Volunteer Scientists

P1000068(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

As we’ve seen in all of the volunteer stories  discussed here, volunteers provide  an immense amount of data to environmental organizations, professionals and scientists. According to this recent study, volunteers are due a little more credit than they currently get. The study describes volunteer efforts as often “invisible,” as the work of citizen scientists typically goes unmentioned in scientific papers and journals. The study’s lead author, Caren Cooper of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, makes a great point that people often don’t volunteer because they don’t think they have the expertise or qualifications to do so. If citizen scientists were mentioned, credited, or even applauded in scientific papers and journals, people may be more likely to see that they can, in fact, contribute in important ways. Even something that people think of as only a hobby, Cooper notes , can contribute greatly to scientific work, through citizen science and volunteering.

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