Start your project - Citizen Science

Ten principles of Citizen Science

The statements below were developed by the ‘Sharing best practice and building capacity’ working group of the European Citizen Science Association, led by the Natural History Museum London with input from many members of the Association, to set out some of the key principles.
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1.    Citizen science projects actively involve citizens in scientific endeavour that generates new knowledge or understanding. Citizens may act as contributors, collaborators, or as project leader and have a meaningful role in the project.

2.    Citizen science projects have a genuine science outcome. For example, answering a research question or informing conservation action, management decisions or environmental policy. 
3.    Both the professional scientists and the citizen scientists benefit from taking part. Benefits may include the publication of research outputs, learning opportunities, personal enjoyment, social benefits, satisfaction through contributing to scientific evidence e.g. to address local, national and international issues, and through that, the potential to influence policy.
4.    Citizen scientists may, if they wish, participate in multiple stages of the scientific process. This may include developing the research question, designing the method, gathering and analysing data, and communicating the results.
5.    Citizen scientists receive feedback from the project. For example, how their data are being used and what the research, policy or societal outcomes are.
6.    Citizen science is considered a research approach like any other, with limitations and biases that should be considered and controlled for. However unlike traditional research approaches, citizen science provides opportunity for greater public engagement and democratisation of science. 
7.    Citizen science project data and meta-data are made publicly available and where possible, results are published in an open access format. Data sharing may occur during or after the project, unless there are security or privacy concerns that prevent this. 
8.    Citizen scientists are acknowledged in project results and publications.
9.    Citizen science programmes are evaluated for their scientific output, data quality, participant experience and wider societal or policy impact. 
10.    The leaders of citizen science projects take into consideration legal and ethical issues surrounding copyright, intellectual property, data sharing agreements, confidentiality, attribution, and the environmental impact of any activities.  


Set up your project

The PlutoF database and workbench allows you to set up your citizen science project for biodiversity monitoring, collect, manage and publish data, communicate with your contributors and use the functionality of other PlutoF modules for enhanced results.
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There are many online tools to help you organize data collecting and communication with your citizen scientist collaborators.
EU BON partner University of Tartu Natural History Museum has developed a special module within PlutoF biodiversity database and workbench for working with citizen science projects.

This citizen science module features:

  • Creating and editing data forms (adding extra data fields)
  • Creating public project webpage
  • Admin mode for approving observations (with feedback option)
  • Linking a mobile application (My naturesound) to the project for collecting audio data
  • Exporting datasets to GBIF

PlutoF workbench allows to further enhance your working with data:

  • import taxa from GBIF taxonomic backbone
  • use clipboard functionality to compile data
  • export project data as csv tables
  • manage your multimedia files (metadata, licenses, tagging etc)
  • share with other users, working groups
  • perform sofisticated search from your own or other projects data


Start with general description of your project, designing data form, applying access rights and others important considerations before starting communication with your contributors.
Creating project  

Informing general public of your project and collected data is as important for citizen science as collecting the data itself. PlutoF allows to show basic information about your aims as well as results.
Public webpage of project

Once you are ready for receiving the data, you need to be sure that your citizen scientists know how to handle the observation data. Here is the tutorial how they can contribute to the project via PlutoF workbench.
Adding observations to the project  

For QUICK START we provide links to PlutoF (please start with creating a user account if you dont have one):

Start your project 
Report observations (opportunistic) 
Work with your files
Export compiled data