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From Conservation to Crowdsourcing: A Typology of Citizen Science
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From Conservation to Crowdsourcing: A Typology of Citizen Science

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Presentation from HICSS-44 on a typology of citizen science project types.

Presentation from HICSS-44 on a typology of citizen science project types.

Published in: Technology, Education

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  • 1. From Conservation to Crowdsourcing: A Typology of Citizen Science A Typology of Citizen Science
    • Andrea Wiggins & Kevin Crowston, Syracuse University
      • 7 January, 2011 ~ HICSS-44
  • 2. Introduction
    • Citizen Science
      • Crowdsourcing scientific research through virtual collaboration between professional researchers and the public
      • Collective goals are addressed through open participation in research
    • Motivations
      • Describe landscape of citizen science
      • Support future research, cyberinfrastructure design, and project management
  • 3. Related Work
    • More like scientific cyberinfrastructure projects than collaboratories
    • Peer production: similar task structure but different with respect to hierarchical form, not self-organizing
    • Communities of practice: motivation and progressive engagement
    • Not necessarily “open science” but science with open participation, and often open data
    • Prior typologies in the environmental sciences focus on public engagement in different steps of scientific research
  • 4. Methods
    • Landscape sampling : purposive and comprehensive in type, rather than frequency
    • Examined 30 projects on 80 facets drawn from theoretical framework
      • Manually collected data from the web, published reports, and interviews
      • Example facet types : project demographics, organizational affiliations, funding sources, outcomes, processes, technologies, project and task design
    • Inductive qualitative clustering on dominant project goals and virtuality
    • Practitioner review : intuitive fit to experiences
  • 5. Typology Type Primary Goals Physicality Action Action & Intervention ✓ Conservation Conservation & Stewardship ✓ Investigation Science ✓ Virtual Science - Education Education & Outreach ✓
  • 6. Action
    • Volunteer-initiated participatory action research to encourage intervention in local concerns
    • Example : Sherman’s Creek Conservation Association protected a creek through political action supported by scientific water monitoring
    • Scientific : substantial volunteer commitment may be required; results not likely to become scholarly knowledge; variation across local projects makes aggregating data difficult
    • Organizational : local organizing and scale; long-term sustainability
    • Technology : minimal IT use; technology is often burdensome to maintain, and other means of coordination may be easier
  • 7. Conservation
    • Address natural resource management goals by involving citizens in stewardship for outreach and increased scope
    • Example : Northeast Phenology Monitoring is a regional partnership for long-term ecological monitoring in the National Parks
    • Scientific : focus on resource management decision-making; tend toward conservative research design with established volunteer groups
    • Organizational : long-term goals and government funding sources; initiated by academics or resource managers; usually regional scale
    • Technology : full range of sophistication, from no online data entry forms to smartphone apps for data submission of geotagged photos
  • 8. Investigation
    • Focus on scientific research goals in a physical setting
    • Example : the Great Sunflower Project is studying ecological health through volunteers’ observations of bee visits to sunflowers
    • Scientific : careful design for scientific validity with diverse validation methods; geospatial distribution of volunteers is an asset and a bias
    • Organizational : larger scale; organized by academics or nonprofits; diverse sustainability strategies
    • Technology : diverse; online data entry is standard practice, but access to data is less consistent
  • 9. Virtual
    • Similar goals to Investigation projects (scientific knowledge production), but entirely ICT-mediated and different in several other respects
    • Example : Galaxy Zoo is classifying millions of galaxies by having volunteers judge galaxy characteristics in image recognition tasks
    • Scientific : replication is the primary validation method; online participation requires task design that is both useful and interesting
    • Organizational : organized by academics and supported by research funding; frequently indeterminate in duration
    • Technology : complex custom web platforms; supports reputation rewards, friendly competition, and performance feedback
  • 10. Education
    • Education and outreach are the primary stated goals
    • Example : Fossil Finders investigates Devonian-age fossils by partnering paleontologists with primary school classrooms
    • Scientific : relative cost is high; wide range of scientific rigor; emphasis on scientific inquiry skills over scientifically valid results
    • Organizational : top-down partnerships with substantial funding; intended duration and sustainability questionable
    • Technology : online data entry is standard practice; content and functionality may differ for youth and adult audiences
  • 11. Contributions & Implications
    • Contributions
      • Complementary to prior participation-based typologies
      • Identifies previously unrecognized class of projects
    • Implications
      • Guide sampling for future research with readily identifiable info
      • Suggests further inquiry into virtuality and task design
      • Provides examples of project designs and technologies as a resource for future development and evaluation
  • 12. Limitations & Future Work
    • Limitations
      • Small sample
      • Secondary data
      • Qualitative analysis methods
    • Future work
      • Citizen science project survey using quantitative analysis methods
      • Case studies examining project types in greater depth
  • 13. Questions?
    • Thanks!
    • Acknowledgements
      • NSF OCI Grant 09- 43049
      • Public Participation in Scientific Research reading group at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
    • More
      • http://voss.syr.edu
      • awiggins@syr.edu, crowston@syr.edu