New Australian citizen science one-stop-shop launched

Australian science enthusiasts have a new search tool to find citizen science projects from today.

The collaboration between the University of Adelaide and Atlas of Living Australia is based on a US web platform SciStarter which enables people to search for science participation opportunities in their area.

The Beta version is now online and currently includes 129 projects across a range of scientific disciplines. Future projects will be added via the global SciStarter platform and filtered through to the Australian version.

The site allows people to search by Australian states and territories, participation modes, age groups and projects aligned to sustainable development goals.

While SciStarter won’t replace existing search tools, such as the BioCollect platform already in use by the Atlas of Living Australia, the developers say their platform offers a one-stop shop for people looking to involve themselves in community science projects.

“One of our key aims in starting this project is to diversify citizen science,” says Frank Grützner, a professor at the University of Adelaide’s School of Biological Sciences who co-led the project.

“There are basically projects for everybody, but not everybody is participating and SciStarter Australia is a really important step to get more diversity in participation in citizen science and that applies to whether it’s an environmental project or not.”

Grützner is keen to emphasise that diversity as part of the platform extends both to the background of prospective participants as well as the variety of projects on offer. Environmental citizen science projects are relatively common and easy – often, all a person needs to do is go outside and take a photo or record a noise and they’ve contributed to data collection.

Such projects – like the Australian Museum’s FrogID initiative, have led to new species discoveries or more comprehensive understandings of species distribution.

Less easy are other projects without the convenience of stepping into nature. Grützner hopes to change that through SciStarter.

“There’s also a very important social science component in really understanding the motivations of participation in projects and that’s something that the platform offers,” Grützner says.

“There’s different levels in which participants can engage and provide information about those sorts of things and that will actually allow us to get a deeper understanding [of] how people participate in projects and what that impact of that participation is.”

Buy cosmos print magazine

Please login to favourite this article.