Why Use Citizen Science?

We briefly touched on the use of citizen science in our two M&E approaches at the beginning of this lesson.

In conventional M&E, the participants conducting citizen science are only part of the data collection process. Their engagement is limited to this key phase. For example, a person downloads a citizen science application on their phone, which asks them to record the number and species of birds they see in a pre-defined area.

In PM&E, the participants conducting citizen science are involved in many aspects of the process. Their engagement can include sharing ideas, communicating among each other and the project lead, collecting data, and discussing the results. For example, a person is approached at the beginning of a sustainability project, and is consulted on each of the key steps throughout the project lifecycle.

Take a moment to reflect on how citizen science can be considered in a conventional M&E approach, compared to a PM&E approach. What do you think is the biggest difference?

Regardless of the way it is used, there are many benefits or reasons why you might choose to incorporate this method into your M&E plan.  As you can see from the list of examples here, citizen science provides benefits to the individuals involved, the environment, the community as a whole, research, and more!

Why use citizen science?

  • Spread awareness to an environmental or scientific issue
  • Achieve temporal and geographical coverage
  • Achieve inclusiveness
  • Increase scientific literacy of a community
  • Increase access to resources
  • Create enjoyable and engaging experiences
  • Produce scientific outputs
  • Incorporate both local knowledge and scientific knowledge
  • Address specific societal challenges experienced by the community





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Building Sustainable Communities: Monitoring and Evaluation Copyright © by Ryan Plummer; Amanda Smits; Samantha Witkowski; Bridget McGlynn; Derek Armitage; Ella-Kari Muhl; and Jodi Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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