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Online Communities in Citizen Science

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

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Online Communities in
    Citizen Science
           Andrea Wiggins
              Postdoctoral Fellow
University of New Mexico & Cornell University

           8 November, 2012
What is citizen science?
Members of the public engaging in real-world
scientific research
 Crowdsourcing
 Collaboration
 Community
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
What is citizen science?
                                intelligent
                               mobile sensor
                                 net work


                        ?
crowdsourcing science

    human
computation      Public Participation
                in Scientific Research
Typ(ologi)es of citizen science


Goals and place
Participation in scientific tasks
Contribution types
Participant experiences
and more...
Participation in scientific tasks
PPSR$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

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Online Communities in Citizen Science

  • 1. Online Communities in Citizen Science Andrea Wiggins Postdoctoral Fellow University of New Mexico & Cornell University 8 November, 2012
  • 2. What is citizen science? Members of the public engaging in real-world scientific 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 human computation Public Participation in Scientific Research
  • 5. Typ(ologi)es of citizen science Goals and place Participation in scientific tasks Contribution types Participant experiences and more...
  • 6. Participation in scientific tasks PPSR$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 ✓ Stewardship Investigation 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 experience Sharing my data/experiences • Fits into daily life • People like to share their passions Working on their/our tasks • Novel tasks • Can reinforce hierarchy Playing 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 them Started 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 online Launched in 2002 by Cornell Lab of Ornithology (with National Audubon Society) World’s largest biodiversity data set: 100M records Currently receives about 3M observations/month Data used in research and decision-making for land management, policy (and recreation)
  • 14. Crowds vs Communities Is 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 Zoo Motivations: similar to other participant surveys Forums: evidence of shared interests & practices Alice Reader to Leader... ...to Scientist! http://blog.galaxyzoo.org/2009/07/01/shes-an-astronomer-alice-sheppard/
  • 16. More than just motivation Motivations Intrinsic (altruism) Extrinsic (money) Dynamic Personal Values (domain, science) Individual Goals (contributing) http://www.flickr.com/photos/verbeeldingskr8/4875710270/
  • 17. Implications for Design Who will participate? Why will they participate? How will they be rewarded? How can experiences be expanded? http://www.flickr.com/photos/andymangold/4335799638/
  • 18. Which Came First? Science-first project design Tech focuses on data entry Experiences are usually simplified science Citizen-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” website CMS Custom platform Mobile Games CitizenSort 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 Communities We don’t know much! Primary social & communication tool in virtual (place- independent) projects But what about... Place-dependent projects Pre-existing communities Scale of participation Cohesive systems vs system assemblages
  • 22. What makes it a community? How did you judge whether a citizen science project you reviewed has an online community 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 Science Primary recruitment method (in place-based) Not feasible for entirely virtual projects Important for retention Come for the coffee, stay for the conversation Main community engagement strategies Traditional: tapping into existing communities Virtual: creating a new community
  • 24. Unrealized potential value Retention tool Recruitment tool Capture serendipity Promote inquiry Gather evaluation data More...
  • 25. Challenges Strategic implementation required with existing communities $$$ Active management Technical resources Zooniverse research underway to learn more Yay, Sloan Foundation!
  • 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