Citizen Science Books to Help You Make a Difference

Citizen science is an exciting topic in this day-and-age. People other than trained scientists can contribute to science and nature conservation and help to make a difference! Here are some excellent books that will guide you in your efforts along these lines. 

Citizen Science: Public Participation in Environmental Research
From Brand: Comstock Publishing Associates


Citizen science enlists members of the public to make and record useful observations, such as counting birds in their backyards, watching for the first budding leaf in spring, or measuring local snowfall. The large numbers of volunteers who participate in projects such as Project FeederWatch or Project BudBurst collect valuable research data, which, when pooled together, create an enormous body of scientific data on a vast geographic scale. In return, such projects aim to increase participants' connections to science, place, and nature, while supporting science literacy and environmental stewardship. In Citizen Science, experts from a variety of disciplines—including scientists and education specialists working at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where many large citizen science programs use birds as proxies for biodiversity—share their experiences of creating and implementing successful citizen science projects, primarily those that use massive data sets gathered by citizen scientists to better understand the impact of environmental change.

Customer Review

5 stars
covers the basics very well 
By ephemeral

Citizen Science: Public Participation in Environmental Research is a collection of articles put together by the folks at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which is one of the hotbeds of citizen science activity in the US. As the title indicates, the book focuses on environmental (primarily biological) citizen science projects, but many of the key concepts are still relevant to people using citizen science in other fields. About half of the authors are from Cornell, so there is a definite species bias, but there are examples from plant and insect projects as well.

The book is divided into three parts:
-The Practice of Citizen Science describes the basics of what citizen science is and how it works, as well as providing some nice examples of how successful projects are run.
-Impacts of Citizen Science on Conservation Research discusses the role and potential roles for citizen science projects in legitimate conservation work.
-Educational, Social, and Behavioral Aspects of Citizen Science covers the benefits of citizen science outside of the traditional goal of collecting more data for large scale projects.

All told, this is a well written and extremely well edited book. The topic is very narrow, but I think anyone interested in citizen science (educators, scientists, volunteers) would benefit from reading it.

The Incidental Steward: Reflections on Citizen Science
By Akiko Busch


A search for a radio-tagged Indiana bat roosting in the woods behind her house in New York's Hudson Valley led Akiko Busch to assorted other encounters with the natural world - local ecological monitoring projects, community-organized cleanup efforts, and data-driven citizen science research. Whether pulling up water chestnuts in the Hudson River, measuring beds of submerged aquatic vegetation, or searching out vernal pools, all illuminated the role of ordinary citizens as stewards of place. In this elegantly written book, Busch highlights factors that distinguish twenty-first-century citizen scientists from traditional amateur naturalists: a greater sense of urgency, helpful new technologies, and the expanded possibilities of crowdsourcing. The observations here look both to precisely recorded data sheets and to the impressionistic marginalia, scribbled asides, and byways that often attend such unpredictable outings. While not a primer on the prescribed protocols of citizen science, the book combines vivid natural history, a deep sense of place, and reflection about our changing world. Musing on the expanding potential of citizen science, the author celebrates today's renewed volunteerism and the opportunities it offers for regaining a deep sense of connection to place.

Editorial Review

"'Sensuously lush and thought-provoking chronicles... This is a beautiful and incisive affirmation of how "full engagement with the natural world enriches the human experience".' (Donna Seaman, Booklist, starred review)"

Customer Review

5 stars
A wonderful place to start
By Ann Klefstad

Akiko Busch has written a deeply researched and personally experienced account of what ordinary people can do to advance both scientific knowledge of the natural world and its preservation. In vivid, spare writing she accounts for the both the difficulties of perception in a realm that is new to one and the rewards of training that perception. Her appendix listing various citizen science initiatives is invaluable, and the bibliography is also of great use. A wonderful book.

Be the Change: Saving the World with Citizen Science
By Chandra Clarke


Can You Save The World?

It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by everything that is wrong in the world. In 2010, there were 660,000 deaths from malaria. Dire predictions about climate change suggest that sea levels could rise enough to submerge both Los Angeles and London by 2100. Bees are dying, not by the thousands but by the millions. 

But what can you do? You’re just one person, right? The good news is that you *can* do something. 

It’s called citizen science, and it’s a way for ordinary people like you and me to do real, honest-to-goodness, help-answer-the-big-questions science. 

This book introduces you to a world in which it is possible to go on a wildlife survey in a national park, install software on your computer to search for a cure for cancer, have your smartphone log the sound pollution in your city, transcribe ancient Greek scrolls, or sift through the dirt from a site where a mastodon died 11,000 years ago—even if you never finished high school. 

Part I of Be the Change: Saving the World with Citizen Science will show you what citizen science is, how important it is, and why we need more of it. You will also find out how it can personally benefit you, how you can get involved, and what it might mean to you if you did. 

Part II provides a large list of projects that you can join right now, concisely explained, and organized by the level of involvement required. 

Citizen science is fun, it's easy, and you can get started today. Be the Change: Saving the World with Citizen Science will show you how.

Customer Review

5 stars
Ways that the average citizen can help advance scientific research and change the world
By Charles Ashbacher

There have been many dramatic changes in society as a consequence of the development and continued function of the internet and World Wide Web in combination with the widespread use of computers. One that could be the most significant is the ability for ordinary citizens to become involved in scientific projects. Over the years I have been heavily involved in two distributed computing projects, the SETI@Home and the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search. In both of these projects, the contributor downloads the software to their computer and then downloads specific work files. The computer will then examine the data on background and then report the results and acquire a new work file when the processing is complete.
There are many projects that the citizen can work on and not all of them require the heavy use of processing. A list of the current projects along with statements of philosophy is available on the Citizen Science Center website. This book briefly touches on these points and gives the ways in which a citizen can contribute, from donating to fund organizations and research, to having your computer process data files to using your eyes to examine images to gathering data in the field and serving as a test subject. A large number of projects are available for participation and it is a way for the average person to be a part of something that could have significant positive consequences for the world.

I strongly recommend this book and the Citizen Science Center website for people that want to help the advancement of science but don't feel that they have the skills to do so. As can be seen from these two resources, if you can connect to the web, you can contribute. With so many projects available, you will find something that you are interested in.

I certainly hope that this gets you on the road to contribution in this wonderful and rewarding arena. If you participate in a project, feel free to come back and leave a comment so others can hear about your rewarding experience!

Here is a citizen science article for birders:


Popular posts from this blog

"Coming home to a place he'd never been before"

Strikingly Beautiful Birds - Woodpeckers

Beautiful Birds of the High Arctic