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Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Manuals for collaborative research and monitoring

Gain new ideas, on topics from data analysis to project fundraising, by exploring materials written from different perspectives.

Manuals for collaborative research and monitoring

One source of online resources for partnerships researching any topic, water or otherwise (link below)

Public participants are involved not just in different fields of scientific research (from water quality to worms), but also in different traditions of research (from volunteer monitoring to participatory action research). 

One of the goals of this website is to help share best practices across different communities of practice. Exploring how different project types approach and support monitoring partnerships can offer new ideas on everything from research to recruitment. A recent report specifically suggests that cross-pollinating different approaches to collaborative research could enhance educational outcomes for participants.

Whether designing or refining a project, take the opportunity to check out resources that may seem, at first blush, to be designed for a different field. A few robust project design "manuals" are described below, each compiled from a different perspective. More can be found in  the Broad Resources in the Toolkit. If you know of some that aren't listed there, please let us know as we would love for this list to grow.


Three manuals to explore:

Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring National Facilitation Project
"...a comprehensive support system for Extension volunteer water quality monitoring efforts across the country." Includes thoughts on data management systems, building credibility, fundraising, sharing information online, and many other resources.
Sponsored by USDA, CSREES, and the Land Grant System

Broadening Participation in Biological Monitoring: Guidelines for Scientists and Managers
"...useful to anyone interested in participatory processes and biological monitoring." Covers such diverse topics as selecting biological indicators, designing a safety plan for field work, understanding participants' incentives, planning for data analysis, and much more.
Supported by the Institute for Culture and Ecology

Managers' Monitoring Manual
" to design a wildlife monitoring program." Although not specific to citizen science, this manual walks you through critical steps for research planning including choosing what to monitor and where to sample, dealing with variability in data, and provides worksheets for documenting why each monitoring choice is made.
Compiled by USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Compare what each resource has to offer: check out the refining protocols page in the Toolkit.


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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