SciStarter provides free tools to benefit citizen science project coordinators, participants, organizations, and researchers. Three of these tools are 1) the Participation API, 2) the SciStarter Login System, and 3) the Project Finder Widget.
Projects that use the Participant API or the Volunteer Sign Up tools (or both!) are called SciStarter Affiliates, and they are eligible for our programs with the Girl Scouts, Discover Magazine, North Carolina State University, Broward County Schools, PBS, as well as libraries, educational institutions, and other organizations. SciStarter Affiliates reap additional benefits, including: on-demand analytics to learn what other citizen science projects their participants are doing; access to the SciStarter community and easy-to-use tools to target recruiting efforts based on location, interests, or experiences; a safe, third-party alternative for volunteers to sign up for projects and for project leaders to communicate with volunteers.
SciStarter Affiliates are also searchable through a special category on the SciStarter Project Finder.
Want to learn more about how to deploy these tools? Find details and documentation on SciStarter.org/API. Below, we feature case studies from practitioners who use these tools.
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BEST FOR: Project owner’s that want to be part of our affiliate program, which allows your project to be eligible for inclusion in special, curated programming with the Girl Scouts, Discover, PBS, Nature, schools, universities, libraries, and more. Project owners who want to learn what other projects their participants are doing. Project owners who wish to access the SciStarter community and target recruiting efforts based on location, interests, or experiences.
Case Study #1: Cait Bailey | Co-creator and Systems Developer, Anecdata
We started using the participation API in January 2019. Not only is this useful for our participants who use SciStarter and want to see their participation stats, it’s also useful for project managers who run projects through Anecdata and want to assess their volunteers’ contributions and understand what other projects their volunteers are engaged in. Over 30 project managers from Anecdata have opted to use SciStarter, and going forward, every project created on Anecdata will automatically be a SciStarter affiliate and have access to the affiliate tools.
Here’s a screenshot from Anecdata.org :
And here’s how the Participation API works between SciStarter and Anecdata:
1)A user finds one of our projects on SciStarter and clicks “visit” to be directed to our site. She shares an observation/makes a contribution to the project on our platform. On the data entry screen, she sees a message saying the project is on SciStarter and that she can log in there to view all her participation stats.
2) A background task runs periodically looking for observations or project joins in SciStarter-enabled projects.
3) The background task looks up the user in question against the SciStarter API to see if they’ve got a SciStarter profile, and saves that ID to their user profile.
4) The task takes the user ID and reports the observation back to SciStarter.
5) We save a ‘scistarter_updated’ variable on the observation so that we know we don’t have to sync it again!
We also use the Project API to share all our projects with the SciStarter project database. Here’s how the Project API works: A user creates a project on Anecdata.org. A background task looks every half hour for projects that have both SciStarter enabled and have been modified recently. The background task shares the project with SciStarter, and if the SciStarter API confirms the request we save the SciStarter ID on the project.
Find projects from Anecdata on SciStarter.
Case Study #2: Pietro Michelucci, PhD | Director, Human Computation Institute; Project Lead, EyesOnALZ / Stall Catchers
The participation API allows our “Catchers” to track their contributions to our project on their SciStarter dashboard. We found this especially useful during the Stall Catchers “Megathon” on Citizen Science Day — participants were rewarded for their contributions with a certificate from SciStarter due to the API tracking. The social network analysis, also enabled by the API, allows us to see engagement patterns of our participants across other projects in the citizen science ecosystem, which helps us with recruitment and research strategies. We can also target our recruiting efforts to reach people from the SciStarter community based on location, experiences and even interests! The API and affiliate tools also make it easier to reach school districts, the Girl Scouts USA, and other groups, which helps grow our community.
Find Stall Catchers on SciStarter.
BEST FOR: Project owners with limited web development resources or no sign up/login options.
Case Study: Caren Cooper, Ph.D. | Associate Professor, Forestry and Environmental Resources and Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence in Leadership in Public Science, North Carolina State University; Director of Research Partnerships, SciStarter
Using the SciStarter Login System (see oAuth or OpenID on SciStarter.org/API) directly on our project website has been effective for Sparrow Swap. To participate in Sparrow Swap, participants learn to collect house sparrow eggs and then test management strategies, making this a project that mainly takes place off-line. SciStarter gives us an easy and user-friendly way for participants to sign up on our website, automatically getting a SciStarter account via a single sign-up. We’re then able to tally data submissions in the SciStarter volunteer management system, allowing our community of volunteers to automatically see when we received their eggs via the update in their SciStarter dashboard. We also leveraged SciStarter’s existing tools to message participants.
Find Sparrow Swap on SciStarter.
BEST FOR: Anyone seeking to add citizen science to their website!
Case Study #1: Sarah Milstead Post | Program and Library Support Manager, Cornerstones of Science
Cornerstones of Science works with public libraries around the country to provide programs and resources that help people understand how science and technology affects their daily lives and the world around them. We added a SciStarter Project Finder widget to our homepage to introduce librarians who use our website to citizen science. Many librarians don’t know about the breadth of citizen science — the things they can do both locally and nationally — and about all the variety of citizen science projects that can be integrated into library programs and resources. By putting this widget on our website, we provide a way for librarians to get started with citizen science, helping them access an initial project so they can get comfortable with citizen science in general. Though our website is focused on librarians, when we meet people at events, we let them know that the widget is accessible for them, too, and is a way to introduce them to citizen science.
Find the SciStarter Project Finder Widget on the Cornerstones of Science homepage.
Case Study #2: Kate Stone | President and CEO, Science Connected
Science Connected is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of science and creating equal access to science education. By embedding the SciStarter Project Finder widget on our Science Connected Magazine blog, we inform our community of science enthusiasts about real research that they can do, suggesting specific projects they can participate in and thereby providing immediate ways for them to take action.
Find the SciStarter Project Finder Widget on the Citizen Science Connected blog hosted by Science Connected.
Details and documentation for developers can be found on SciStarter.org/API.