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Starting Out

Making it Count

Check if your project already exists

To avoid duplicating effort and to ensure that your project will be adding value to the body of work that is currently being undertaken, you should search for existing projects that are similar to yours. If you find that your project idea is already running, consider approaching the project organiser to see whether you can partner and improve the ultimate impact of both projects by collecting other types of data or leveraging each other’s connections.

Search the Citizen Science Hub for projects in New South Wales, including those listed on the Atlas of Living Australia on the hub’s project search page. To find Department of Planning, Industry and Environment volunteering projects, go to the Volunteer Information Portal or search though Google. 

Define your scientific question

Citizen science works best when you clearly define and communicate your project aims from the start. You must first define the scientific question that your project aims to answer.

When defining your scientific question(s), it is important to keep in mind whether participants will be able to contribute to the answers. Citizen science can answer scientific questions while improving participants' scientific literacy and investigative skills. However, not all scientific questions can be answered by citizen science. Depending on the question and the project needs, citizen science can support certain components of a project while the experts complete the rest. 

Spend time on setting up your project

Ensure that you commit some time to proper project and communications planning as this is key for any successful project, including citizen science projects.

It is important to clearly identify goals which need to be specific, measurable, achievable and time-bound (SMART) to maximise the effectiveness of your project. Refer to the Define goals and key milestones section for more information. You should also consider the type and volume of data you will need to answer your question, and how to make this openly available to provide feedback to participants and maximise the impact of your project. Learn more about this in the Collect, manage and share your data section.