"A BES Grant helped me start a new project, and funded a research assistant for the summer."

Matthew Spencer Research Grant recipient

Citizen Science

Citizen ScienceCitizenSci_final


Helen Roy and Michael Pocock

Citizen science, broadly defined as the involvement of volunteers in research, has a long history but the past decade has seen a rapid increase in the number of citizen-science

initiatives available across the world, spanning diverse areas of interest and ranging from local to global. Citizen science provides an indispensable means of combining primary ecological research with environmental education and public engagement with science – it includes wildlife recording, but is much, much more than this.  The wealth of technology available to support and inspire new citizen science initiatives and opportunities is rapidly expanding and has enabled citizen science to become global in scale, long-term in ambition and engage hundreds of thousands of volunteers in many different scientific pursuits.  We will provide a forum for sharing experience, expertise and providing a community to foster and support creativity and innovation in research through citizen science.


  • To promote the value of citizen science
  • To provide a forum for sharing details of current citizen science in ecology, and as a community to foster and support creativity and innovation in research via citizen science
  • To develop links with relevant initiatives across disciplines
  • To foster collaborations on citizen science globally
  • To provide a network for students and volunteers who want to support citizen science projects and develop their own
  • To encourage networking and sharing of expertise amongst people interested in citizen science including volunteers, researchers and policy-makers

Current/Future Meetings:

BES Annual Meeting 2015
13 – 16 December

Citizen Science SIG Event
Monday 14 December, 19:00

Citizen Science Unsprung (the antidote to contributed sessions?) A unique opportunity to pitch your citizen science projects without hesitation, deviation or repetition. Come along for a glass of wine and to discover more about the exciting diversity of citizen science. Whether you are a grand master of citizen science or a new kid on the block, bring your best pitch (for existing projects and those in development) to attempt to amaze the audience and persuade them of your ‘genius’ in ’just a minute’. Together we’ll create a ‘museum of curiosity’ and catch up on both established and the very newest activities.

The first year of the Citizen Science SIG was an adventure! We were delighted to be involved in so many events from linking with the Macroecology SIG and Invasive Species SIG for one day events to a two day extravaganza in Oxford with participants including a guest appearance from BBC celebrity and science enthusiast extraordinaire Dallas Campbell. Some of us attended the LEAF Open Farm Sunday to lead pollinator surveys alongside farm visitors. A buzzing year!

As we move into the second year of the group we have a great programme of events scheduled– we look forward to your involvement. If you would like to receive regular updates from the SIG or get actively involved then please e-mail citizenscience@ceh.ac.uk and join the group.

Citizen Science Association Conference

Date: 11-12 February 2015
Location: San Jose, California

Contact: Jonathan Silvertown (University of Edinburgh)

Ecologists, including members of the BES SIG, have played an important role in the founding of new society Citizen Science Association and the planning of its first conference. The conference will provide an opportunity for practitioners and researchers from across the field of citizen science to discuss successes and challenges in designing, implementing, sustaining, and evaluating projects. BES is a sponsor of this conference and we look forward to collaborating with the Citizen Science Association in the future.

Partnerships in Citizen Science: past, present and future

21 March 2015
Location: Ulster Museum, Belfast
Contact: Damian McFerran (CEDaR)

Wildlife recording across the UK has a long history; it provides an example of the earliest citizen science and is the topic for this day conference at the Ulster Museum. It is being run by the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (CEDaR) as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations. CEDaR is the Local Records Centre (LRC) for Northern Ireland and its role is to collect, collate, manage and disseminate information relating to the habitats and distribution of the flora and fauna within Northern Ireland and its coastal waters. For further details on CEDaR, the day conference and the other celebration events held during the year please visit http://www.nmni.com/cedar.

BES Citizen Science SIG events May 2015

The BES Citizen Science SIG is running two events back-to-back in May. You can attend one or both so please select the appropriate ticket. Registration fees cover coffee breaks and lunches on both days. Registration is open online now!

Event 1: A training event for citizen science: What you need to know, but no one told you! 

Monday 11th May 2015 10.30am for an 11.15 start until 6.00pm
Organiser: Michael Pocock

Location: Charles Darwin House, London

There is a huge increase in the number citizen science projects and this has been accompanied by sharing of best practice in setting up and running projects (including through the Citizen Science SIG). However, there are many other aspects to running excellent, effective and legal citizen science projects. This training day will provide the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge in:

  • Evaluating projects (formative and summative), (should I evaluate? How do I?)
  • Ethics involved with dealing with people (e.g. is it OK to study citizen science participants? do you need their permission?),
  • Working with children and schools (incl. legal arrangements, best practice for contacting schools, what about CRB checks etc.),
  • Data management and data protection issues (can I store people’s names? And email addresses? Is it ok to use surveymonkey for online citizen science?)
  • Media and social media (how to contact journalists and promote projects, how to make sure tv producers don’t edit out your project name)

Event 2: Understanding Participants Interactive Workshop

Tuesday 12th May 2015 10.00am – 4.30pm
Organisers: Alison Dyke (University of York), Hilary Geoghegan (University of Reading), Rachel Pateman (University of York).

Location: Charles Darwin House, London

As citizen science becomes an increasingly used and accepted method within the natural sciences, there has been much discussion around the scientific and data dimensions of citizen science. However, the socio-personal dynamics of participation in citizen science have remained largely unexplored. This workshop will showcase experiences from researchers and practitioners involved in citizen science projects. We would like to invite contributions from researchers working in this area.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Narratives of participation and engagement
  • Cultures of amateur natural history, traditional expert amateur groups
  • Age, gender and ethnicity in citizen science – overused and underused communities
  • Temporalities and spatialities of citizen science participation
  • Methodologies and techniques both for looking at (i) citizen science socio-dynamics and (ii) the impacts of citizen science methodologies and techniques themselves
  • Curiosity, creativity and emotion.

Please send a 150 word summary of your potential contribution to both Alison.dyke@york.ac.uk and h.geoghegan@reading.ac.uk by Friday 20th March. The organisers will determine the final format of the event based on these contributions and will respond by Friday 27th March.

Science in the city: Urban citizen science

3 September 2015
Location: University of Glasgow

Registration is live now!

Rather than encouraging people to get out into the wilds of Britain, increasingly citizen science projects are being brought in to where the people are: our towns and cities. Working on citizen science in urban areas brings a new ranges of challenges, but there are also huge opportunities for mass participation in ecological science, including from people who never leave the comfort of their own home.

Held in partnership with RSPB Scotland and the University of Glasgow, this one day meeting will bring together people interested in finding out more about the current projects that are running, the pitfalls and opportunities of citizen projects in urban areas, and some of the new technology that makes this possible.

The day will have three themed sessions:
• Technology for science in the city
• Citizen science as a tool for urban engagement and education
• Challenges overcome and future developments

If you are interested in presenting your work at the meeting or would like to use the opportunity to run a short workshop, we have slots available. Please email and abstract of your talk or workshop to Hannah Grist by the end of July, or use this address if you have any questions.

Ecology Live

7-10 Sepember 2015
Location: Bradford

Contact: Helen Roy (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology)

We are hoping to attend the British Science Association Science Festival in Bradford (http://www.britishscienceassociation.org/british-science-festival/bradford-2015) to enlighten people to the wonderful world of insect parasites (some say it can’t be done!). The talented David Urry (Society of Biology) will be writing a musical accompaniment and we will be inviting participants to get up close to sexually-transmitted diseases (and other parasites) of ladybirds.

June TBA
Partnerships in Citizen Science: Past, Present and Future
Location: Northern Ireland     

Festival of Citizen Ccience: Ecology of Ladybird Parasites.
Locations: Latitude and Green Man



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