A brand-new group called the Citizen Science Association (CSA) is taking shape in response to the growing number of citizen science endeavors around the world. Citizen-science data are gathered by massive numbers of volunteers on many topics, including fish, birds, weather, stars, health, and others—and they’re important for studies in many scientific disciplines.
The CSA is a global community of practice focused on public participation in science. It is offering free inaugural membership for 2014. The CSA recognizes all forms of citizen science and focuses on building the community of practice involving those who organize volunteers. Whether organizers are scientists, educators, data managers, technology specialists, evaluators, or volunteers, the CSA welcomes those who want to benefit from a network based on the diverse practices of citizen science. The announcement was made February 16, 2014, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) convention in Chicago.
“The information gathered by everyday people has brought scientific findings to light,” says Dr. Caren Cooper, a researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and presenter at the AAAS meeting. “Without data from the public, scientists might not have learned that birds are breeding earlier in response to climate change, that leaf decomposition is greater at forest edges, or that the human navel contains an enormous diversity of microbial life.”
“The Citizen Science Association fills an important role in shaping a community of practice that can support local, regional, and global citizen science by providing a platform for leadership, networking, and resources,” says Dr. Abe Miller-Rushing, a scientist with the National Park Service and chair of the CSA steering committee.
Support to begin the Citizen Science Association with free inaugural membership has been provided by several leading organizations, including National Geographic, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE), the Woodrow Wilson Center, the Schoodic Institute, and the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON).
Citizen Science Association is inspired by a vision of a world where people understand, value, and participate in science. To increase the growth and quality of citizen science projects around the globe, the CSA mission is to foster communication, collaboration, and professional development in citizen science.
“The inaugural members will be essential for building the capacity of the CSA and will play key roles in both shaping the association and supporting its goal to advance the field of citizen science,” says steering committee member Dr. John Tweddle from the Natural History Museum in London. Inaugural members will have the opportunity to serve on CSA committees and working groups to shape and build the organization, as well as vote for the CSA Board of Directors and other officers.
To take the next steps in forming the CSA structure, the group’s website is hosting an anonymous survey, gathering information about the diverse needs, interests, and expertise within the community. Those who take the survey can opt to join the CSA and take advantage of the free inaugural membership.