Empowering Citizen Scientists: A Review of the Top 5 Apps and Websites


Are you fascinated by the wonders of the natural world? Do you have a passion for scientific discovery but aren’t sure how to get involved? Welcome to the world of citizen science, where you can transform your curiosity into meaningful contributions to research projects spanning a wide range of disciplines. Citizen science empowers individuals like you to participate in scientific endeavors, regardless of your background or expertise. By harnessing the collective power of volunteers worldwide, citizen science projects are driving groundbreaking discoveries and addressing pressing environmental and societal challenges.

In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide to becoming a citizen scientist, including tips for getting started, top apps and websites to explore, challenges you may encounter, and ethical considerations to keep in mind. Whether you’re interested in tracking wildlife, monitoring environmental changes, or delving into the mysteries of the cosmos, there’s a citizen science project waiting for you. Let’s embark on this exciting journey together and unlock the scientist within!

Quick Tips for Success:

Before diving into the world of citizen science, here are some quick tips to help you get started on the right foot:

  • Choose projects that align with your interests and expertise to stay motivated and engaged.
  • Familiarize yourself with the specific protocols and guidelines for each project to ensure your contributions are valuable.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek guidance from project coordinators or fellow participants.
  • Utilize technology such as smartphone apps and online platforms to streamline data collection and analysis.
  • Remember that every observation counts, no matter how small, and your contributions can make a real difference in advancing scientific knowledge.

Now, let’s delve deeper into the world of citizen science and explore five apps and websites that offer exciting opportunities for aspiring citizen scientists.

Top 5 Apps and Websites for Citizen Science


Description: iNaturalist is a popular app and website that allows users to record and share observations of plants, animals, and other organisms.

Features: Users can upload photos and descriptions of their observations, which are then crowdsourced for identification by the iNaturalist community or automated algorithms.

How it Helps: By contributing to iNaturalist, you can help scientists track biodiversity, monitor species distributions, and discover new insights into the natural world.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  • Download the iNaturalist app from the App Store or Google Play Store.
  • Create an account and set up your profile.
  • Start making observations by taking photos of plants, animals, fungi, or any other organisms you encounter.
  • Upload your observations to the iNaturalist platform and add relevant details such as location, date, and additional notes.
  • Explore the iNaturalist community to learn from experts, participate in identification challenges, and contribute to ongoing research projects.


Overview: Zooniverse is the world’s largest platform for online citizen science projects, spanning diverse fields such as astronomy, biology, ecology, and humanities.

Projects: With hundreds of projects to choose from, ranging from classifying galaxies to transcribing historical documents, there’s something for everyone on Zooniverse.

Participation: Users can contribute to projects by classifying images, annotating data, or even helping to design new experiments.

How to Join:

  • Visit the Zooniverse website and browse the available projects.
  • Choose a project that interests you and read the instructions provided by the project team.
  • Follow the on-screen prompts to start contributing, whether it’s by identifying animals in camera trap images, analyzing weather patterns, or transcribing manuscripts.


Introduction: eBird is a citizen science project developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, aimed at documenting bird sightings around the world.

Purpose: Birdwatchers and bird enthusiasts can contribute to eBird by recording their observations, which are used for scientific research, conservation efforts, and bird population monitoring.

How to Contribute:

  • Download the eBird mobile app or visit the eBird website to create an account.
  • Record your bird sightings by specifying species, location, and abundance using the app’s checklist feature.
  • Submit your checklists to eBird, where your data will be integrated into global databases and made available to researchers and conservationists.

Benefits: By participating in eBird, you can help track bird migrations, identify important bird habitats, and contribute to our understanding of avian ecology and conservation.


Description: SciStarter is an online platform that connects citizen scientists with research projects, events, and educational resources across various disciplines.

Features: Users can discover and join thousands of citizen science projects ranging from astronomy and ecology to health and technology.

Engagement: SciStarter offers tools for finding projects based on location, topic, or level of involvement, making it easy for users to find projects that match their interests and abilities.

How it Works:

  • Create a SciStarter account and complete your profile to receive personalized project recommendations.
  • Explore the project directory to browse featured projects or search for specific topics.
  • Join projects that interest you and follow the instructions provided by project organizers to start contributing.

Community: SciStarter fosters a supportive community of citizen scientists, providing opportunities to connect with fellow participants, share experiences, and collaborate on projects.


Description: Foldit is a unique citizen science project that gamifies protein folding, a complex biological process with implications for drug discovery and bioengineering.

Gameplay: Players are tasked with solving puzzles to predict the three-dimensional structures of proteins, contributing to scientific research on protein folding and design.

Contribution: By playing Foldit, users can help scientists unravel the mysteries of protein folding, potentially leading to new insights into diseases, enzyme function, and molecular biology.

How to Get Started:

  • Download the Foldit game client or play directly through your web browser.
  • Complete the introductory tutorials to learn the basics of protein folding and the Foldit interface.
  • Start solving puzzles and competing with other players to achieve high scores and contribute to scientific progress.

Things to Purchase for Citizen Science:

Item Description Price Range (USD)
Field Guides or Reference Books Books to help identify plants, animals, etc. $10 – $50
Binoculars or Cameras Optical equipment for wildlife observation $50 – $500
Smartphone Apps or Software Tools Apps for data collection, species identification Free – $10/month
Field Equipment and Gear GPS devices, soil testing kits, etc. $20 – $500
Educational Resources or Online Courses Courses and materials to enhance knowledge $20 – $200/course

(Note: Prices are approximate and may vary depending on brand, quality, and other factors.)


Becoming a citizen scientist opens up a world of opportunities to explore, discover, and contribute to scientific knowledge. By leveraging technology, community support, and your curiosity and passion, you can make a meaningful impact on research projects spanning diverse fields. Whether you’re documenting biodiversity, classifying galaxies, or unraveling the mysteries of protein folding, your contributions as a citizen scientist are invaluable. So why wait? Join the global community of citizen scientists today and embark on a journey of discovery that knows no bounds.

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