Skip to content. Skip to navigation

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

News >

Ethics and citizen science, discussion forum

EList update 13 SEPT 2011: Launching the discussion forum on with a conversation about addressing ethical considerations.

(From the e-list, 13 SEPT 2011. Interested in subscribing? Click here!)

Hi folks,

"Include an ethics step."

This was one big recommendation of a conference working group that set out to enhance the Toolkit for Project Development, which is organized around a series of steps for citizen science project design.

This week, we are starting what will become a series of monthly discussions* at by asking:

"What ethical issues should be considered in the design or management of a citizen science project?"

Here's why your input is important...

When we put together the Toolkit back in 2007, following a conference held at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, we (at were just starting to understand how many different kinds of projects are out there, and how many different ways the public can be involved as partners in scientific research.

We know that each of you, working in different contexts, have had to come up with your own strategies for project design, including how to address ethical dilemmas. Although your projects are different, we suspect that many have common ethical considerations... and that your own innovative solutions may help others address issues they might not anticipate.

Your experiences are valuable, as are your questions. Take a moment and share some thoughts this week, and help us kick off this discussion series*. I look forward to the conversation...


Jennifer and the team

*IMPORTANT: This question is just the first in a series of monthly discussions that aim to improve citizen science practice by learning from others in this field. Ethics not your cup of tea? Suggest other topics you'd like to discuss!

To join this elist, visit


With questions, email us at


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

More about this...