If you have a computer, you can help move museum research forward in three minutes or less.

Community scientists can use Notes from Nature, a digital platform funded by the National Science Foundation, to contribute to research around the world by transcribing handwritten information about museum specimens.

These specimens provide an invaluable record of life on Earth, telling the story of a changing climate, invasive species, evolution, disease and how plants and animals have moved over time. But handwritten specimen labels are a roadblock in scientists’ efforts to find target species online or use them in big data studies.

“If it takes three minutes to transcribe one specimen label, it would take one person 342 years working 24 hours a day to transcribe all of the specimens in the U.S. alone. That’s why we need the public’s help,” said Julie Allen, assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno and a Notes from Nature principal investigator.

That’s where you come in.

Your efforts help researchers investigate topics ranging from the ideal living conditions of lice to how climate change is affecting when plants flower in California. Every completed transcription brings us closer to filling gaps in our knowledge of global biodiversity and natural heritage.

So, take a break from scrolling, and become a virtual science volunteer!

On the hunt for more?

Surf the Zooniverse, an online platform for finding community science projects that can be done from your couch. It’s also where you can connect with new Notes from Nature projects.

You can also follow Notes from Nature on Twitter at @nfromn.

Robert Guralnick, Florida Museum curator of informatics, is also a Notes from Nature principal investigator. Allen is a former Florida Museum postdoctoral researcher.

Sources: Julie Allen, jallen23@unr.edu;
Robert Guralnick, rguralnick@flmnh.ufl.edu