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Free as in Puppies: Compensating for ICT Constraints in Citizen Science

Presentation at CSCW 2013 in San Antonio, TX.

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Free As In Puppies:
Compensating for ICT
Constraints in Citizen Science

 Andrea Wiggins
 University of New Mexico & Cornell University
 andrea.wiggins@cornell.edu @AndreaWiggins
Citizen Science
A few examples




                 3
Related Work
✦   Participant-focused
    ✦   Individual learning            Trumbull et al., 2000
        (many more in Informal Science Education)

    ✦   Motivation         Nov et al., 2011; Rotman et al., 2012;
        Raddick et al., 2009
Related Work
✦   Project-focused
    ✦   Typologies       Cooper et al., 2007; Bonney et al., 2009;
        Wiggins & Crowston, 2010

    ✦   Data quality          Sheppard & Terveen, 2011; Wiggins et
        al., 2011; Wiggins et al., 2012
Assumptions

                        More
                       people

      Cool   Miracle   More     Better
$$$   new    occurs    data     science
      ICT

                       Better
                        data

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Free as in Puppies: Compensating for ICT Constraints in Citizen Science

  • 1. Free As In Puppies: Compensating for ICT Constraints in Citizen Science Andrea Wiggins University of New Mexico & Cornell University andrea.wiggins@cornell.edu @AndreaWiggins
  • 4. Related Work ✦ Participant-focused ✦ Individual learning Trumbull et al., 2000 (many more in Informal Science Education) ✦ Motivation Nov et al., 2011; Rotman et al., 2012; Raddick et al., 2009
  • 5. Related Work ✦ Project-focused ✦ Typologies Cooper et al., 2007; Bonney et al., 2009; Wiggins & Crowston, 2010 ✦ Data quality Sheppard & Terveen, 2011; Wiggins et al., 2011; Wiggins et al., 2012
  • 6. Assumptions More people Cool Miracle More Better $$$ new occurs data science ICT Better data
  • 7. Reality ✦ There is no money ✦ Free ICT are “free as in puppies” ✦ ICT is just one part of a complex sociotechnical system
  • 8. Research Question ✦ RQ: How do citizen science project organizers address key issues related to participation & data quality when resource constraints limit ICT options?
  • 9. Research Question ✦ RQ: How do citizen science project organizers address key issues related to participation & data quality when resource constraints limit ICT options? ✦ Answer: Creatively! ✦ Improving participation processes ✦ Expanding participation options ✦ Investing money & time strategically
  • 10. Research Design ✦ Comparative case study ✦ Theoretical sampling ✦ Project-level focus
  • 11. Research Design ✦ Data ✦ Interviews ✦ Documents ✦ Participation ✦ Observation ✦ Analysis ✦ Inductive & deductive qualitative content analysis
  • 12. Case Selection ✦ Same core tasks ✦ Go outside, look at stuff, submit data ✦ Similar purpose ✦ Conservation, education, research ✦ Contrasting resources ✦ eBird: 4.5 FTE, ~$300K/yr ✦ GSP & MW: 0.5/1.5 FTE, ~$15K/yr
  • 16. Recruitment ✦ #1 strategy: direct in-person contact ✦ ICT solution ✦ Effortless social recommendation via existing community practices: “This report was generated automatically by eBird v3” ✦ Alternate solution ✦ Data collected on paper ✦ Saturation marketing
  • 17. Retention ✦ ICT solution ✦ Mind-blowing data visualizations
  • 19. Retention ✦ ICT solution ✦ Mind-blowing data visualizations ✦ Alternate solutions ✦ Optimize participation processes ✦ Expand participation options* ✦ New communication strategies* *bonus research opportunities!
  • 21. Data Quality ✦ ICT solution ✦ Algorithmically flag outliers for review by small army of experts ✦ Alternate solutions ✦ Hone protocols ✦ Invest in good data entry forms ✦ Use complementary data sources
  • 22. Implications for Practice ✦ Good ICT is awesome - when you can afford it ✦ When you can’t... ✦ Combine available ICT with other (human, organizational) resources ✦ Unique resources often taken for granted ✦ Beware of free puppies
  • 23. Implications for Policy ✦ Citizen science is growing up ✦ Valid to fund on scientific merit ✦ Need better means of evaluating scientific merit of citizen science ✦ Consider ROI of research ✦ 1 week on oceanographic research vessel for a handful of researchers ✦ 1 year of eBird & 60M global data points used by 120K people/day
  • 24. Implications for CSCW ✦ When ICT options are limited, look for complementary resources & compensatory strategies ✦ Opportunity for cross-context comparisons ✦ Online communities ✦ Distributed scientific work ✦ Peer production
  • 25. Questions? ✦ Research made possible by... ✦ U.S. NSF ✦ eBird VOSS-0943049, ✦ The Great Sunf SOCS-0968470, & OCI-0830944 ✦ Awesome CSCW ✦ reviewers ✦ Mydissertation committee