Citizen Science is often described as scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur or nonprofessional scientists who crowdsource their contributions as part of a wider research project.
Citizen Science unlocks new resources for research, experimentation and analysis, helping to provide answers to some of the big questions we have on how to address key social challenges. With more than one million volunteers, Zooniverse is one of the biggest citizen science platforms in the UK.
A great example of the social benefit from their work is their partnership with Cancer UK on launching Cell Slider, a project which to date has involved volunteers in analysing more than two million images of cancer cells. The open platform PyBossa from OKFN was created to help power many other types of crowdsourcing inspired by the citizen science movement.
Where Cellslider focuses on involving citizens in analysing existing raw data, other citizen science projects involve volunteers in creating whole new bodies of knowledge. Through uploading geotagged images of the night sky, the Dark Sky Meter enables citizen to contribute to research measuring light pollution.
Other projects such as Patientslikeme, a social network for over 200.000 people living with a chronic health condition, enable people to upload their personal health data, such as side effects to different drugs or impact of treatments, to a database shared with other patients and researchers.
Looking across the relatively large samples of personal health data, researchers have access to a much richer picture of what works and what doesn’t in the treatment of different conditions.