Volunteering and Citizen Science

We are hearing more and more about citizen science- but what is it?

Citizen science is when members of the public get involved in science projects or research activities in an active way. Although citizen science is becoming increasingly popular, it is not a new concept. For example, in 1715, over three hundred years ago, Edmund Halley’s research involved observations from citizens scientists to predict the timing of solar eclipses more accurately. Another famous citizen scientist was Charles Darwin, who along with making his own observations, gathered observations from over 1000 members of the public in developing his theory on natural selection.

Today, citizen science is often linked with public engagement outreach activities in collaboration with academic institutions and both governmental and non-governmental organisations. In this way, citizen science can help bridge the gap between society and academic research and can promote a shared understanding of a particular environmental or social issue, for example climate change, biodiversity loss, marine litter and social issues such housing and urban greening.


A citizen science approach can provide a range of benefits for citizens, researchers and decision makers:

1. Real world problems: Providing members of the public with the opportunity to get involved with research can help raise awareness and address actual topics at local, national and even international levels.

2. Contribute to ‘live’ science: Participants can contribute to current research and issues they are interested in or care about. There is often the potential to get involved in different ways, depending on the research project itself and might involve: collecting and analysing new data, mapping locations and data, conducting scientific experiments and making and documenting new discoveries.

3. Local Knowledge: Citizen science can help shine a light on unknown issues and help professionals gain an insight into local experiences and concerns.

4. Education: Citizen science can encourage learning by introducing new ways of learning about science and information for those who get involved.

5. Collaboration & Inclusion: By enabling and supporting members of the public to get involved, citizen science may help communities work together on a shared project. It may also provide a way for communities and other agencies work together to develop new goals or solutions on a specific issue.

6. Policy: Citizen science may provide a way of providing information to highlight a concern and influence new policy.

The Ecostructure Observatory is a citizen science mapping platform designed to engage people with the Ecostructure project. The Ecostructure project is researching ways to support coastal areas in adapting to the challenges of climate change such as damage to infrastructure, habitat loss and decline of marine species.

To engage members of the public with our research, we have a number of citizen science activities on the Ecostructure Observatory including Seashore Snail Survey and Stories about our Coastal Structures and we are currently developing an activity on Shoreline Marine Life.


How to get involved!:

Taking part in the activity is straight forward- just click on the link, register by providing your email and a user name of your choice, map your location, share and upload a photo or drawing.

We ask participants to register in order to comply with GDPR and ethical guidelines as outlined by University College Dublin.

If you would like to get in touch to find out more about Ecostructures please email: sonya.agnew@ucd.ie
Ecostructure is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) though the Ireland-Wales Cooperation programme 2014-2020.

And to start mapping click the link below.

Ecostructure Observatory

You might also like this article on the Biodiversity Data Centre Citizen Science Portal which is used for uploading sightings of species found in your local area.

Biodiversity Data Centre Citizen Science Portal