USA Volunteer Water Monitoring Network

Research Studies of Volunteer Monitoring

Adapted from an article by Eleanor Ely in The Volunteer Monitor, Summer 2008 issue, Vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 8-11.

Ellie’s aim was to identify articles that made the very strongest case for the acceptance and use of volunteer-collected water-monitoring data in the scientific literature. Accordingly, all articles listed met the following rather stringent criteria:

1. They are research articles (not abstracts).
2. They are published in peer-reviewed journals (no book chapters, conference proceedings, agency reports, etc.).
3. Volunteers generated actual data (i.e., they measured or identified something) as opposed to simply collecting water samples.
4. The volunteer-generated data made a significant contribution to the research.
5. The use of volunteer-collected data is explicitly acknowledged and described in the article.

All the listed articles report on physical, chemical, or biological research (i.e., social science studies are not included), and all focused on water quality, aquatic organisms, or other water-related science.

They are separated into two lists:
Volunteer-Collected Data in Published Research Papers
Volunteer Monitoring Validation Studies Published in Science Journals

The validation studies evaluated the validity of methods or equipment used by volunteer monitors and/or the volunteers’ performance. Although a large number of volunteer monitoring validation studies have been conducted, only a small percentage are included in the list, which is limited to studies that have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Finally, we have developed a list of some publications that were not included in The Volunteer Monitor because they failed to meet one or more of the criteria listed above. However, these publications do provide additional examples of volunteer monitors’ contributions to scientific research:
Additional Examples of Publications Referencing Volunteer Data

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