Join the Zooniverse. Be a Zoonite.

Published: May 30th, 2017

Category: News, Non-UF research

By Hannah Klatzkow

The biggest obstacle facing current researchers is the unprecedented amount of data that is being collected, shared, and made accessible. The seemingly limitless amount of information that needs to be sorted and analyzed is a very challenging task for the typical research team. While computer systems are being developed to help process this data, technology is not always a viable solution. Humans still remain superior at analyzing patterns and making meaning out of data.

Zooniverse, the world’s largest scientific classification platform, was founded in 2007 to help solve this demand for increased data analysis. Launched by the Galaxy Zoo Project, Zooniverse unites more than one million volunteer users, called ‘Zoonites,’ across the globe. The vast majority of Zooniverse volunteers have limited science experience, but rather leverage a deep love for the advancement of the scientific community as a whole. At Zooniverse, anyone with a computer can become a researcher. Depending on the desired level of involvement, Zoonites can join a research project by becoming a beta tester or project moderator. They may also join in on the discussion board, where much of the collaboration between volunteers and professional researchers takes place. There are dozens of projects available at any given time, with diverse topics including medicine, nature, humanities, physics, and climate. Accuracy of the data produced by the volunteers is ensured by the principle of ‘wisdom of crowds’ – the large number of individuals working with the same data leads to cross-checking and editing, and there is always the presence of trained, professional researchers.

The success of Zooniverse truly shows. Volunteers, as Zoonites, have helped facilitate the production of over 100 published research papers, contributing time, manpower, and unique perspectives towards the projects. By opening research to the general public, the scientific community has much to gain.

To learn more about Zooniverse, including how to get involved, please visit: https://www.zooniverse.org/.

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