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Calling All Citizen Scientists

We're getting ready to launch a project on The Tyee and need your help.

By Ryan Mallough, Mark Neil and Corinne Ton That 16 Mar 2013 | TheTyee.ca

Ryan Mallough, Mark Neil and Corinne Ton That are journalism students at the University of Western Ontario.

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Modern tools have helped the sprouting of citizen science.

For weeks now, we, along with the rest of the online-journalism class at Western University's Masters of Arts in Journalism program, have been exploring the emerging world of citizen science. And we're still at it. The result will be a seven-part series published on The Tyee beginning in April.

Citizen science?

It's a growing movement that brings together professional scientists and regular people from around the globe. Together, they use their eyes, ears, smartphones and the Internet to expand scientific knowledge and give us all a better understanding of the world we live in.

Birdwatchers, hockey players, gamers, astronomy lovers, and health enthusiasts all have the ability and knowledge to contribute to the scientific community.

Sometimes it's just a matter of keeping a close eye on a bird's nest, or the time of year a tree blossoms or counting frog calls in a marshland. Other citizen scientists spot spiral galaxies in deep-space photos or use software to fold complex 3D proteins. And others are activists using their data to make change in the world around them.

Citizen science has exploded in the last few years thanks to smartphones that, with the right apps, become powerful scientific instruments. And, thanks to the Internet, citizen scientists and their data have connected to the scientists who collect, analyze and share the results -- in scholarly journals and online.

Get in touch with us

Our class is investigating the basics of the citizen-science movement, the important questions and concerns in the field as well as discovering what lies ahead. Through text, videos, maps, audio and infographics we'll be providing in-depth coverage as well as analysis of the movement. But we need your help.

Maybe you're a scientist leading a citizen-science project. Or perhaps you're a citizen scientist yourself. We'd love to hear from you. Or maybe you'd just like to help spread the word about our project. Great. We'd love to have you join the adventure.

You can track our progress on our Tumblr, spread the word and help link us with others involved in the movement. And you can email us. We'd love to hear from you.

Look for the final feature series on The Tyee in April. We promise you a fascinating look into a world where everyone's a scientist -- or at least, everyone's committing acts of science.

Follow the Western University Citizen Science Project for updates:

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