VOLCROWE Researcher Dr EY Oh recently presented the findings from our working paper ‘Doing good online: An investigation into the characteristics and motivations of digital volunteers’ at the 12th International Conference of the International Society for Third-Sector Research in Stockholm, Sweden. The conference ran between June 28th and July 1st 2016.
A copy of the paper can be downloaded from here, while a copy of Dr Oh’s presentation can be downloaded here.
On May 16th, the recently published VOLCROWE research on science learning via participation in online citizen science projects was presented to the Communicating Astronomy to the Public 2016 conference in Columbia, organised by the International Astronomical Union.
The talk, originally scheduled to be delivered by VOLCROWE CI Karen Masters, was given by Dr Jen Gupta, a colleague from the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth. The team would like to extend our thanks to Dr Gupta for stepping in to replace Dr Masters. A copy of the presentation is available for download here. Photo courtesy of #CAP2016.
The VOLCROWE team has recently published new research in a special issue of the Journal of Science Communication. The research is based on the results of a survey carried out with a representative sample of Zooniverse volunteers and aims to establish the extent to which participation in Zooniverse projects results in science learning.
We test knowledge of science through a novel online quiz completed by survey participants and analyse variations in performance according to actual, observed measures of participation in Zooniverse projects, as well as controlling for a range of other factors that correlate with science knowledge. The results of the study show that performance in science quizzes relating to specific areas of science, such as astronomy and ecology, does improve among more actively engaged users, even after controlling for other factors including general science knowledge. This leads us to conclude that learning does occur as a result of participation in Zooniverse projects.
A link to the special issue of the Journal of Science Communication can be found here, while a copy of the paper can be downloaded directly from the VOLCROWE website here.
The VOLCROWE team have just had a research article accepted for publication in the Aslib Journal of Information Management. The article, entitled ‘Playing with science: Exploring how game activity motivates users participation on an online citizen science platform’, investigates the motivational effects of factors such as play, socialisation, fun and amusement in the context of the citizen science platform known as the Zooniverse.
The paper develops a conceptual model that explains how play can motivate users to contribute to citizen science projects, with practical implications for other crowdsourcing and citizen science platforms in terms of engaging with play and gamification to motivate participation. The paper concludes that contributing to citizen science projects can both serve a useful purpose and be enjoyable for those concerned.
A copy of this paper authored by Greenhill et al. is available for download here.
In February 2016, the VOLCROWE PI, Dr Joe Cox, led a research seminar at the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science, where he presented the findings from the team’s ‘Doing good online‘ paper to an audience of faculty staff and students.
A copy of the presentation can be downloaded here.
Project co-investigator Dr Karen Masters has presented the findings of VOLCROWE research into the science learning and the success determinants of online citizen science projects at the International Astronomical Union General Assembly in Hawaii.
The IAU General Assembly is a highly prestigious meeting of leading minds in astronomical research from around the world. Dr Masters’ participation in the event during August 2015 has played a key role in communicating the findings of the VOLCROWE project to a wider audience with an interest in science education and communication. A full copy of the presentation from the conference can be donwloaded here. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Bernagozzi).
A working version of a study by the VOLCROWE team into the motivations of Zooniverse users is now available online via SSRN.
The study investigates motivations to volunteer for Zooniverse projects and the relationship between these motivations and levels of participation. The study uses survey data from a representative sample of Zooniverse users across five projects (Galaxy Zoo, Planet Hunters, Snapshot Serengeti, Seafloor Explorer and Penguin Watch) and measures motivations using the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI). These measures are subsequently used to model individual-level variations in contributions to these projects.
The study finds evidence that the ‘undertanding’ motivation (i.e. learning) is the most significant determinant of variations in contribution levels – in other words, those who want to learn more tend to contribute more classifications over longer periods.
As well as acessing the study via SSRN, you can also download a copy of the paper directly from the VOLCROWE website here.
On 13th November 2015, the VOLCROWE team ran a public event at the Manchester Museum themed around citizen science and crowdsourcing. The event formed part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science week and aimed to introduce people to the concept of citizen science, with hands-on trials of several Zooniverse projects. The event also prompted visitors to think about why people would want to contribute to these projects and what they would gain as a result of their participation. These discussions were informed by the findings of the VOLCROWE project to-date and invited participants to consider the social-science dimensions of citizen science and crowdsourcing.
The event was a resounding success and engaged with a total of 190 members of the public throughout the day. Of those who provided feedback, 100% agreed with the statements ‘I am more aware of the social science and the benefits to society’ and ‘I will pass the information from the event to others’. Additionally, 95% of attendees agreed with the statement ‘I have a better understanding of the topic of the event’, while 92% agreed ‘I will find out more about the topic of the event’. On a scale of 1-4, our attendees also awarded an average rating of 3.82 in terms of the educational value of the event. This is particularly interesting given the importance we have found for understanding (i.e. learning) as a key motivation for participation in citizen science.
More details on the ESRC Festival of Social Science can be found here.
The VOLCROWE project recently featured as part of Crowdsourcing Week event. The event was established in 2012 and has resulted in a series of global conferences and summits which bring together thought leaders from around the world to engage and discuss how crowdsourcing can lead to meaningful change.
As part of VOLCROWE’s involvement in the event, we contributed a Crowdsourcing Week blog explaining the objectives of the project and our findings to date. We also produced an infographic sheet summarising our main findings in a visually engaging way. Our research on this project is increasingly pointing to Zooniverse and Citizen Science Volunteering as being driven by knowledge creation. We show that the opportunity to enhance knowledge and understanding is a primary motivation of Zooniverse volunteers and one which associates the most strongly and positively with classification activity and sustained engagement.
You can read the Crowdsourcing Week blog here and download a copy of the summary infographic here.
An article authored by the VOLCROWE team has recently been accepted for publication in an upcoming special issue on citizen science in the journal ‘Computing in Science and Engineering‘.
The paper is entitled ‘How is success defined and measured in citizen science? A case study of Zooniverse projects’. The paper develops a set of novel measures of successful project outomes in citizen science under the headings of ‘contribution to science’ and ‘public engagement’. We then apply these measures to a number of Zooniverse projects to assess the extent to which the various projects have been successful in meeting these objectives. The paper concludes with refelections as to the reasons why certain projects have been more successful than others, as well as presenting a set of managerial implications and recommendations for the Zooniverse and practitioners of citizen science more generally.
A link to the post-print version of the paper can be found here.