Citizen science

16/12/2019

Who speaks for “citizen science” on Twitter? Which territory of citizen science have they made visible so far? This paper offers the first description of the community of users who dedicate their online social media identity to citizen science. It shows that Twitter users who identify with the term “citizen science” are mostly U.S. science professionals in environmental sciences, and rarely projects' participants. In contrast to the original concept of “citizen science”, defined as a direct relationship between scientists and lay participants, this paper makes visible a third category of individual actors, mostly women, who connect these lay participants and scientists: the “citizen science broker”.

12/11/2019

Storytelling essentials are stories that direct attention, trigger emotions, and prompt understanding. Citizen science has recently promoted the narrative approach of storytelling as a means of engagement of people of all ages and backgrounds in scientific research processes. We seek understanding about the typology of storytelling in citizen science projects and explore to what extent the tool of storytelling can be conceptualized in the approach of citizen science. In a first step, we investigated the use and integration of storytelling in citizen science projects in the three European German-speaking countries. We conducted a low threshold content analysis of 209 projects listed on the German-speaking online platforms for citizen science projects “Bürger schaffen Wissen”, “Österreich forscht”, and “Schweiz forscht”. Two expert workshops with citizen science practitioners were held to validate and discuss the identified role of stories in the practice of citizen science. Our analysis revealed three major categories mirroring how stories are being integrated and applied in citizen science. The first category refers to projects, in which stories are the core research objective. The second category is characterized by the application of stories in different phases of the research project. The third category encompasses stories as agents being part of the communication and organization of the project. We illustrate the practical application of these categories by three representative case studies. By combining the functionality of the categories and abstracting the linkages between storytelling and citizen science, we derived a generalized model accounting for those linkages. In conclusion, we suggest that storytelling should be a prerequisite to enhance the competencies of the actors involved and to exchange knowledge at the interfaces of science and policy as well as science and society.

17/01/2019

The growing interest in citizen science has resulted in a new range of digital tools that facilitate the interaction and communications between citizens and scientists. Considering the ever increasing number of applications that currently exist, it is surprising how little we know about how volunteers interact with these technologies, what they expect from them, and why these technologies succeed or fail. Aiming to address this gap, JCOM organized this special issue on the role of User Experience (UX) of digital technologies in citizen science which is the first to focus on the qualities and impacts of interface and user design within citizen science. Seven papers are included that highlight three key aspects of user-focused research and methodological approaches. In the first category, "design standards", the authors explore the applicability of existing standards, build and evaluate a set of guidelines to improve interactions with citizen science applications. In the second, "design methods", methodological approaches for getting user feedback, analysing user behaviour and exploring different interface designs modes are explored. Finally, "user experience in the physical and digital world" explores crossovers with other fields to improve our understanding of user experiences and demonstrate how design choices not only influence digital interactions but also shape interactions with the wider world.

17/01/2019

We discuss the potential application to virtual citizen science of a recent standard (BS ISO 27500:2016 “The human-centred organisation”) which encourages the adoption of a sociotechnical systems perspective across a wide range of businesses, organizations and ventures. Key tenets of the standard concern taking a total systems approach, capitalizing on individual differences as a strength, making usability and accessibility strategic objectives, valuing personnel and paying attention to ethical and values-led elements of the project in terms of being open and trustworthy, social responsibility and health and wellbeing. Drawing upon our experience of projects in our laboratory and the wider literature, we outline the principles identified in the standard and offer citizen science themed interpretations and examples of possible responses.

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.

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