Wouldn't it be nice to have thousands of collaborators, collecting data and sharing observations, who didn't demand a salary at all? A nation-wide initiative called Project Budburst is enlisting the help of so-called "citizen scientists" to nip the effects of linkurl:climate change;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/daily/54049/ in the bud. But is using the public as a data source scientifically sound? The idea of linkurl:citizen science;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/17048/ is nothing new. Hobbyists interested in particular plants or animals have been collecting valuable data for centuries, often even corresponding with professional scientists, publishing papers, and presenting work at scientific meetings. Historically, however, amateur naturalists tended to come to the professionals when they found something interesting. Now, in large part thanks to the internet, it's the other way around. Project Budburst is a field campaign to track the effects of linkurl:global warming;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/18617/ in the US by monitoring the seasonal activities of a variety of plant species. Volunteers from across...
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