Online Communities in Citizen Science


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Guest lecture for Cornell University Department of Information Science course on Online Communities (3460).

Published in: Technology

Online Communities in Citizen Science

  1. 1. Online Communities in Citizen Science Andrea Wiggins Postdoctoral FellowUniversity of New Mexico & Cornell University 8 November, 2012
  2. 2. What is citizen science?Members of the public engaging in real-worldscientific research Crowdsourcing Collaboration Community
  3. 3. What is citizen science? public participation in science cro r so w d - ee g nt in urc ing olu itor v n mo online communities * infrastructure cyber- scientific collaboration = citizen science
  4. 4. What is citizen science? intelligent mobile sensor net work ?crowdsourcing science humancomputation Public Participation in Scientific Research
  5. 5. Typ(ologi)es of citizen scienceGoals and placeParticipation in scientific tasksContribution typesParticipant experiencesand more...
  6. 6. Participation in scientific tasksPPSR$models: Contributory* Collabora1ve* CoACreated*Define*a*ques1on/issue*Gather*informa1on*Develop*explana1ons*Design*data*collec1on*methods*Collect*samples*Analyze*samples*Analyze*data*Interpret*data/conclude*Disseminate*conclusions*Discuss*results/inquire*further* CAISE Report, 2009
  7. 7. Goals and the role of place Type Primary Goals Physicality Action & Action ✓ Intervention Conservation &Conservation ✓ StewardshipInvestigation Science ✓ Virtual Science Education & Education ✓ Outreach Wiggins & Crowston, 2011
  8. 8. Contribution types Data collection• Most common• Observations & measurements Data processing• On the rise• Entirely virtual• Image recognition & puzzle solving Data transcription• On the rise• Mostly virtual
  9. 9. Participant experienceSharing my data/experiences• Fits into daily life• People like to share their passionsWorking on their/our tasks• Novel tasks• Can reinforce hierarchyPlaying games & solving puzzles• Fits into daily life• Explicit symbolic rewards, entertaining
  10. 10. What does it accomplish?engage%cri)cal%thinking%(Trumbull%et%al%2000)%science%learning,%bonding%(Kountoupes%and%Oberhauser%2008)%environmental%ac)on;%social%networks%(Overdevest%et%al.%2004)%social%capital%(Ballard%2008)%improved%policy%(Wing%et%al.%2008)%
  11. 11. What does it accomplish?documen(ng*range*shi0s*(Bonter*et*al.*unpublished*data)*iden(fying*poten(al*mismatches*(Batalden*et*al.*2007)*iden(fying*vulnerable*species*(Crimmins*et*al*2008,*2009)*health*planning*(Leve(n*and*Van*de*Water*2008)*an(cipa(ng*effects*on*water*sources*(e.g.,*CoCoRaHS)*processing  large  image  data  sets(e.g.,  Zooniverse  projects)applying  human  computa:on  skills(e.g.,  Foldit)
  12. 12. Galaxy Zoo Classifying images of galaxies Participation involves: Looking at pictures of galaxies online Answering a few questions about themStarted in 2007 by a team of academic astronomers Instant success and exciting new discoveries Galaxy Zoo 1, Year 1: 50M classifications, 150K volunteers Galaxy Zoo 2, Year 2: 60M classifications in 14 months Hanny’s Voorwerp Green Pea galaxies
  13. 13. eBird Collecting bird abundance and distribution data Participation involves: Choosing observation methods Recording bird observations (analog or digital) Entering observations and metadata onlineLaunched in 2002 by Cornell Lab of Ornithology(with National Audubon Society)World’s largest biodiversity data set: 100M recordsCurrently receives about 3M observations/monthData used in research and decision-making for landmanagement, policy (and recreation)
  14. 14. Crowds vs CommunitiesIs citizen science crowdsourcing?When is it crowdsourcing, and when is it not?What separates a crowd from a community?Crowdsourcing versus communitysourcing?
  15. 15. Motivations Galaxy ZooMotivations: similar to other participant surveysForums: evidence of shared interests & practices AliceReader to Scientist!
  16. 16. More than just motivationMotivations Intrinsic (altruism) Extrinsic (money) DynamicPersonal Values (domain, science)Individual Goals (contributing)
  17. 17. Implications for DesignWho will participate?Why will theyparticipate?How will they berewarded?How can experiences beexpanded?
  18. 18. Which Came First?Science-first project design Tech focuses on data entry Experiences are usually simplified scienceCitizen-first project design Tech focuses on ease of use Experience adapts existing leisure practices Self-rewarded & socially rewarded
  19. 19. ICTs for Citizen Science Web-based data entry & social tools“Vanilla” websiteCMSCustom platform Mobile GamesCitizenSort image courtesy of Eric Graham
  20. 20. Images courtesy of Nathan Prestopnik and the CitizenSort team at Syracuse University US NSF Grant # 09-68470
  21. 21. Online CommunitiesWe don’t know much!Primary social & communication tool in virtual (place-independent) projectsBut what about... Place-dependent projects Pre-existing communities Scale of participationCohesive systems vs system assemblages
  22. 22. What makes it a community?How did you judge whether a citizen scienceproject you reviewed has an onlinecommunity or not? Blogs + forums + social media Leaderboards, visibility of others’ data, “shared checklists”Were there signs of offline community? What are the implications of that?
  23. 23. Communities in Citizen SciencePrimary recruitment method (in place-based) Not feasible for entirely virtual projectsImportant for retention Come for the coffee, stay for the conversationMain community engagement strategies Traditional: tapping into existing communities Virtual: creating a new community
  24. 24. Unrealized potential valueRetention toolRecruitment toolCapture serendipityPromote inquiryGather evaluation dataMore...
  25. 25. ChallengesStrategic implementation required withexisting communities$$$Active managementTechnical resourcesZooniverse research underway to learn moreYay, Sloan Foundation!
  26. 26. Thanks!
  27. 27. Typologies• Lawrence, A. (2006). “No Personal Motive?” Volunteers, Biodiversity, and the False Dichotomies of Participation. Ethics,  Place  &  Environment, 9(3), 279-298.• Bonney, R., Ballard, H., Jordan, R., McCallie, E., Phillips, T., Shirk, J., et al. (2009). Public Participation in Scientific Research: Defining the Field and Assessing Its Potential for Informal Science Education. A CAISE Inquiry Group Report (Tech. Rep.).• Danielsen, F., Burgess, N., Balmford, A., Donald, P., Funder, M., Jones, J., et al. (2009). Local participation in natural resource monitoring: a characterization of approaches. Conserva4on  Biology, 23(1), 31–42.• Cooper,C. B., Dickinson, J., Phillips, T., & Bonney, R. (2007). Citizen Science as a Tool for Conservation in Residential Ecosystems.  Ecology  and  Society, 12(2).• Wilderman, C. C. (2007). Models of community science: design lessons from the field. Proceedings of Citizen Science Toolkit Conference.• Wiggins,A. & Crowston, K. (2011). From Conservation to Crowdsourcing: A Typology of Citizen Science. Proceedings of the 44th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.• Wiggins, A. & Crowston, K. (2012). Goals and Tasks: Two Typologies of Citizen Science Projects. Proceedings of the 45th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences. 16
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