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

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Presentation at CSCW 2013 in San Antonio, TX.

Published in: Technology

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

  1. 1. Free As In Puppies:Compensating for ICTConstraints in Citizen Science Andrea Wiggins University of New Mexico & Cornell University andrea.wiggins@cornell.edu @AndreaWiggins
  2. 2. Citizen Science
  3. 3. A few examples 3
  4. 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. 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. 6. Assumptions More people Cool Miracle More Better$$$ new occurs data science ICT Better data
  7. 7. Reality✦ There is no money✦ Free ICT are “free as in puppies”✦ ICT is just one part of a complex sociotechnical system
  8. 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. 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. 10. Research Design✦ Comparative case study ✦ Theoretical sampling ✦ Project-level focus
  11. 11. Research Design✦ Data ✦ Interviews ✦ Documents ✦ Participation ✦ Observation✦ Analysis ✦ Inductive & deductive qualitative content analysis
  12. 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
  13. 13. 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
  14. 14. Retention✦ ICT solution ✦ Mind-blowing data visualizations
  15. 15. Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)
  16. 16. Retention✦ ICT solution ✦ Mind-blowing data visualizations✦ Alternate solutions ✦ Optimize participation processes ✦ Expand participation options* ✦ New communication strategies* *bonus research opportunities!
  17. 17. Data QualityXDogbird Catbird
  18. 18. 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
  19. 19. 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
  20. 20. 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
  21. 21. 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
  22. 22. Questions?✦ Research made possible by... ✦ U.S. NSF ✦ eBird VOSS-0943049, ✦ The Great Sunf SOCS-0968470, & OCI-0830944 ✦ Awesome CSCW ✦ reviewers ✦ Mydissertation committee

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