Setting up crowd science projects

In this reserach paper Kaja Scheliga, Sascha Friesike, Cornelius Puschmann and Benedikt Fecher deal with the setup of crowd science projects.
Crowd science is scientific research that is conducted with the participation of volunteers who are not professional scientists. Thanks to the Internet and online platforms, project initiators can draw on a potentially large number of volunteers. This crowd can be involved to support data-rich or labour-intensive projects that would otherwise be unfeasible. So far, research on crowd science has mainly focused on analysing individual crowd science projects. In our research, we focus on the perspective of project initiators and explore how crowd science projects are set up. Based on multiple case study research, we discuss the objectives of crowd science projects and the strategies of their initiators for accessing volunteers. We also categorise the tasks allocated to volunteers and reflect on the issue of quality assurance as well as feedback mechanisms. With this article, we contribute to a better understanding of how crowd science projects are set up and how volunteers can contribute to science. We suggest that our findings are of practical relevance for initiators of crowd science projects, for science communication as well as for informed science policy making.

Get Them Involved: Citizen Science @GOR Conference

Citizen science describes research activities (e.g., data collection) that are conducted by people who are not professional scientists. Thanks to the internet, citizen science has gained a new dimension: digital technologies offer possibilities to reach out to volunteer researchers, to pool together efforts and to make the results visible. Moreover, the collective power of the crowd provides scientists with data that they could not have collected on their own. Integrating citizens into research projects is apparently a valuable strategy for scientists. Motivating volunteers to invest time in citizen science projects appears challenging.

Most participants in “citizen science” projects give up almost immediately

John Timmer summarizes some challenges of citizen science
And while the citizen scientists could clearly save the working scientists some money, the authors suggest that this shouldn't really be the only goal. "Involving the crowd may enable researchers to pursue different kinds of research questions and approaches, rather than simply replacing one type of labor (e.g., graduate students) with another (volunteers)."

There is a scientist in all of us

Louis Liebenberg explains why technology enables everyone to be a scientist.
The implications for community participation in science and conservation are far-reaching. Imagine communities throughout the world gathering data, from remote villages in the Kalahari, the Congo, Australia and Mongolia, to school children in New York’s Central Park, London, Paris, Tokyo, New Delhi and Beijing. Citizens gathering data on birds, animals and plants. Millions of people all over the world sharing their data in the cloud, creating a worldwide network to monitor the global ecosystem in real time.

The Great Potential of Citizen Science

Citizen science is nothing new, but what makes internet-enabled citizen science different, is the sheer scale of amateur involvement. Benedikt Fecher sees great potential for citizen science, but argues a return to smaller-scale, high-involvement projects would be beneficial. This alternative model depends on citizen analysis, rather than just data collection. The core challenges for this kind of citizen science is to motivate and enable expert volunteers to make a long-term commitment to a scientific problem.

UK data centre marks 50 years of recording nature

The Biological Records Centre, which supports more than 80 wildlife recording societies and schemes, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Its data, submitted by volunteers, is used by scientists, such as monitoring the spread of invasive species. It has also helped researchers gain insight into ecological concerns, such as the demise of pollinating insects.

BBC News.

In the Internet era, research moves from professionals’ labs to amateurs’ homes

FOR THOUSANDS of ordinary people around the world, one of biology’s hardest problems is just a game. Both scientists and supercomputers have long struggled to predict the three-dimensional structures of the biological molecules called proteins. These structures are crucial to understanding proteins’ roles in fundamental cellular processes and disease, but predicting them is no easy task—which is why some researchers have turned to laypeople for help.

Harvard Magazine.

Citizen Science as a Novel Scientific Instrument

In the way that smart phones have permeated our culture, citizen science seems equally ubiquitous, appearing at science conferences, museums, conservation organizations, government agencies, journal articles, web sites and yes, in blogs. Citizen science covers a diverse collection of activities in which groups undertake investigations alongside or under the supervision of scientists.