Citizen science and crowdsourcing

NOAA has a rich tradition of supporting citizen science.

Citizen science is defined as a form of open collaboration where members of the public participate in the scientific process to address real-world problems in ways that include identifying research questions, collecting and analyzing data, interpreting results, making new discoveries, developing technologies and applications, and solving complex problems. NOAA has a rich tradition of supporting citizen science. This tradition is being carried on through a portfolio of projects fostered and supported across the Agency.

Students working on sea urchin studies with University of Hawaii Sea Grant.
Students working on sea urchin studies with University of Hawaii Sea Grant. (Pelika Andrade/University of Hawaii Sea Grant)

NOAA's Office of Education supports citizen science by managing a community of practice, coordinating a catalog of projects, and representing the agency in broader efforts.

NOAA Community of Practice

NOAA launched a NOAA Citizen Science Community of Practice in November 2013. The community is facilitated by and relies on grassroots participation from community members throughout the agency. It primarily works to:

  • compile best practices,
  • share resources, and
  • maintain a searchable database of NOAA's citizen science projects.

Since its formation, this community has grown steadily, with over 160 members engaged. It is estimated that the projects represented by this community result in more than half a million volunteer hours per year (equal to more than 239 person-years of effort). A volunteer Steering Committee, made up of members from across NOAA, provides guidance on how the Community of Practice can best be supported as it continues to evolve.

If you would like more information on the Community of Practice, please email Laura Oremland.

Project catalog

NOAA's Office of Education supports a catalog of citizen science projects. This catalog is searchable to help you find information about local and national projects you may be interested in. It is part of the Database of Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Projectsoffsite link (select NOAA under "Agency Sponsor").

Broader efforts

NOAA is an active member of the Federal Community of Practice for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science. This community worked with this group the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to create a Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit. This Toolkit helps federal practitioners find resources to pitch, develop, implement, and improve citizen science and crowdsourcing projects. NOAA also assisted in the creation of a government-wide website designed to accelerate the use of crowdsourcing and citizen science. Additionally, NOAA is active within the Citizen Science Associationoffsite link which provides a coordination mechanism for the field.


❮ Office of Education