Over the last few years, there has been a surge in public-participation science projects, and I don't mean watching dog videos on YouTube.
These science projects reach around the world; sometimes they are entirely online, and other times they ask participants to go out into the world, do something and report back. I keep up with citizen science projects by following two blogs: CitizenSci on PLOS, and Citizen Science Salon on Discover, both managed by SciStarter, a place to find, join, and contribute to science.
Nowadays, several dog research groups are explicitly using this online approach in their research. Below are a list of current, online, public participation dog science projects that anyone in the world can join:
What are dogs doing when we're not home? Dog owners are being asked to complete a detailed survey to help researchers analyze the various clinical signs and situations in which problems occur.
A questionnaire designed to provide dog owners and professionals with standardized evaluations of canine temperament and behavior. The C-BARQ is commonly referenced in research articles.
Self-Disclosure with Dogs (Free)
This survey assesses your tendency to reveal certain thoughts, feelings and emotions to two different individuals; your long term human partner/ spouse versus your dog. The study is looking for people who are currently married, in a civil-partnership or are in a stable, long-term relationship and own at least one dog.
Aggressive behavior in dogs is a serious welfare problem for both humans and dogs. This study aims to identify the genetic risk factors in dogs that may allow researchers to develop a simple test to identify at-risk individuals who may need specific management measures to help them live happy and fulfilling lives, at minimal risk to others. Participate by completing a short questionnaire.
What is the emotional content of dog and human vocalizations? Listen and submit your answer (I covered this study a while back and dedicated many words to making fun of Bret Michaels. It just seemed appropriate).
Howl Coder (Free)
The Canid Howl Project is trying to understand the range of different canid vocalizations, involving primarily wolves, dogs, and coyotes. Participants help by listening to vocalizations and analyzing the recordings.
The Woof! experiment explores how people respond to dog barks. The study is trying to better understand how we respond to everyday sounds.
This online study investigates how physical appearance impacts shelter dog adoptions. Participants help by tagging images of dogs.
This survey explores the similarities and differences between two different methods of obtaining information about pet dogs. One method assesses pet dog behavior, and the other method assesses pet dog personality.
Did you know that participants in dog studies tend to be women? While that's a study in and of itself, men should consider participating in the above studies. You could say that many canine studies are "looking for a few good men."
Citizen science projects are commonly found on aggregating websites like Scistarter, Zooniverse, CitSci.org, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Your Wild Life and others. There is even a citizen science portal with many projects on Scientific American.
Have you checked out any citizen science projects? How was the experience? What did you learn?
Are you a canine researcher who has an online public participation project that isn’t listed here. Let me know!
Photo: Ok, Glass, Find Squirrel by Thomas Hawk via Flickr creative commons