Research and Evaluation Resources

Below you’ll find valuable resources for conducting research and evaluation in citizen science, hand picked by the Research and Evaluation Working Group (last updated 2018).


— Survey Instruments to Measure Learning Outcomes
— Informed Consent (Template)
Users Guide for Evaluating Learning Outcomes from Citizen Science
Interactive User’s Guide for Evaluating Learning Outcomes (Note: For full interactivity, please download the PDF and view on your desktop with Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader, or view with an Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader plugin on your browser.)


Foundations of the Field of Citizen Science

  • Bonney, Rick, Jennifer L. Shirk, Tina B. Phillips, Andrea Wiggins, Heidi L. Ballard, Abraham J. Miller-Rushing, and Julia K. Parrish. 2014. “Next steps for citizen science.” Science 343, no. 6178: 1436-1437.
  • Bonney, R., C. B. Cooper, J. Dickinson, S. Kelling, T. Phillips, K. V. Rosenberg, and J. Shirk. 2009. Citizen Science: A Developing Tool for Expanding Science Knowledge and Scientific Literacy. BioScience 59:977-984.
  • Dickinson, J. L., and R. Bonney, editors. 2012. Citizen Science: Public Participation in Environmental Research. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca, NY.
  • McCallie, E., L. Bell, T. Lohwater, J. H. Falk, J. L. Lehr, B. Lewenstein, C. Needham, and B. Wiehe. 2009. Many Experts, Many Audiences: Public Engagement with Science and Informal Science Education. Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE), Washington, D.C.
  • Shirk, J. L., Ballard, H. L., Wilderman, C. C., Phillips, T., Wiggins, A., Jordan, R., McCallie, E., Minarchek, M., Lewenstein, B. V. and Krasny, M. E. 2012. Public participation in scientific research: a framework for deliberate design. Ecology and Society,17:29.
  • Wiggins, A. and Crowston, K. 2012. Goals and tasks: Two typologies of citizen science projects. In:System Science (HICSS), 45th Hawaii International Conference, 2012: 3426-3435.

Learning Outcomes, Broadly

  • Bela, Györgyi, Taru Peltola, Juliette C. Young, Bálint Balázs, Isabelle Arpin, György Pataki, Jennifer Hauck et al. 2016. “Learning and the transformative potential of citizen science.” Conservation Biology 30, no. 5: 990-999.
  • Bonney, R., Phillips, T. B., Ballard, H. L., and Enck, J. E. 2016. Can citizen science enhance public understanding of science? Public Understanding of Science, 1-15. [DOI: 10.1177/0963662515607406.]
  • Edwards, R., Kirn, S., Hillman, T., Kloetzer, L., Mathieson, K., McDonnell, D., and Phillips, T. 2018. Learning and developing science capital through citizen science. In A. Bonn, M. Haklay, S. Hecker, A. Bowser, Z. Makuch & J. Vogel (Eds), Citizen Science – Innovation in Open Science, Society and Policy. UCL Press, London.
  • Evans, Celia, Eleanor Abrams, Robert Reitsma, Karin Roux, Laura Salmonsen, and Peter P. Marra. 2005. “The Neighborhood Nestwatch Program: Participant outcomes of a citizen‐science ecological research project.” Conservation Biology 19, no. 3: 589-594.
  • Jordan, R. C., Ballard, L. H., and Phillips, T. B. 2012. Key issues and new approaches for evaluating citizen science learning outcomes. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6): 307–309, doi:10.1890/110280.
  • Phillips, T. B., Porticella, N., and Bonney, R. E. 2018. A Framework for Articulating and Measuring Individual Learning Outcomes from Participation in Citizen Science. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice. 3(2), p.3. DOI:
  • Phillips, T., M. Ferguson, M. Minarchek, N. Porticella, and R. Bonney. 2014. User’s Guide for Evaluating Learning Outcomes in Citizen Science. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY.
  • Phillips, T., Bonney, R. and Shirk, J. 2012. What is our impact? . In:Dickinson, J. & Bonney, R. (eds.) Citizen science: Public participation in environmental research.Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press: 82-95
  • Schuttler, Stephanie G., Amanda E. Sorensen, Rebecca C. Jordan, Caren Cooper, and Assaf Shwartz. 2017. “Bridging the nature gap: can citizen science reverse the extinction of experience?” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
  • Trumbull, D. J., R. Bonney, D. Bascom, and A. Cabral. 2000. Thinking scientifically during participation in a citizen-science project. Science Education 84:265-275.


  • Curtis, V. 2015. Online citizen science projects: an exploration of motivation, contribution and participation (Doctoral dissertation, The Open University).
  • Frensley, T., Crall, A., Stern, M., Jordan, R., Gray, S., Prysby, M., … Huang, J. 2017. Bridging the Benefits of Online and Community Supported Citizen Science: A Case Study on Motivation and Retention with Conservation-Oriented Volunteers. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice , 2 ( 1 ) , 4 . DOI:
  • Hobbs, S. J., and P. C. L. White. 2012. Motivations and barriers in relation to community participation in biodiversity recording. Journal for Nature Conservation 20:364-373.
  • Jennett, Charlene, Laure Kloetzer, Daniel Schneider, Ioanna Iacovides, Anna Cox, Margaret Gold, Brian Fuchs et al. 2016. “Motivations, learning and creativity in online citizen science.” Journal of Science Communication 15, no. 3.
  • Nov, O., Arazy, O., & Anderson, D. 2014. Scientists@ Home: what drives the quantity and quality of online citizen science participation?. PloS one, 9(4), e90375.

Behavior change

  • Crall, A. W., R. Jordan, K. A. Holfelder, G. Newman, J. Graham, and D. M. Waller. 2012. The Impacts of an Invasive Species Citizen Science Training Program on Participant Attitudes, Behavior, and Science Literacy. Public Understanding of Science doi:10.1177/0963662511434894.
  • Heimlich, J. E., and N. M. Ardoin. 2008. Understanding behavior to understand behavior change: a literature review. Environmental Education Research 14:215-237.
  • Jordan, R. C., S. A. Gray, D. V. Howe, W. R. Brooks, and J. G. Ehrenfeld. 2011. Knowledge gain and behavior change in citizen-science programs. Conservation Biology 25:1148-1154.


  • Brossard, D., B. Lewenstein, and R. Bonney. 2005. Scientific knowledge and attitude change: The impact of a citizen science project. International Journal of Science Education 27:1099-1121.
  • Crall, A. W., R. Jordan, K. A. Holfelder, G. Newman, J. Graham, and D. M. Waller. 2012. The Impacts of an Invasive Species Citizen Science Training Program on Participant Attitudes, Behavior, and Science Literacy. Public Understanding of Science doi:10.1177/0963662511434894.
  • Price, C. A., and H. S. Lee. 2013. Changes in participants’ scientific attitudes and epistemological beliefs during an astronomical citizen science project. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 50:773-801.
  • Riesch, Hauke, and Clive Potter. “Citizen science as seen by scientists: Methodological, epistemological and ethical dimensions.” 2014. Public understanding of science 23, no. 1: 107-120.


  • Huang, J., Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Jordan, R., Gray, S., Frensley, T., Newman, G., & Stern, M. J. 2018. Scientific discourse of citizen scientists: Models as a boundary object for collaborative problem solving. Computers in Human Behavior.

Community-based Outcomes

  • Fernandez-Gimenez, Maria E., Heidi L. Ballard, and Victoria E. Sturtevant. 2008. “Adaptive management and social learning in collaborative and community-based monitoring: a study of five community-based forestry organizations in the western USA.” Ecology and Society 13, no. 2.
  • Jordan, Rebecca C., Heidi L. Ballard, and Tina B. Phillips. “Key issues and new approaches for evaluating citizen‐science learning outcomes.” 2012. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10, no. 6: 307-309.

Designing for citizen science: Best Practices

  • Edelson, D. C., Kirn, S. L., & Workshop Participants. 2018. Designing citizen science for both science and education: A workshop report. (Technical Report No. 2018-01). Colorado Springs, CO: BSCS Science Learning.
  • Sullivan, Brian L., Jocelyn L. Aycrigg, Jessie H. Barry, Rick E. Bonney, Nicholas Bruns, Caren B. Cooper, Theo Damoulas et al. 2014. “The eBird enterprise: an integrated approach to development and application of citizen science.” Biological Conservation 169: 31-40.
  • Wiggins, A., R. Bonney, G. LeBuhn, J.K. Parrish, and J.F. Weltzin. 2018. A Science Products Inventory for Citizen-Science Planning and Evaluation. Bioscience 68(6): 436-444.

Designing for Online communities

  • Aristeidou, M., Scanlon, E., & Sharples, M. 2017. Profiles of engagement in online communities of citizen science participation. Computers in Human Behavior, 74, 246-256.
  • Aristeidou, M., Scanlon, E., & Sharples, M. 2015. Weather-It: Evolution of an online community for citizen inquiry. In Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Knowledge Technologies and Data-driven Business (p. 13). ACM.
  • Aristeidou, M., Scanlon, E., & Sharples, M. 2015. Weather-it missions: a social network analysis perspective of an online citizen inquiry community. In Design for teaching and learning in a networked world (pp. 3-16). Springer, Cham.
  • Cox, J., Oh, E. Y., Simmons, B., Lintott, C., Masters, K., Greenhill, A., … & Holmes, K. 2015. Defining and measuring success in online citizen science: A case study of Zooniverse projects. Computing in Science & Engineering, 17(4), 28-41.
  • Frensley, T., Crall, A., Stern, M., Jordan, R., Gray, S., Prysby, M., … Huang, J. 2017. Bridging the Benefits of Online and Community Supported Citizen Science: A Case Study on Motivation and Retention with Conservation-Oriented Volunteers. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice , 2 ( 1 ) , 4 . DOI:
  • Kermish-Allen, R. 2016. Designing for online collaborations and local environmental action in citizen science: A multiple case study.
    Kermish-Allen, R., & Kastelein, K. (2017). Toward a Sociocultural Learning Theory Framework to Designing Online learning Communities in Citizen Science. The Journal of Community Informatics, 13(3).
  • Liberatore, A, et al. 2018. Social Media as a Platform for Citizen Science Community of Practice. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 3(1: 3, pp. 1-14, DOI:

Designing for Inclusivity, DEI

  • Pandya, Rajul E. “A framework for engaging diverse communities in citizen science in the US.” 2012. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10, no. 6: 314-317.

Designing for Data Quality

  • Burgess, H., DeBey, L., Froehlich, H., Schmidt, N., Theobald, E., Ettinger, A., HilleRisLambers, J., Tewksbury, J. and Parrish, J. 2017. The science of citizen science: Exploring barriers to use as a primary research tool. Biological conservation,208:113-120.
  • Crall, A. W., Newman, G. J., Stohlgren, T. J., Holfelder, K. A., Graham, J. and Waller, D. M. 2011. Assessing citizen science data quality: an invasive species case study. Conservation Letters,4:433-442.
  • Crall, A. W., Newman, G. J., Jarnevich, C. S., Stohlgren, T. J., Waller, D. M. and Graham, J. 2010. Improving and integrating data on invasive species collected by citizen scientists. Biological Invasions,12:3419-3428.
  • Cox, T. E., J. Philippoff, E. Baumgartner, and C. M. Smith. 2012. “Expert variability provides perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of citizen‐driven intertidal monitoring program.” Ecological Applications 22, no. 4: 1201-1212.
  • Wiggins, Andrea, Greg Newman, Robert D. Stevenson, and Kevin Crowston. 2011. “Mechanisms for data quality and validation in citizen science.” In e-Science Workshops (eScienceW), IEEE Seventh International Conference on, pp. 14-19. IEEE, 2011.

Designing for Youth

  • Ballard, H. L., Dixon, C. G. and Harris, E. M. 2017. Youth-focused citizen science: Examining the role of environmental science learning and agency for conservation. Biological Conservation, 208:65-75.
  • Gray, S. A., Nicosia, K. and Jordan, R. C. 2012. Lessons learned from citizen science in the classroom. a response to” the future of citizen science.”. Democracy and Education,20:14.
  • Kountoupes, Dina L., and Karen S. Oberhauser. 2008. “Citizen science and youth audiences: educational outcomes of the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project.” Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship 1, no. 1: 10.

Broader perspectives from related fields

  • Bell, P., B. Lewenstein, A. W. Shouse, and M. A. Feder, editors. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
  • Carlone, H. B., and A. Johnson. 2007. Understanding the science experiences of successful women of color: Science identity as an analytic lens. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 44:1187-1218.
  • Falk, J. H. 2002. The contribution of free-choice learning to public understanding of science. Interciencia 27:62-65.
  • Friedman, A. J., editor. 2008. Framework for Evaluating Impacts of Informal Science Education Projects. National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C.
  • National Research Council. 2012. A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas: National Academies Press.
  • National Science Board. 2016. Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding. Pages 7:1-101 Science and Engineering Indicators 2016. National Science Board, Arlington, VA.