Citizen science

Victoria Fast, Billy Tusker Haworth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Citizen science refers to the participation of nonprofessional volunteers in scientific practices, predominantly collecting or analyzing data. Geographical citizen science denotes a subset, whereby locational information is integral to the scientific study. While enjoying resurgence in recent decades, largely associated with burgeoning Internet and communication technologies and societal shifts toward increased civic participation in government and other professional activities, citizen science is not new. There are centuries-old known cases of citizens collecting data for scientific endeavors, such as the recording of bird sightings. Today, citizen science encompasses a much wider variety of practices. These include donating idle computing power for data analysis, processing data through interpreting images or playing games, observing and submitting records of phenomena in the physical world, or even scientific problem definition and project design. Citizen science challenges the traditional notion that scientific knowledge production is reserved for professionals and offers numerous opportunities for both geographic science and citizens, such as reducing time and resource costs and increased public engagement in science. But there are also important considerations, including issues of uneven societal access to participation, geographic and other sampling biases, data quality, and participant motivation, among others.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational encyclopedia of human geography (Second Edition)
EditorsAudrey Kobayashi
PublisherElsevier BV
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780081022962
ISBN (Print)9780081022955
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2019


  • Citizen science
  • Citizens
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Data analysis
  • Data collection
  • Digital divide
  • Distributed computing
  • Geographic information
  • Geographical citizen science
  • Knowledge production
  • Participatory science
  • Public participation
  • User-generated content
  • Volunteered geographic information
  • Volunteers

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


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