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Climate change science aided by huge but 'invisible' efforts of amateurs
Date:9/3/2014

t at such a scale than with volunteers.

So how well does that dependence on volunteers come through in scientific papers? As a springboard for their study, Cooper and her colleagues analyzed the bibliography of a recent review on the effects of climate change on migratory birds. For each of the 173 primary studies cited in the review, Cooper and her colleagues tracked down the sources of data used.

Neither the review itself nor any of the cited papers used the term "citizen science"a term coined in 1995and only 37 papers used the word "volunteer." Yet between 24 percent and 77 percent of the papers supporting each claim drew primarily on volunteer data. Citizen science proved especially important for documenting the patterns and consequences of climate change, such as population declines and changes in migration timing.

Cooper says that it's not as if scientists are downplaying the role of citizen sciencein some cases, scientists use large data repositories and may be unaware that citizen science was involved. In the majority of cases, scientists simply don't use a standardized term to refer to citizen science. The result is that the product of all that volunteer effort is invisible in the literature, despite having played an integral part in analyses.

"I'd like to see this information coming full circle. In the world today we tend to have notions about expertise, and that only professionals have it," Cooper said, noting that this idea can keep people from feeling they have anything to contribute to the scientific process. "But people who have been doing a hobby for years have tons of expertise, and they can make a very real contribution."

"It would be so cool for people to start to identify with the term citizen science, instead of thinking 'I'm a bird watcher,' or 'I measure water quality,'" Cooper said. "People might realize they have a lot of kindred spirits out there."


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Contact: Pat Leonard
pel27@cornell.edu
607-254-2137
Cornell University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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