Article

17/01/2019

Although hundreds of citizen science applications exist, there is lack of detailed analysis of volunteers' needs and requirements, common usability mistakes and the kinds of user experiences that citizen science applications generate. Due to the limited number of studies that reflect on these issues, it is not always possible to develop interactions that are beneficial and enjoyable. In this paper we perform a systematic literature review to identify relevant articles which discuss user issues in environmental digital citizen science and we develop a set of design guidelines, which we evaluate using cooperative evaluation. The proposed research can assist scientists and practitioners with the design and development of easy to use citizen science applications and sets the basis to inform future Human-Computer Interaction research in the context of citizen science.

17/01/2019

In citizen science, user-centred development is often emphasised for its potential to involve participants in the development of technology. We describe the development process of the mobile app “Naturblick” as an example of a user-centred design in citizen science and discuss digital user feedback with regard to the users' involvement. We have identified three types of digital user feedback using qualitative content analysis: general user feedback, contributory user feedback and co-creational user feedback. The results indicate that digital user feedback can link UCD techniques with more participatory design approaches.

17/01/2019

Effective classification of large datasets is a ubiquitous challenge across multiple knowledge domains. One solution gaining in popularity is to perform distributed data analysis via online citizen science platforms, such as the Zooniverse. The resulting growth in project numbers is increasing the need to improve understanding of the volunteer experience; as the sustainability of citizen science is dependent on our ability to design for engagement and usability. Here, we examine volunteer interaction with 63 projects, representing the most comprehensive collection of online citizen science project data gathered to date. Together, this analysis demonstrates how subtle project design changes can influence many facets of volunteer interaction, including when and how much volunteers interact, and, importantly, who participates. Our findings highlight the tension between designing for social good and broad community engagement, versus optimizing for scientific and analytical efficiency.

17/01/2019

We developed a multi-touch interface for the citizen science video game Foldit, in which players manipulate 3D protein structures, and compared multi-touch and mouse interfaces in a 41-subject user study. We found that participants performed similarly in both interfaces and did not have an overall preference for either interface. However, results indicate that for tasks involving guided movement to dock protein parts, subjects using the multi-touch interface completed tasks more accurately with fewer moves, and reported higher attention and spatial presence. For tasks involving direct selection and dragging of points, subjects using the mouse interface performed fewer camera adjustments.

17/01/2019

Online citizen science platforms increasingly provide types of infrastructural support previously only available to organisationally-based professional scientists. Other practices, such as creative arts, also exploit the freedom and accessibility afforded by the World Wide Web to shift the professional-amateur relationship. This paper compares communities from these two areas to show that disparate practices can learn from each other to better understand their users and their technology needs. Three major areas are discussed: mutual acknowledgement, infrastructural support, and platform specialisation. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of differing practices, and lessons that can be learnt for online citizen science platforms.

17/01/2019

Identifying private gardens in the U.K. as key sites of environmental engagement, we look at how a longer-term online citizen science programme facilitated the development of new and personal attachments of nature. These were visible through new or renewed interest in wildlife-friendly gardening practices and attitudinal shifts in a large proportion of its participants. Qualitative and quantitative data, collected via interviews, focus groups, surveys and logging of user behaviours, revealed that cultivating a fascination with species identification was key to both ‘helping nature’ and wider learning, with the programme creating a space where scientific and non-scientific knowledge could co-exist and reinforce one another.

14/12/2018

This paper presents the first study ever conducted on the profile of visitors to the Museum of Human Evolution of Burgos (Spain), which exhibits the finds of the Atapuerca archaeo-paleontological sites. The research was guided by the principles of public communication of science and the methodology of the studies on museum visitors. The analysis reveals a positive perception; the Museum is associated with the sites and they are valued as cultural heritage. Complaints are very limited but useful to produce a set of recommendations to further improve the exhibition. In addition, the findings are placed in the context of similar research carried out at other museums in Spain.

16/10/2018

According to the Gateway Belief Model, scientists and science educators should stress the scientific consensus when engaging with the lay population across a wide variety of mediums, including debates. The purpose of this study, then, was to determine if engaging in such debates does more harm than good in terms of persuading individuals towards accepting the scientific consensus of controversial issues. Participants (N = 208) read a manipulated debate segment altered by the issue discussed as well as the position/title of the skeptic debater. Results indicate that it is possible to influence individuals exposed to these debate segments, but the effects are issue-contingent. Limitations and future research related to science education are discussed.

01/10/2018

Genetic Modification (GM) has been a topic of public debates during the 1990s and 2000s. In this paper we explore the relative importance of two hypothesized explanations for these controversies: (i) people's general attitude toward science and technology and (ii) their trust in governance, in GM actors, and in GM regulations, in explaining the Dutch public's Attitude toward GM applications, and in addition to that, the public's GM Information seeking behaviour. This will be conducted through the application of representative survey methodology. The results indicate that Attitudes toward GM applications are best predicted by both the attitude toward science and technology and three trust measures. GM information seeking is predicted by gender and educational level, as well as attitude toward science and technology, trust in organisations and trust in regulations (negative). Overall, psychological variables seem better predictors than demographics. Implications for future research on information seeking behaviour are discussed.

17/09/2018

This paper focusses on the sense making and use of science by environmental activists. It is based on the assumption that activists — without being scientists or professional science communicators — take up a central role in the environmental discourse concerning the translation of scientific findings and their public dissemination. It is thus asked how environmental activists evaluate the relevance of science for their work, which structures and processes they apply to make sense of science, and how they use science related information to make their voices heard. This paper presents data from a study on Canadian activists regarding their use of scientific information in the field of forest protection. The data, interpreted in the context of a situational analysis, helps to enhance understanding of environmental activists' information systems but also show the strategic use of scientific information by these alternative science communicators.

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