Becoming A Scientist Without A Scientific Background: Citizen Science

Citizen science, also known as participatory science or community science, is a
shared achievement or attempt where anyone, anywhere, regardless of their scientific background, can devote themselves to real scientific projects by helping
collect valuable data. Citizen science is reconstructing the way research is
performed and is invaluable for science/scientists.

Science develops on data. The more data scientists have, the better they can
understand complicated phenomena, identify sequences, and test assumptions or
theories. Nevertheless, gathering data routinely can be time-consuming, expensive, and lack specialized and functional skills; citizen science bridges this gap by various aspects.

With grand groups of citizen scientists, researchers collect data from large
geographic areas in extended periods of time, this scales up data collection and
gathers the data as something which might have been impossible to do for a small
group. Citizen scientists come from all different scientific and ethnic backgrounds,
that's why they bring unique perspectives and diverse regional knowledge to data
collection. This can be invaluable when studying local ecosystems or environmental changes and show the importance of diversity in research. Participatory science furthers the sense of community and partnership in scientific discovery. It allows many people to connect with science in a valuable way and see whatever impact their own contributions have made on global research. This boosts public engagement.

The beauty of citizen science is in its accessibility. There are numerous projects
suited for all interests and skill levels. If you want to get started, first of all you need to find a project. There are websites like “SciStarter” and “Zooniverse” that connect you with projects across different disciplines from medicine to astronomy. Next, you will need to choose your contribution. How you will have an impact, which area you will contribute to and how you will participate. There are various ways of doing this. You could observe things in your backyard, classify images, monitor air quality, record videos of animals, or even transcribe scientific data, and so much more! Last but not least, you need to devote your will and time to your project. Projects require time commitments and if you plan them correctly it will allow you to participate at your own pace.

To put it in a nutshell, you now know what citizen science is, why it's important, and how you can get involved. Finally, let's talk about citizen science in action; projects that made a real difference.

Launched in 2007, “Galaxy Zoo” enlists citizen scientists to classify galaxies from
millions of images captured by telescopes. This massive data collector helped
astronomers understand the large-scale structure of the universe, helping in space

Global initiative “eBird” allows birdwatchers to submit sightings online. This data has been invaluable for tracking bird populations, migration patterns and the impacts of climate change on bird’s tracks.

“Seafloor Explorer” uses citizen scientists to identify features on the ocean floor by
using sonar images. This helps researchers identify ecological areas and map the
ocean floor by seeing significance.

Citizen science is not just about collecting data; it's about allowing the public to be active participants in scientific discovery without coming from scientific backgrounds. By contributing your time, curiosity and will, you can help solve real-world challenges that will have a lasting impact on the scientific community and the way research is conducted. So, why not join the movement and become a citizen scientist today?

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Authored by Selin Ada

TED Mersin College Private High School; Mersin, Turkey.