What is Citizen Science?
In 2018 the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine provided a definition of "citizen science" as part of the consensus report, Learning Through Citizen Science: Enhancing Opportunities by Design:
Citizen science projects are those that typically involve nonscientists (i.e., people who are not professionally trained in project-relevant disciplines) in the processes, methods, and standards of research, with the intended goal of advancing scientific knowledge or application. The committee found it useful to think about this description as it relates to specific examples. A project in which community members collect stream data using well-established protocols to monitor stream health fits this description of citizen science, but the same project where only professional water quality technicians collect the data would not. A project where students collect water quality data solely for their own edification does not fit the committee’s description of citizen science. That is not to say that a purely educational project cannot share in the strategies and practices that have been developed for and proven effective in citizen science, but the committee notes the use of those practices in service of a larger goal—community action or scientific knowledge—as a defining feature of citizen science.
Please note: the group "Princeton Citizen Scientists" is an advocacy organization at Princeton University comprised of civically-engaged and politically conscious graduate students and scientists. If you are interested in working on issues related to science outreach, communication, and advocacy on the local, state, and national level, please reach out to them.