Getting volunteers to engage with your citizen science project: the Season Spotter experience


Interested in citizen science? Don't miss this new article just published on JCOM: Volunteer recruitment and retention in online citizen science projects using marketing strategies: lessons from Season Spotter, by Alycia Crall, Margaret Kosmala, Rebecca Cheng, Jonathan Brier, Darlene Cavalier, Sandra Henderson and Andrew Richardson.

The research focuses on the pros and cons of using a marketing campaign to increase awareness of an online citizen science project, possibly fostering better engagement and retention of volunteers. According to the authors, "the campaign was successful due to increased engagement, but it did not increase the time participants spent classifying images".

In the discussion of the outcomes of their analysis, Crall et al. provide some useful suggestions on how to ameliorate and better retain volunteers' participation. Considering the rapid growth of citizen science projects, therefore higher competition in recruitment of participants, the authors underline the importance of investing in outreach efforts and social media presence, providing constant feedback and underlying the importance of the volunteers' contributions. The authors also suggest making "partnerships with organizations that share common goals to support their outreach efforts", as well as referring to established marketing strategies when designing an outreach campaign for the project.

Researchers all over the world are analyzing motivations which lead citizens to get involved in citizen science project. Three articles published on JCOM in 2016 have tackled this topic: Understanding volunteer motivations to participate in citizen science projects: a deeper look at water quality monitoring by Bethany Alender, Understanding drivers, barriers and information sources for public participation in marine citizen science, by Vicki Martin et al. and Motivation and learning impact of Dutch flu-trackers, by Anne M. Land-Zandstra et al.

JCOM has recently published two special issues on citizen science, providing research articles on the impact of citizen science activities on science, science communication and public participation in science policy making. They are available online at (Part I) and (Part 2), entirely open access.