What is Citizen Science?
Citizen science is part of open science. It involves public volunteers in various scientific projects. Citizen science projects include small projects of civic associations, as well as large scientific projects of professional scientists. In citizen science projects, volunteers actively participate–they collect material and data or conduct observations in the field. Volunteers cooperate with professional scientists, research institutions, or non-profit organizations that coordinate them. Citizen scientists are often amateur enthusiasts without any formal education related to the research but have a personal connection to it. Thanks to citizen science, anybody can become a citizen scientist. There are no limits. Neither age, education, nor literacy is essential.
Interest in citizen science abroad has grown recently, and people often encounter it. In Slovakia, however, citizens and scientists still need to become more familiar with it; therefore, we are trying to make citizen sciences known to the public through our website and an online course on citizen science.
The benefits of citizen science include new opportunities for developing science and society. Furthermore, the connection between scientists and the public is also easier nowadays, thanks to new technologies often used in projects.
Basic Principles of Citizen Science
It is not easy to define citizen science because of the diversity of projects and approaches. To differentiate citizen science projects from other types of scientific projects, we can use 10 Principles of Citizen Science developed by ECSA (ECSA (European Citizen Science Association). 2015. Ten Principles of Citizen Science. Berlin. http://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/XPR2N). They represent a best practice guideline on what constitutes good citizen science; they have been translated into more than 30 languages. Translations are stored in the Zenodo repository (see the link above).