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Citizen science: Involvement of lay people

In citizen science, projects are carried out with the help of interested lay people. Increasingly, the method is being used in academic disciplines.

[Translate to English:] Woman with camera at a glacier

Image: John Salvino (@jsalvino) on

Citizen science, the active involvement of lay people without academic education in the project specific scientific process, has recently experienced an increase in academic fields and projects. The involvement can happen in many different ways, depending on the specifications of the project and the context. The popularity of citizen science goes hand in hand with the discussion about open science and in fact both concepts are deeply connected with each other. Whereas in open science lay people do not have to be involved in a project necessarily, citizen science often uses open science methods and tools to make this active involvement possible.

Data collection: an example from the astrophysical field

Citizen scientists are often involved in data collection processes through specific platforms. For example, in a study published in The Astronomical Journal, a group of citizen scientists called “Exoplanets Explorers” identified a small temperate planet. The authors of the article point out the importance of the role of citizen scientists in data collection and validation from planetary systems and aim to foster the engagement with the public via outreach and social media.

  • Feinstein, A. D., Schlieder, J. E., Livingston, J. H., Ciardi, D. R.,  Howard, A. W., Arnold, L., … Treasure, J. (2019). K2-288Bb: A Small Temperate Planet in a Low-mass Binary System Discovered by Citizen  Scientists. The Astronomical Journal, 157(2), 40.

Recent publications

We would like to point out two current publications on citizen science. Additionally to an introduction to the topic, the authors explore the developments of citizen science in Austria in the last years, case studies and practices from the USA and Europe as well as the supporting role of libraries.

  • Dörler, D. und Heigl, F. (2019) „Citizen Science in Österreich“, Mitteilungen der Vereinigung Österreichischer Bibliothekarinnen und Bibliothekare, 72(2), S. 317-327. doi: 10.31263/voebm.v72i2.2836
  • Ignat, T., Cavalier, D. und Nickerson, C. (2019) „Citizen Science und Bibliotheken: Walzer tanzen auf dem Weg zur Zusammenarbeit“, Mitteilungen der Vereinigung Österreichischer Bibliothekarinnen und Bibliothekare, 72(2), S. 328-336. doi: 10.31263/voebm.v72i2.3047

6th Austrian Citizen Science Conference

From May 6 to May 8 2020, the Austrian Citizen Science Conference brings together people involved in citizen science projects, as well as those interested in it. Save the date to find out more about this Austrian network., opens an external URL in a new window