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Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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Defining Citizen Science

The term "citizen science" has been used to describe a range of ideas, from a philosophy of public engagement in scientific discourse to the work of scientists driven by a social conscience.

In North America, citizen science typically refers to research collaborations between scientists and volunteers, particularly (but not exclusively) to expand opportunities for scientific data collection and to provide access to scientific information for community members.

As a working definition, we offer the following:

projects in which volunteers partner with scientists to answer real-world questions."


PDF icon Read more about the challenges and implications of developing a shared definition for citizen science.


Garter snake

Citizen science, volunteer monitoring, participatory action research... this site supports organizers of all initiatives where public participants are involved in scientific research.

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