Citizen science is a rapidly growing, collaborative method of engagement which allows non-professionals (as volunteers) the opportunity to participate and contribute to scientific research. These working partnerships can include volunteers from the general community, educators, students and businesses and the outcomes of citizen science projects results in many mutual scientific, education and engagement benefits.
Scientific projects requiring ‘citizen scientists’ have expanded almost exponentially in the last 10 years (largely as a result of the internet) and consequently, the design, delivery and analysis of scientific projects incorporating citizen scientists is rapidly changing.
Citizen science stakeholders are now forming local and national ‘communities of practice’ such as the European Citizen Science Association and the (American) Citizen Science Association to ensure all aspects of citizen science (including science communication, volunteer recruitment and retention, data analysis and scientific methodology) utilise the latest research and best practice methods.
In Australia, there are over 100 citizen science projects spanning the medical, astronomy and environmental fields. The grass roots nature of many of these projects means it is difficult for individual projects to have the resources to connect with the wider citizen science movement. The development of larger communities of practice such as national networks or associations can make it easier for all citizen science stakeholders to communicate with other projects, connect volunteers and learn from experts.
In order to have a strong and active citizen science community within Australia we need to ensure our vision, goals and objectives align with those of managers, community volunteers, researchers, educators and sponsors involved in citizen science.
So, what would you like to see from Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA)?