Citizen Science

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Citizen scientist logs shoreline plastics, 2015.

Citizen science refers to people without accredited science degrees doing science, with or without accredited scientists.

There’s a wide spectrum of citizen science practices. Most commonly, people can gather or analyze data for accredited scientists: they can count birds in their backyard and log the information, or look at ariel photos and count the seals. In this scenario, citizen scientists work for scientists without compensation, doing whatever the scientists want in whatever way they want it done. Deviations are considered errors. Citizen scientists have no say over how the research is done or what it means.

At the other end of the spectrum, there is participatory citizen science where people without science degrees set the research priorities and questions, craft research designs, gather the data, and analyze it according to their priorities and insights. This can be done with or without accredited scientists.

CLEAR engages in the full spectrum of citizen science activities. We have a number of projects that rely on citizen scientists for data, as well as projects that have been shaped in whole or in part by citizen scientists.

Citizen Science Projects:

  • Fish Tag Project: Citizen Scientists report when they find Newfoundland and Labrador fish tags washed up in Europe (mostly Scotland). We’ve hired one citizen science beachcomber who is also an expert on things that wash up on beaches.
  • Guts for science: People can send in their fish, bird, and seal guts (and the guts of anything else they hunt for food) to us for analysis for plastics. Usually we ask for ~30 guts from one area, and there is a specific protocol.
  • Shoreline plastic surveys and beach clean ups: If you’re doing a beach clean up, we’d love it if you logged what you find with the Marine Debris Tracker app, which makes the data public.

We also create a range of technologies and guides for citizen scientists to take science into their own hands, without us.

Citizen Science Guides: