North American Bird Phenology Program The Sciences

    North American Bird Phenology Program

    Help ornithologists make historical bird migration records available to the public via the Web

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jessica Zelt, Program Coordinator DATES: Ongoing
  • The UVA Bay Game Tech

    The UVA Bay Game

    Online game informs researchers and policymakers about caring for watershed areas

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jeffrey Plank, Associate Vice President for Research DATES: Ongoing
  • Wildlife Health Event Reporter The Sciences

    Wildlife Health Event Reporter

    Citizen scientists engaging in their regular work or recreational activities have tremendous potential to observe and record events that may identify important changes in the environment

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  • Update: Nature's Notebook The Sciences

    Update: Nature's Notebook

    Phenological citizen science project anticipates recording its millionth observation

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jake Weltzin, Executive Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Update: Old Weather and Naval History Tech

    Update: Old Weather and Naval History

    Old Weather Citizen Science project enlisted to help write naval history

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gordon Smith DATES: Ongoing
  • Solar-Storm Watch Climate

    Solar-Storm Watch

    Help solar scientists spot explosions on the sun and track them across space to Earth

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Chris Davis, Project Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • World Water Monitoring Challenge Health

    World Water Monitoring Challenge

    Test your local water and share the results globally

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: various regional scientists DATES: Ongoing

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