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Online Communities in Citizen Science

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

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

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  • 1. Online Communities in Citizen Science Andrea Wiggins Postdoctoral FellowUniversity of New Mexico & Cornell University 8 November, 2012
  • 2. What is citizen science?Members of the public engaging in real-worldscientific research Crowdsourcing Collaboration Community
  • 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. What is citizen science? intelligent mobile sensor net work ?crowdsourcing science humancomputation Public Participation in Scientific Research
  • 5. Typ(ologi)es of citizen scienceGoals and placeParticipation in scientific tasksContribution typesParticipant experiencesand more...
  • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Motivations Galaxy ZooMotivations: similar to other participant surveysForums: evidence of shared interests & practices AliceReader to Leader......to Scientist! http://blog.galaxyzoo.org/2009/07/01/shes-an-astronomer-alice-sheppard/
  • 16. More than just motivationMotivations Intrinsic (altruism) Extrinsic (money) DynamicPersonal Values (domain, science)Individual Goals (contributing) http://www.flickr.com/photos/verbeeldingskr8/4875710270/
  • 17. Implications for DesignWho will participate?Why will theyparticipate?How will they berewarded?How can experiences beexpanded? http://www.flickr.com/photos/andymangold/4335799638/
  • 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 http://www.flickr.com/photos/hammer51012/495218105/
  • 19. ICTs for Citizen Science Web-based data entry & social tools“Vanilla” websiteCMSCustom platform Mobile GamesCitizenSort image courtesy of Eric Graham
  • 20. Images courtesy of Nathan Prestopnik and the CitizenSort team at Syracuse University US NSF Grant # 09-68470
  • 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. 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. 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. Unrealized potential valueRetention toolRecruitment toolCapture serendipityPromote inquiryGather evaluation dataMore...
  • 25. ChallengesStrategic implementation required withexisting communities$$$Active managementTechnical resourcesZooniverse research underway to learn moreYay, Sloan Foundation!
  • 26. Thanks!andrea.wiggins@cornell.edu@AndreaWigginsdataone.orgcitizenscience.organdreawiggins.com
  • 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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