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This page is a glossary of terms seen and used around Public Lab. On this page you'll find more information about some of the words use to describe Public Lab:


Open Community

Public Lab is a community anyone can participate in online and in person. Public Lab spaces include in-person events, google groups, and call-in spaces. All Public Lab spaces are open to anyone and are subject to the code of conduct.

To have your contributions attributed to you online, create a profile on which you can use on all Public Lab websites. Creating an online profile is not required to participate in Public Lab.


The Public Lab nonprofit is a 501(c)3 entity that supports the broader Public Lab community through providing resources, infrastructure and people support for the larger community. It is governed by a Board of Directors and is the body that employees the Public Lab staff.

Board of Directors

The Board is governed by the bylaws of the organization. The Board is a volunteer group of individuals who, to the best of their abilities, make policy and assume fiduciary responsibility for the full realization of the organization’s mission, goals, stability and security. The board is responsible for the hiring and firing of the Executive Director and overseeing the work of the Executive Director.


The Kits Initiative creates, assembles, and distributes kits (in the store) from the open research designs of the Public Lab community and affiliated individuals, organizations, and companies. Revenue from the Kits program directly supports the Public Lab nonprofit


Community member

Anyone who interacts with Public Lab through any channel online or offline.


Public Lab Fellows are individuals who are paid by the Public Lab nonprofit over different terms to take part in developing and applying Do-It-Together pollution monitoring techniques and advocacy.


Organizers are community members who are leaders in the Public Lab community, and have an interest in the way the Public Lab community collaborates and grows. Typically but not exclusively, these are people who are both key organizers in their local communities as well as key contributors to the broader Public Lab community through work on things such as the website, communications, events, and on the ground projects. Organizers often host events or moderate discussion lists, and help shepherd the Public Lab community in other ways. The organizers list is always expanding; anyone can be nominated or nominate themselves. You can support the work of community organizing by following the tag "organizers" and responding to requests that follow.

Ways to Communicate


The purpose of the Public Lab Blog is to capture the “who” in Public Lab. It is a space for people to share out the stories beyond the research results, and in more depth than the discussion lists.

Public Lab Q&A

The Public Lab question/answer system is designed to help connect people who have environmental questions with those who can help to answer them or provide resources on the subject. Anyone with a Public Lab account can ask or answer questions.


Posts or Research Notes are the primary way we share what we learn and critique one another's work. Research notes can include: photos, examples of things that you’ve done or made, requests for troubleshooting, proposals for new projects, announcements of events, and reports from field tests or meetups. Research notes are only editable by their authors.

Issue Briefs

An Issue Brief is a post on Public Lab that includes basic information about an issue or a local concern. The Issue Brief is intended to be a basic way to share the "who, what, where, and why" of an issue, while leaving lots of room for articulating the: "I don't know” that always exists when we’re just starting out. By compiling these things together and posting them, you're able to bring others into your exploration and/or concern. This will help you gather information, questions, resources from others, and share out as you learn. Read more on


Research notes can be written as activities for people to do to replicate something someone has tried. The focus of activities is to "show each other how to do something" rather than just tell people about something you've done.

Wiki page

Wiki pages are web pages that anyone can create or edit. They are used to collect information, documentation, and instructions. Unlike research notes which are only editable by the authors, wikis can be updated or edited by anyone with a Public Lab profile.

Project Pages

A Project Page is a wiki page on Public Lab where information on Projects can be collected and organized. Project pages can help you to: create a homepage for your project on Public Lab, organize project materials in once place, collaborate with others, attract project followers, share data, and collate questions related to your work. Read more on


Methods and Techniques pages are built to help explain a certain way in which someone can do environmental monitoring. They can include information on tools, protocols, or strategies for environmental monitoring. Method pages often include information about what environmental problem the method might be useful for, the limitations of the method, supporting literature, activities and questions related to the method.


You can read all about Public Lab events on Below are some examples of Public Lab events


The Public Lab Barnraising is the closest thing we have to a Public Lab conference -- but with an emphasis on "doing stuff together" rather than just presenting/talking. We come together to develop tools, toolkits, supporting materials such as guides and tutorials, test the tools and develop new research directions and projects. More information about Barnraisings can be found at

Open Call and Welcome Call

Open Call is a time every month when Public Lab opens a phone line and live online link for anyone to call in. People use the Open Call to talk to other Public Labbers, discuss projects, ideas and how to get involved. The call is every Tuesday, at 3pm ET (8pm GMT). Notes are kept on this page. The link to join the call on a computer is here. Or you can call in +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll) or +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) Meeting ID: 415 220 636 International numbers available here. The Welcome Call uses the same call in information as the Open Call, but starts 15 minutes before Open Call. It is intended as a place for newcomers to use to help get acquainted to Public Lab and the website.


OpenHour is a monthly interactive seminar hosted by the Public Lab Community both online through google hangout and a chat room, and also in in-person meetups. The topics of OpenHour vary from presentations on tools and methods, discussions on environmental issues, to approaches to data-based advocacy. OpenHours happen live, but also archive on the OpenHour page.


Workshops are local gatherings that focus on a specific topic and can be hosted by anyone. Workshop can focus on anything from community organizing, to methods exploration and activities. Learn more about hosting events here.

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