Earthwatch: Frequent Questions from Scientists
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What kind of funding is offered by Earthwatch?


How does the Earthwatch funding model work?


What does a field grant cover?


Does Earthwatch provide funding to attend conferences, symposia, or workshops?


Does Earthwatch provide funding to attend conferences, symposia, or workshops?


What are the eligibility requirements for PIs?


How many years of project funding are typically provided by Earthwatch?


What documents will I be required to complete for my Earthwatch project?


Who are the citizen-science volunteers?


What research tasks are typically performed by Earthwatch volunteers?


Whom should I contact with questions regarding the proposal process?



What kind of funding is offered by Earthwatch?

Earthwatch funding is participant-based, whereby volunteers pay to directly assist scientists with their work in the field. Typically, projects require 30-60 volunteers per fielding season, distributed over multiple field teams. For example, during a given year a principal investigator may run 4-8 teams of 5-12 volunteers per team. Most projects have teams field for approximately 8-15 days each.

Earthwatch supports projects with a duration of at least 3 years, longer-term research may receive priority support.



How does the Earthwatch funding model work?

Earthwatch awards research grants on a per-capita basis based on the number of volunteers on a project. Typical annual grants average between US $20,000 - $80,000, with approximately half covering volunteer expenses while on the project. For successful proposals, the principal investigator will negotiate a budget in partnership with Earthwatch. Final grants received are based on the number of volunteers participating.


What does a field grant cover?

Earthwatch grants help cover project expenses while in the field including:

  • Equipment (limited), tools, and supplies;
  • Research permits;
  • Food and housing for principal investigators, staff, and Earthwatch participants;
  • Scientist transport to the field; and
  • Support staff

Grants do not cover capital equipment (e.g., vehicles, boats), principal investigator salaries, overhead, student tuition, or post-field data analysis.



Does Earthwatch provide funding to attend conferences, symposia, or workshops?

No.


What are the eligibility requirements for PIs?

All PIs must have a PhD and an affiliation with a university, government agency, or nonprofit organization. We strongly encourage graduate student participation in projects as co-PIs when allowed by the PI’s sponsoring institution. We also are particularly interested in helping support early-career scientists from emerging nations. All PIs must be fluent in spoken and written English.

Due to safety concerns at this time, we are unable to support any research projects in the following regions: Earthwatch ‘No Go’ List.


How many years of project funding are typically provided by Earthwatch?

Successful proposals are funded for three years, subject to passing an annual performance review. Funding is potentially renewable beyond that period, upon submission of and peer review of a research renewal proposal. We have funded some projects for more than a decade.


What documents will I be required to complete for my Earthwatch project?

The following documents are required as part of a research proposal:

Annual documents:

  • Emergency Response Plan – collates key information for use in the event of an incident
  • Risk Assessment – helps identify risks and proactive control measures to mitigate risks
  • Expedition Briefing – provides critical project information to citizen scientist volunteers
  • Budget
  • Field Report – report to identify progress towards research objectives; report must be completed 90 days after end of the last Earthwatch team
  • Evaluation – platform for PIs to give feedback to Earthwatch
  • Child Protection Policy – signed by scientists and field staff working with teens on teen teams

Documents completed every 3 years:

  • Research Proposal – completed ~12 months before the fourth year fielding season
  • Background Check – completed for scientists and field staff working with teens on teen teams

Who are the citizen-science volunteers?

Earthwatch recruits volunteers worldwide. Earthwatch projects are run in English and volunteers range in age from 15 to 80 years old. Volunteers are non-specialists and are not required to have any previous experience prior to joining scientists in the field. Typical Earthwatch volunteers are:

  • College-educated (40 percent have a graduate degree);
  • Willing to donate time, money, and services to scientific field research;
  • Committed to becoming involved in identifying solutions to scientific, environmental, and cultural questions and issues.

What research tasks are typically performed by Earthwatch volunteers?

Earthwatch volunteers can greatly increase the data-gathering capacity of field research projects. Volunteer tasks must directly contribute to research objectives and collect actual data that will be used for analysis. Volunteers typically are able to perform many of the ecological sampling tasks assigned to field technicians that involve standard ecological sampling methods, such as:

  • Distance sampling including photographing and recording marine mammals;
  • Monitoring water quality in lakes, streams, wetlands, and agricultural areas;
  • Animal tracking and focal observations;
  • Collection and preparation of samples for future lab analysis, including soil cores and plant specimens;
  • Radio-tracking;
  • Camera trap deployment, image recovery, and species cataloging;
  • BRUV monitoring and cataloging;
  • Nest monitoring (birds and sea turtles);
  • Assessing vegetation growth patterns (including forestry metrics like measuring dbh, canopy coverage, basal density, etc.);
  • Collecting data on experimental treatments; and
  • Field chores associated with the research project (e.g. trail clean up, equipment cleaning and care, etc.)

In addition, on numerous occasions Earthwatch volunteers with specific professional expertise— from computer programming to electronics to construction to public health—have made valuable contributions to research efforts.


Whom should I contact with questions regarding the proposal process?

Questions regarding the research proposal process can be addressed to the Research Department at research@earthwatch.org. At the full proposal stage, questions can be addressed by your assigned Program Manager or Research Manager. Contact information for your project managers can be found in the invitation you received when you were invited to complete a full proposal.



Submit a Pre-Proposal

Puerto Ricos Rainforest

Earthwatch will select pre-proposals for development into full research proposals. To submit a pre-proposal, click here.