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Zooniverse: Notes from Nature

Zooniverse: Notes from Nature

Natural history museums across the world share a common goal—to make scientific data accessible to those who would use it. Zooniverse’s Notes from Nature project gives citizen scientists the opportunity to make a scientifically important contribution. Every transcription that is completed brings researchers closer to filling gaps in our knowledge of global biodiversity. Help museum staff and scientists by transcribing the labels and ledgers that have been meticulously recorded and stored for the very reason that they might be someday be useful.

People have been collecting specimens from the natural world for centuries—minerals, plants, fungi and animals. Today, there are an estimated two billion specimens housed in natural history museums around the world! These biological collections document where species and populations exist now and where they existed decades and centuries before, so they hold irreplaceable information necessary for uncovering the patterns of changes in species distributions and ecosystem composition over time. Scientists use such data and information in order to address key environmental issues we are facing right now, such as the impacts of climate change and how diseases affect wildlife and humans.

For the information held in these collections to be used to its full potential there must be better digital access to these data. Most natural history collections are housed in museum cabinets, where they are not easily available to citizens and researchers. Only a small fraction of all natural history specimens is available digitally over the Internet, while the vast majority remains locked away from view in an inflexible, limited format. The Notes from Nature transcription project is a citizen science platform built to address this problem by digitizing the world’s biological collections one record at a time!

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Arfon Smith, Director of Citizen Science
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: The Zooniverse
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Data Processing
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
  • TIME COMMITMENT: Variable
  • HOW TO JOIN:

    Visit the Notes by Nature project site and sign up for an account.

See more projects in FreeData ProcessingAll Ages.

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.

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