What connections do citizen scientists identify between personal pursuits with professional ones?

  Reading Time: 2 minutes

Harri Högmander is a Senior Lecturer in Statistics at the University of Jyväskylä who has been involved in citizen science through his extensive experience and leadership in the citizen science organizations of Central Finland Bird Club and BirdLife Finland. Originally, Högmander was a graduate in mathematics who felt little passion to pursue his studies further, so he turned to his bird-watching hobby for some inspiration. He then began writing a doctoral dissertation in Statistics based on his hobby experience to devise a method for “measuring the distribution of organisms” (Kananen, 2020).

Högmander was able to begin writing his dissertation first because of his observations between hobby and professional science. He says, “you must justify your observations, demonstrate their significance and assess any uncertainty. There is competition in both science and hobbies, and neither tolerates cheaters.” Regarding technology in citizen science, he notes, “many citizen science groups that work in the natural sciences have benefited from technology because observations are easier to save, and communication is smoother. Faster feedback in the digital world is also a great advancement, which encourages even more active participation” (Kananen, 2020).

Conclusion based on a selected portion of the interview’s content 

Birdwatching has allowed Högmander to establish an intimate and practical connection between hobby and science. The skills, knowledge, observations, methodology, and technology utilized in recreational science activities are akin to those used in professional research and thus contributing to the overall availability of important scientific data. However, it was the passion for birdwatching that drove Högmander to advance his professional research.


Kananen, A. (23 April 2020). Citizen science as a multifaceted data source. JYUnity. https://jyunity.fi/en/science-news/citizen-science-is-a-multifaceted-data-source/

Harri Högmander (photo by Petteri Kivimäki in Kananen, 2020)

Audience: Educators
Categories: Beta Interview


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