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.

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From Conservation to Crowdsourcing: A Typology of Citizen Science

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