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  • How does one design a project, recruit, train, and retain volunteers?
  • What types of data are appropriate candidates for collection by citizen scientists?
  • Are there best practices that can be inferred and shared from established projects?
  • What policy issues are encountered in citizen science projects, and how can these be addressed without undue burden on project participants and leaders?How sustainable are citizen science projects? Can data collected by one group be reused for other scientific purposes
  • What data collection and management standards should be followed to ensure data can be integrated and shared?

The Citizen Science Working Group of the Community for Data Integration is proposing a USGS-wide meeting of citizen science project leaders inside USGS and in other partner organizations to raise awareness of citizen science and its potential uses and benefits, share best practices for establishing citizen science projects, working with volunteers, collecting and validating data, education, and communication. 


Project Topic


Resources Required


Benefits to USGS Scientists

In-Kind Funding Provided

Total Funding Requested

USGS Citizen Science Workshop

  • Plan and Conduct Workshop
    • Plan workshop
    • Conduct workshop
  • Communicate Workshop Findings
    • Prepare workshop materials (deliverables) for publication
    • Publish informal workshop report (to CDI)
    • Publish formal workshop report (OFR)
    • Report out findings at large national science meeting
    • , e.g., the Participatory Science for Conservation Conference (PSCC)
  • Preserve and Share Information with CS CommunityKnowledge
    • Set up and populate USGS Citizen Science website (extranet)
  • In-kind Costs
    • Program Committee:
    • 10 FTE (
    • 1440 hours
    , in-kind
    • )
    • On-Site Logistical Support: 5 FTE (3 days
    , in-kind)
    • Participant Attendance (35 estimate)
    • Workshop Committee Attendance (4)
    • Poster Session
  • Direct Costs
    • Travel: 2 Plenary Speakers and 3 others in need
  • Participant Attendance (in-kind)
    • Workshop Committee Attendance (
    • 6)
  • Poster Session (in-kind)
    • Workshop Refreshments
    • Distributed Materials (name tags, folders, agendas, abstracts, list of participants)
    • OFR Preparation (0.1 FTE/ 12 months)
    • EPN Services
    • Website
    • Preparation (0.05 FTE/ 100 hours)
    • Travel to PSCC or other suitable large national science meeting
  1. Workshop
  2. Reports:
    1. Open-File Report
    / Scientific Investigations Report
    1. (formal)
    2. CDI Workshop Report (informal) - Snapshot of Citizen Science Project within USGS
  3. USGS Citizen Science Website
  4. Action Plan for future directions in citizen science research within the USGS/DOI
  5. Workshop Report (informal) - Snapshot of Citizen Science Project within USGS
  6. Knowledgebase: Collection and Sharing of Best Practices
  7. Proposed Guidance on Crowd-Sourced Citizen Science Relative to USGS Volunteer Handbook
  • Mission Area Benefits
    • Climate: National Phenology Network provides extensive baseline datasets for comparison when researching the effects of climate change
    • Hazards: Open Street Map assists rescuers during disasters; Did You Feel It? provides more data about earthquakes and their effect on citizens
    • Ecosystems: National Phenology Network and Breeding Bird Survey provide extensive datasets about species that would not be collected otherwise
  • Creating increased Increased exposure and recognition for USGS CS projects within the larger scientific community, not just in their local Science Centers.
  • Greatly expand data collection potential by harnessing citizen scientists.  Citizen scientists can provide a broad geographic 'sensor network' beyond our scientists' reach.
  • USGS researchers made aware of internal and external citizen science projects and their potential value to non-participating research programs
  • Potential to leverage existing work and achievements from other initiatives such as DataOne's Public Participation in Science and Research (2 CSWG members overlap) and Cornell's Citizen Science Central.
  • Potential to leverage efforts of and create synergy among the CS researchers and the USGS External Communications and Citizen Engagement team in the Office of Communications, and other DOI initiatives such as the Youth In the Great Outdoors and the White House's America's Great Outdoors programs.
  • Snapshot of status of citizen science research within the USGS/DOI Agencies and partners
  • Increased awareness of citizen science activities within USGS/DOI and partner agencies; workshop report can be distributed to other agencies to inform and educate on our efforts;
  • Make USGS science more approachable and understandable to students, teachers, and the general public;
  • Expand science knowledge and scientific literacy among citizen participants.

$84 $87,921 065

$33 $39,331

Advanced Tables - Table Plus


Ideas for Sessions, Presentations, and Breakouts (See CSWG Citizen Science Workshop Draft Agenda - Original in development)

Session/Breakout Topic/Idea

Suggested Venue

Presenter/Breakout Lead/Participant


Possible Outputs

Case studies of existing projects
Spotlight on established projects

Plenary presentations;

  • NPN
  • eBird
  • iNaturalist
  • USGS Did You Feel It?
  • NPS
  • Their project purpose, goals, reason for existence
  • Drivers behind starting the project
  • What are the data outputs?
  • Are there management decisions being made with the data?
  • Who are using the data?
  • How does it strengthen or integrate with USGS Science
  • Solicit expanded metadata/data survey ?
  • Typology of citizen science projects in USGS--active and passive (gathering data from social media)
  • Understanding citizen motivation
  • Detailed metadata records about the data collected (expand survey/inventory performed in Fall 2011)
  • How can CS data be assessed
  • How are CS data used, and by whom
  • Where the data are used, what standards it they utilizes, how it can be accessed, data sharing policy

Challenges, barriers, tough spots
(What are the barriers you encountered establishing your citizen science project)


  • National Map
  • OSM
  • Challenges encountered in establishing or running citizen science projects
  • How did you deal with USGS policies and issues such as PII, etc.
  • USGS Volunteer Handbook doesn't clearly address web-scale Citizen Science.
  • What other barriers had to be overcome?
  • Knowledge-base of challenges and solutions from various projects/perspectives
  • How to motivate volunteers in active versus passive projects
  • Use of gamification as approach to spur interest/participation by other user communities

How to establish a citizen science project


  • Citizen Science Central
  • How did you establish your project - what was the driver/need?
  • Policy issues
  • How to engage the public
  • Sustainability (keeping volunteers consistently engaged)
  • Rewards/inducements
  • Training citizen scientists
  • Roadmap of needs and decisions, how to start a citizen science project within the USGS
  • Collection ethics
  • Quality resources and help documents used as guides

Collecting, managing, and using citizen science data


  • eBird
  • DataONE
  • NPN
  • Collection protocols
  • QA/QC of data
  • Analyzing data
  • Outputs/effect/evaluation needs
  • Mandated limits on collection of PII, other information
  • Security best practices
  • Data acquisition and management best practices
  • Data quality, reliability, suitability guidance

Standards adoption in citizen science projects


  • DataONE
  • What standards are used?
  • What protocols are available?
  • Biological data standards used?
  • What has the adoption of standards allowed in your project?
  • Has it expanded data sharing capabilities? 
  • Other benefits the adoption of standards can bring?
  • Novel uses of the data by other scientists or in other programs/projects?
  • Knowledgebase from existing projects:
    • Standards used
    • Protocols used
    • Biological data standards used
    • Exchange schemas used
    • Examples of data exchange or integration

Technology in support of citizen science


  • Knowledge-base from existing projects
  • Developments or examples from existing projects
  • Pros/cons to consider with each
  • QA/QC benefits of mobile data collection (per Sally Holl TWSC - How mobile data collection factor into contributions to citizen science - largely the mechanism for contributing to CS projects)

Needs and future directions in USGS/Citizen Science partnerships



  • Discussions and kickoffs for new focus groups
    • Policy Barriers group
      • Address continuing or upcoming challenges
      • Include folks who have some kind of power to push issue resolution (or establish contacts with those who do have that power)
    • Discovery group
      • Continue the discovery and sharing of new/existing projects, establishing document store/knowledge-base of their activities
      • Scheduling meetings for future CSWG meetings, inviting or outreach to other USGS scientists
    • Training group
      • Have presenters demonstrate various how tos
  • Expansion of internal/external participation in CSWG and related activities
  • New issue-specific focus groups within CSWG
  • Brainstorm ideas for new focus groups needed
  • Solicit membership