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It started when two canine scientists decide to become pen pals in an era of digital media...

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Dogs Are Like Porn: All Over the Internet and Waiting For You

Hi Mia,

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I’m coming to you hopped up on 3 cups of coffee, a chocolate chip cookie and a barrel of excitement. This weekend, I’m participating at Science Hack Day: Science in the City, an event in its second year running. The host is Francois Grey (Twitter:@FrancoisGrey) a physicist and the head of Citizen Science at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress.

This two-day event is built on a simple premise:

Life in the city is complicated, and sometimes the only way to solve an urban problem is with a hack–a science hack, that is.

Science hacks are low-cost, elegant workarounds that create useful scientific projects. Science Hack Day is a two-day event that brings together scientists, designers, developers and innovators who will invent, build and test their projects.


On Saturday morning, thirteen hacks were pitched, and anyone who is interested can drop by to participate in Downtown Brooklyn. I’m surrounded by people either tinkering away on computers or other robotic-looking structures. Others took to the streets to record the sounds of the city or set-up hi-tech trash cans. Tomorrow I have the pleasure of sitting on a panel that will give out awards for the best Science Hacks.


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You know exactly what I'm talking about because you were all jazzed after attending  Science Rewired (and covered the experience here), and a while back, I listed some of my favorite #citsci projects, including projects involving laughing babies, otters and clouds. 

For those less familiar with public participation science projects, here’s a short, quick and dirty video describing the wide range of projects that anyone can join. Being involved is not only about participating in research and helping researchers, it's also about learning more about local communities, collecting relevant data (say on air quality in your neighborhood), and in some cases, making new discoveries:



But what about dogs? Much of the canine research in recent years is conducted in academic lab spaces or owner homes, but over the last few years, we’ve seen immense growth in virtual, online projects that require active participation from anyone in the world. As examples, we've previously blogged about Project: Play With Your Dog as well as Poo Power!



Here are online, public participation dog science projects that anyone in the world can join:

C-BARQ (Free)
A questionnaire designed to provide dog owners and professionals with standardized evaluations of canine temperament and behavior. 

Dognition 
A variety of science-based games that Dognition members can sign up for and play with their pup.

Emotional Content of Vocalizations (Free)
What is the emotional content of dog and human vocalizations? Listen and submit your answer (I covered this study on Scientific American, dedicating a lot of words to making fun of Bret Michaels, as is appropriate).

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Howl Coder (Free)
The Canid Howl Project is the work of a large number of scientists, trying to understand the range of different vocal behaviours of canids, primarily wolves, dogs, and coyotes. Participants listen to vocalizations and analyze the recordings.

Woof! (Free)
The Woof! experiment explores how people respond to dog barks. The study is trying to better understand how we respond to everyday sounds.

Risk factors for low-appeal shelter dogs (Free) 
This online study investigates how descriptors and physical appearance affect shelter dog length of stay and adoption success. Participants help by tagging images of dogs.

Factors contributing to aggressive impulsivity in the dogs
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This is a serious welfare problem for both humans and dogs. PhD student Fernanda Fadel is trying to identify genetic risk factors in dogs which may allow researchers to develop a simple test to identify at-risk individuals. These dogs may need specific management measures to help them live happy and fulfilling lives, at minimal risk to others. Participate by completing a short questionnaire. 

Canine Researchers! Do you have an online, public participation project that we haven't listed here? Email us, and let us know! doyoubelieveindog@gmail.com
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Projects often revolve around researchers and participants, and each group can have slightly different needs. 


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RESEARCHERS! I imagine that many of our colleagues are looking for study participants. Hooking up with citizen science project aggregators, like those listed below, is a great way to find interested participants. Researchers spend months and months on project design and methods, but recruiting and engaging participants is an entirely different bag of worms. Some of the below websites focus on participant recruitment and engagement. For example, SciStarter has many tools and resources for citizen science projects seeking participants.

PARTICIPANTS! It's not just about dogs, although dogs are very excellent. Many public science projects need help collecting and analyzing data on a wide range of topics. Interested in plants? Interested in birds? Interested in whale vocalizations? There's something for everyone. Take a look below:

SciStarter
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“SciStarter is the place to find, join, and contribute to science through recreational activities and citizen science research projects. Our database of citizen science projects enable discovery, organization, and greater participation in citizen science.”

CitSci.org
“CitSci.org supports your research by providing tools and resources that allow you to customize your scientific procedure - all in one location on the internet."


Cornell Lab of Ornithology
"Anyone who watches birds, from backyards to city streets to remote forests, can help researchers better understand birds and their habits."

Zooniverse

"Zooniverse contains projects produced, maintained and developed by the Citizen Science Alliance. The member institutions of the CSA work with many academic and other partners around the world to produce projects that use the efforts and ability of volunteers to help scientists and researchers."

Scientific American

An aggregator of many public engagement projects.

Your Wild Life 

Many projects that "explore the biodiversity in our daily lives." I’m pretty psyched about the new Cat Tracker project

These are just a sampling of non-canine projects flying around the Internet. If anyone has contributed to public participation projects, we'd love to hear about your experience.

See you in T minus 2 weeks!!!!

Julie