What does it mean to be an expert?

Having “upper” academic training is no measure of someone’s expertise, and never should be the defining characteristic of what an expert is. On the other hand, people with advanced education are probably statistically more likely to be experts. That’s something that was probably more the case 20, 30+ years ago when citizen science and accessible literature was more of a problem.

A lot of researchers and taxonomists these days, the people publishing species revisions and studying those species, are hobbyists. They do it in their free time because there is no job that encompasses that role. Additionally, a lot of necessarily field skills are not taught in the classroom so that’s where “amateur” and “untrained” experts become valuable.


That may be true in botany, perhaps entomology. I don’t know. Most of the vertebrate species revisions I’m aware of are by academics, including grad students doing dissertations and master’s theses. The genomics labs are pretty much at universities.

How can we address the problem of gatekeeping? For instance, in order to validate your Google Scholar account, you need to provide an institutional email address, different from your personal one. This excludes those who may have published peer-reviewed articles, but are not affiliated with a research institution.


Never say your always right.
When I started on inat I didn’t know much But thanks to the help of @skipperdogman @wild__wind and @llyod_esler who helped me quite a lot with learning to identify New Zealand birds and now I am one of the top. So in my opinion it is not one person to make an expert but many.