Citizen science


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.


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.


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.


Citizen science (CS) terms the active participation of the general public in scientific research activities. With increasing amounts of information generated by citizen scientists, best practices to go beyond science communication and publish these findings to the scientific community are needed. This letter is a synopsis of authors' personal experiences when publishing results from citizen science projects in peer-reviewed journals, as presented at the Austrian Citizen Science Conference 2018. Here, we address authors' selection criteria for publishing CS data in open-access, peer-reviewed scientific journals as well as barriers encountered during the publishing process. We also outline factors that influence the probability of publication using CS data, including 1) funding to cover publication costs; 2) quality, quantity and scientific novelty of CS data; 3) recommendations to acknowledge contributions of citizen scientists in scientific, peer-reviewed publications; 4) citizen scientists' preference of the hands-on experience over the product (publication) and 5) bias among scientists for certain data sources and the scientific jargon. These experiences show that addressing these barriers could greatly increase the rate of CS data included in scientific publications.


“Science crowdfunding” is a research funding system in which members of the public make small financial contributions towards a research project via the Internet. We compared the more common research process involving public research funding with science crowdfunding. In the former, academic-peer communities review the research carried out whereas the Crowd Community, an aggregation of backers, carries out this function in the latter. In this paper, we propose that science crowdfunding can be successfully used to generate “crowd-supported science” by means of this Crowd Community.


This study examines the relative efficacy of citizen science recruitment messages appealing to four motivations that were derived from previous research on motives for participation in citizen-science projects. We report on an experiment (N=36,513) that compared the response to email messages designed to appeal to these four motives for participation. We found that the messages appealing to the possibility of contributing to science and learning about science attracted more attention than did one about helping scientists but that one about helping scientists generated more initial contributions. Overall, the message about contributing to science resulted in the largest volume of contributions and joining a community, the lowest. The results should be informative to those managing citizen-science projects.


Science communicators develop qualitative and quantitative tools to evaluate the ‘impact’ of their work however narrative is rarely adopted as a form of evaluation. We posit narrative as an evaluative approach for research projects with a core science communication element and offer several narrative methods to be trialled. We use citizen science projects as an example of science communication research seeking to gain knowledge of participant-emergent themes via evaluations. Storied experience of participant involvement enhances understanding of context-based and often intangible processes, such as changing place-relations, values, and self-efficacy, by enabling a reflective space for critical-thinking and self-reflection.


CONFERENCE: Citizen Science Association Conference, Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A., 17–20th May 2017

The second biennial Citizen Science Association Conference was held from the 17–20th of May 2017 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The conference is the biggest of its kind in the world and brought together more than 1,000 delegates for hundreds of conference presentations as well as workshops, panels, screenings, a hackathon and a citizen science festival. In this paper we review the history of the conference and outline the key events leading up to the 2017 conference.


The future challenges within science communication lie in a 'grey area' where the frontiers between production and sharing of knowledge are blurred. An area in which we can satisfy at the same time and within the same activity the autonomous interests of researchers and those of other stakeholders, including lay publics. Settings are emerging, where we can provide real contribution to scientific research and at the same time facilitate the publics in their process of hacking scientific knowledge to serve autonomously defined and often unpredictable functions. Some are linked to research institutes, others to science centres, others are precisely inbetween. This editorial explores why these special places are needed, and present some case studies, leading to the need of interpreting science culture centres as research facilities.


Citizen science continues to grow, potentially increasing competition among projects to recruit and retain volunteers interested in participating. Using web analytics, we examined the ability of a marketing campaign to broaden project awareness, while driving engagement and retention in an online, crowdsourced project. The campaign challenged audiences to support the classification of >9,000 pairs of images. The campaign was successful due to increased engagement, but it did not increase the time participants spent classifying images. Engagement over multiple days was significantly shorter during the campaign. We provide lessons learned to improve targeted recruitment and retention of participants in online projects.


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