Citizen Science refers to any scientific work performed by somebody who is not a professional scientist. These days, we usually think of citizen scientists as people contributing a few minutes of their day in some massive distributed project. They’ll perform simple tasks through a website or app, and the collected results from all the volunteers around the world make a valuable contribution to some serious research.
But we believe that this is only the latest, most modern form of citizen science – anybody volunteering their time or expertise to assist “real” researchers is a citizen scientist. Anybody collecting data or processing results voluntarily, outside of traditional academic or private research organizations, is a citizen scientist. Any amateur astronomer measuring variable stars, or counting meteors, or reporting their observations to a professional body, is a citizen scientist.
Call for research assistance
We were recently contacted by Nonsikelelo Sackey, who is conducting research on citizen science projects for her masters degree at Stellenbosch University. If you are involved in the running or operation of a citizen science project, and are willing to be interviewed by her, please contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Citizen Science Section
The Citizen Science section of the Astronomical Society of South Africa exists to promote citizen science, We do this on two levels:
- We want to help volunteers find projects where they can do the most good with the time, skills and resources they’re willing to share.
- Show off our participation as a society, by recording which projects are supported by our members, and announcing their achievements (awards, special results, publications, etc)
Citizen scientists are a lot more effective when researchers set up projects for them to join. We maintain a list of projects that we support as a society, and offer our own assistance for anybody who would like to create a project but isn’t sure how to proceed.