Helpful Tools

Helpful Tools

Here you will find online tools which can be used mostly free of charge for the creation of Citizen Science projects, surveys and data visualisations. This compilation will serve as an overview.

The list is not exhaustive and it will be expanded continuously. If you have any suggestions for other tools, we will be pleased to include them. Please send them to

Setting up a Citizen Science project

The Citizen Science Central Toolkit provides a step-by-step guide for project design, from the research question to the evaluation of the project.

The Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit is a treasure trove for materials related to Citizen Science, e.g. for scientific publications or case studies. Here you can also find a guide for the creation of projects. is a United States platform of the Colorado State University which provides tools for the whole research process, from project creation and data analysis to the collection of feedback from participants.

Citizen Science Project Builder is an open and free tool by the Citizen Science Center Zurich which allows anyone to create a data analysis project.

Pybossa is a freely accessible platform for the creation of online projects in which volunteers can take part. To use it PyBossa must be installed; a step-by-step guide helps you to start your own project.

Wildlife Sightings is a platform for the creation of projects in the field of wild animal watching. Programming knowledge is not necessary.

Zooniverse offers the possibility to create a citizen science project and present it as an official Zooniverse project on the platform.

Creating smartphone apps

With Cyber tracker you can create a smartphone app (Android) for GPS data collection free of charge. Programming skills are not required.

With Epicollect you can collect individualised geotag information together with pictures via smartphones (Android and iPhone) and present it on a project website which has been created specifically for this purpose. The platform is free of charge. Programming skills are not required.

With Sensr you can create project apps for smartphones (iPhone) free of charge or take part in already existing projects. Programming skills are not required.

SPOTTERON is a smartphone app system (Android and iPhone) for documenting localised and specific sightings. The collected data is edited for evaluation and represented on maps. It is a payable service.

The Mobile Collective develops mobile apps, websites and platforms and designs creative collaboration events like hackathons. It is a payable service.

Naturelocator is a company which supports projects in the development of smartphone apps for the collection of environmental data. It is a payable service.

Geoodk is an open source platform for projects working with GIS information. Geographic data can be collected via app, edited and visualised. This video tutorial offers an comprehensive introduction.

Persons with programming skills can get help with their app development on the platform Stack Overflow. A community of almost 5 mio. programmers ask and answer questions in a forum.

Apps for recording sensor data

AndroSensor supports all sensors in android devices and is available in different languages. The layout of the app is not as appealing as in Science Journal.

Science Journal is a graphically appealing app, but supports only a limited amount of sensors. Also notes, pictures and videos can be added.


The Public lab provides simple and cheap do-it-yourself tools for researching/monitoring the local environment (air, water, land). It will enable local communities/individuals to identify environmental problems autonomously and thus raise awareness.

Tekla lab is a global community of volunteers which provides construction manuals for the creation of inexpensive laboratory equipment in order to enable research worldwide.

Data visualisation

Prezi is an internet-based programme for creating presentations which can be published and downloaded. One free version and two fee-based versions are available.

With SlideShare you can upload, share and archive infographics, documents, videos, PDFs and webinars privately or publically.

Google Fusion Tables is a web service provided by Google for data management. Fusion tables can be used for gathering, visualising and sharing data tables.

CartoDB supports the visualisation of geographical data. One free version and several fee-based versions are available.

OpenStreetMap is a database with geographical data, which can be used free of charge. With this you can for example create special maps and integrate them into websites and applications such as navigation software.

With JPL Infographics you can create infographics online from a pool of pictures, 3D models, factsheets and other information materials and upload them.

Visualising Health helps you to visualise health-related data in a comprehensible way. With the help of a wizard tool you can select suitable pictures, spreadsheets, charts and diagrams depending on your intended purpose.

OpenRefine is a standalone open source desktop application for data cleanup and transformation to other formats.

Open Data Kit (ODK) is a free and open source set of tools to collect data with the help of apps, surveys, and so on:

Whether you want to prepare a paper with colleagues, build a bibliographic database or create a reference collection of images and observations, Scratchpads can help.

Software for volunteer computing

Boinc is an open source software for distributed computing (“volunteer computing”).


Experimental Tribe is a platform for developing online games and experiments for scientific research projects.

Editing text, pictures, audio and videos

Office Suite
Libre Office is a good and free alternative to Microsoft Office: Writer (Word), Calc (Excel), Impress (Powerpoint), etc.

Image viewer & manager
XNView is a free tool to view and convert images and image libraries.

Picture editing
GIMP is a free alternative to Photoshop, although harder to work with and with fewer options.

Vector editing
Inkscape is a free vector tool as an alternative to Adobe Illustrator, easy to work with.

3D visualisation & videos
Blender is an alternative to 3D visualisation tools like 3DSmax or Maya. Like many free software tools, it is not easy to work with but very professional. Video editing is possible as well.

Animaker is an online animation video making software. Videos of up to 2 minutes are free of charge and can be uploaded to YouTube.

Renderforest is a cloud-based video maker for creating intro videos for e.g. YouTube, explainer animations or infographics. Creating videos with a maximum length of 3 minutes is free of charge.

Audio editor
Audacity is a free audio editor with effects.

Tools for surveys

On All Our Ideas you can create surveys free of charge which offers users the possibility to add ideas themselves.

SurveyMonkey helps to select the right questions and enables you to adjust the design of surveys individually. The standard version is free of charge.


The free online introductory course on citizen science consists of five modules and offers first insights into topics such as IT, motivations of citizen scientists and evaluations.

The free online course "Introduction to Citizen Science & Scientific Crowdsourcing" is conducted by researchers from the Extreme Citizen Science Group (ExCiteS) at University College London and provides a comprehensive overview of cItizen science.

Online courses for educators to support participation in citizen science projects are available for a fee of 70$.

Cooperation science & schools

Teaching materials that have emerged from the cooperation between science and schools and which have been developed especially for the school sector can be found on the Sparkling Science website.

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