VOLCROWE is a research project funded by the EPSRC in collaboration with the NEMODE network and involving collaboration between the University of Portsmouth, University of Oxford, University of Manchester and University of Leeds.

Release of VOLCROWE Project Outcome Videos

Following the conclusion of funding for the VOLCROWE project in September, the team have produced a series of short videos in collaboration with Beakus to communicating our main research outcomes along three key themes.

The first video relates to motivations to volunteer for Zooniverse projects and the importance of learning.

The second relates to gaming as a motivator, with particular emphasis on ‘gamisation’.

The final video relates to leveraging the power of the crowd by investigating the structure and operations of the Zooniverse organisation.

On behalf of the whole team, we hope you enjoy these videos and will interested to look at some of the published research and other outputs on these themes from the VOLCROWE project.

VOLCROWE Survey Data Analysis Tool Released

In 2015, the VOLCROWE project team ran a large-scale survey with a representative sample of Zooniverse users.  The survey dataset was then reconciled against a database of user activity on the Zooniverse platform so that the research team could explore the relationships between participation and a number of explanatory factors that might plausibly explain variation in volunteering.

Now that the VOLCROWE project has come to a conclusion, the team are making a completely anonymised version of the dataset publicly available via a bespoke online tool that can visualise, extract and download customised combinations of variables from the dataset.  The tool can be accessed via the main menu on the VOLCROWE website or by clicking the following link:


The dataset is incredibly rich and detailed, containing a wide variety of variables measured at the individual-level relating to Zooniverse participation; including number of classifications, number of Talk posts, length of time between first and last recorded classifications etc.  Alongside this, the survey dataset provides detailed information on motivations to volunteer, measures of social capital, performance in science quizzes, socio-demographics such as age, gender, income, education, religion and much, much more.

Please feel free to investigate and use the data as much as you like, but please do make sure to credit the VOLCROWE project as the original source.  If you intend to use the dataset as the basis for academic research of your own, please let the Principal Investigator know directly (Dr Joe Cox, University of Portsmouth) so that this can be recorded.

Many thanks and we hope that the dataset is able to offer you valuable insights into volunteering for Zooniverse projects.

VOLCROWE Team Member Presents at BAM2016

VOLCROWE team member Roy Meriton has presented work from the project at BAM2016 – the prestigious annual meeting of the British Academy of Management, hosted by Newcastle University between 6th – 8th September 2016.

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Roy presented a paper titled ‘The Evolution of Organizational Capabilities in the Zooniverse’ on behalf of the project team.  A copy of the slides accompanying his presentation can be downloaded here.

VOLCROWE Runs Professional Development Workshop at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting

Members of the VOLCROWE research project have successfully organised and delivered a Professional Development Workshop at the recent Academy of Management Annual Meeting, running between August 5th-9th in Anaheim, California.  The workshop, entitled ‘Organising Work Online with Crowds’, aimed to establish the key differences and similarities between the management of crowdsourcing in commercial and non-profit sectors, as well as the aspects of successful models that could usefully be employed in other contexts.

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The Professional Development Workshop was listed among the Academy Programme Highlights as an event of particular interest to the Organizational Communication and Information Systems (OCIS) interest group. The workshop was attended by over fifty delegates, with very positive feedback was given by those in attendance.  For example, in response to being asked whether the session had enhanced their awareness and understanding of the topic, the workshop was given a score of 4.13/5.  In response to a question relating to whether the session had affected their behaviour or thinking, respondents awarded the workshop a score of 3.56/5.  When asked whether they would pass information from the session on to others, respondents awarded a score of 4.13/5.  Specific written feedback included ‘Deeper insights into open innovation communities, didn’t know about citizen science before‘, ‘Enjoyed the interaction‘ and ‘Connections: met some very interesting people‘.

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A separate page has been created on the VOLCROWE website containing materials from the session, which can be accessed here.  In addition to members of the VOLCROWE team, thanks are expressed in particular to Samer Faraj (McGill University); Pete Forsyth (Wikistrategies); Emmanouil Gkeredakis (University of Warwick); Natalia Levina (New York University); Ann Majchrzak, (University of Southern California) and Ching Ren (University of Minnesota) for their part in organising and running the event.

VOLCROWE Team Present at the 2016 International Conference on Social Media & Society

VOLCROWE co-investigator Dr Anita Greenhill, along with Dr Jamie Woodcock, recently presented the findings of a research paper entitled ‘Disentangling value in a co-creating organisation: exploring the tensions between paid professionals and users, scientists and citizen scientists’ at the 2016 International Conference on Social Media & Society in London.


The conference aims to bring together researchers to identify best practices for studying the implications of social media on society, involving researchers from a range of disciplines including management, information science, education and sociology.  A copy of the presentation slides from the event can be downloaded here.

VOLCROWE Presents Findings at the 2016 ISTR Research Conference

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.

VOLCROWE Research Presented at CAP Conference

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.

New VOLCROWE Publication: Science learning via participation in online citizen science

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.

New VOLCROWE Publication: Playing with Science

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.

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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.

VOLCROWE PI Hosts Research Seminar at the London School of Economics

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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.