Citizen science projects: get involved

Rebecca Elliott / 21 June 2016

From counting butterflies and reporting invasive species to measuring light pollution and helping to tackle disease, there are lots of ways for citizen scientists to volunteer their time.

Test the value of brain training

The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience is calling on volunteers aged 50 and over to help test the value of online ‘brain training’. Participants must live in the UK and not have a dementia diagnosis. Visit the Protect Study website for more details.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials company Quintiles is calling for seniors age 55+ to take part in future studies. Volunteers typically earn between £1,000 to £3,000 and all trials are approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Authority (MHRA). See Quintiles for more.

Interactive learning

NovaLabs offers a variety of online citizen-science projects for anyone to take part in, including quizzes about evolution through to sharing new research ideas with other participants. See the NovaLabs website for more.

Count wildlife

Every winter the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch gets thousands of people counting across the country, and there are other options too. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) runs Garden BirdWatch, a citizen science project that allows people to keep track of the birds they see in their garden throughout the year. The People's Trust for Endangered Species has Living With Mammals, an annual mammal count. The Butterfly Conservation Trust runs an annual butterfly count and a moth count every summer. Find out more about the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, BTO Garden BirdWatchPTES mammal surveysThe Big Butterfly Count and Mothnight.

Moss mapping

Give a walking trip to the South Pennines or Peak District a scientific purpose by helping Moors for the Future build their Big Moss Map. Find out more about the Big Moss Map.

Monitor flooding

Loughborough Univeristy are looking for information about flooding across the country. Share your experiences with them to aid their research. Find out more on Floodcrowd.

Whale watching on a Mediterranean cruise

Passengers whale watching on a Mediterranean cruise.

Whale watch on holiday

Since 2006 Saga cruises have often included members of ORCA, a research group monitoring whales and dolphins at sea. So far an incredible 20,196 whales, dolphins and porpoises have been spotted on Saga cruises, with a record 5,866 marine mammals spotted in 2015 alone, providing very useful data for ORCA's research. There are ORCA members confirmed for 11 cruises in 2016 and 11 in 2017. All passengers are provided with complimentary binoculars in their cabins so they can take part. Find out more about Saga cruising.

Help measure light pollution

12 times a year Globe at Night invite citizen scientists to observe a particular constellation to see how many of the stars they can see. Share your findings and look back through their records to see how light pollution has been changing. Find out more on Globe at Night.

Catalogue plant collections

The UK has the largest and oldest collection of herbarium specimens in the world in its universities and museums. These plants provide an important record of plant biodiversity but most of them are undocumented, so the Botanical Society of the British Isles has organised a volunteer programme for people interested in helping document these collections. find out more on the Herbaria@home website

Use your phone to beat Parkinson's

100 for Parkinson's is a global study that uses an app to track the lives of people with and without Parkinson's. Volunteers without Parkinson's are needed to provide a dataset to compare the results of those with the disease. Find out more on the 100 for Parkinson's website

Report invasive species

Invasive species, both plants and animals, can be damaging for the fragile biodiversity of the country, so keep your eyes peeled for certain key species. People in coastal areas can watch out for the sweetly named but invasive mitten crab. Find out more about reporting mitten crabs. See the Non-Native Species Secretariat for their list of current threats, which currently includes the Asian hornet, carpet sea squirt, quagga mussel, killer shrimps and water primrose. Mobile phone apps are available to make identification and reporting easier, including That's Invasive, Aqua Invaders, Plant Tracker and Sealife Tracker. All are available on Apple and Android.

Record the changing climate

The Woodland Trust have set up Nature's Calendar for citizen scientists to report the climate in their area. Record your sightings to help build up a picture of what is happening across the country. See the Nature's Calendar site for more.

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