Science Community Science

Participatory Community Science

Participatory Community Science usually involves volunteers collecting data, following simple data collection protocols. Projects are initiated and managed by professional scientists, who also analyze and publish the data. Projects may involve volunteers in varying degrees in the project design, data collection and data analysis. In some cases volunteers may be involved in all aspects of the research projects, working with professional scientists.

The earliest community science project of this type is probably the Christmas Bird Count that has been run by the National Audubon Society in the USA every year since 1900. Community scientists now participate in projects on climate change, invasive species, conservation biology, ecological restoration, water quality monitoring, population ecology and monitoring of all kinds.

There is no reason why citizens themselves should not be able to do science. Community science projects can be initiated and designed by citizens themselves. One model for citizen science involves a Community-based, Participatory Research Model, or “science by the people.” This model is also called “Participatory Action Research.” What this model attempts to do is have the community define the problem, design the study, collect the samples, analyze the samples, and actually interpret the data.

Community science was originally called Citizen Science. The term Citizen Science, however, is becoming increasingly problematic since “citizen” excludes immigrants as well as Indigenous communities.

Further Reading

Liebenberg, L., //Ao, . /Am ., Lombard, M., Shermer, M., Xhukwe, . /Uase ., Biesele, M., //xao, D., Carruthers, P., Kxao, . ≠Oma ., Hansson, S.O., Langwane, H. (Karoha) ., Elbroch, L.M., /Ui, N., Keeping, D., Humphrey, G., Newman, G., G/aq’o, . /Ui ., Steventon, J., Kashe, N., Stevenson, R., Benadie, K., du Plessis, P., Minye, J., /Kxunta, . /Ui ., Ludwig, B., Daqm, . ≠Oma ., Louw, M., Debe, D. and Voysey, M., 2021. Tracking Science: An Alternative for Those Excluded by Citizen Science. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 6(1), p.6. DOI:

Liebenberg, Louis. 2015. Citizen science: creating an inclusive, global network for conservation. The Guardian.

Liebenberg, L., et al., 2016. Smartphone Icon User Interface design for non-literate trackers and its implications for an inclusive citizen science, Biological Conservation,

To get involved in Citizen Science you can find projects here: