18-20 March 2015
Cologne University of Applied Sciences, Germany
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B 2: Citizen Science
Get Them Involved: Motivational Strategies of Citizen Science Platforms
1HIIG, Germany; 2DIW, Germany; 3Zeppelin Universität, Germany; 4Universität Würzburg, Germany
Relevance & Research Question:
Citizen science describes research activities (e.g., data collection) that are conducted by people who are not professional scientists. Thanks to the internet, citizen science has gained a new dimension: digital technologies offer possibilities to reach out to volunteer researchers, to pool together efforts and to make the results visible. Moreover, the collective power of the crowd provides scientists with data that they could not have collected on their own. Integrating citizens into research projects is apparently a valuable strategy for scientists. Motivating volunteers to invest time in citizen science projects appears challenging.
● What are common strategies to motivate volunteers to partake in citizen science activities?
● What do volunteers get out of it?
● What does it take to build up and maintain a citizen science community?
● How can the quality of citizen scientists’ contributions be ensured?
Methods & Data:
The insights are based on 12 case studies of German citizen science platforms. We have studied the selected platforms, reviewed related materials and conducted qualitative interviews. The interviews were transcribed and thematically coded.
Based on our case studies, we found that motivational strategies revolve around: the task, learning, results, and/or community.
Some projects tap into an existing community and provide it with an infrastructure so as to channel the community’s efforts towards the project. Other projects need to build up a community around their project. We have found that important motivational factors are providing feedback, facilitating a learning experience and turning a task into a game. Moreover, while citizen science also has its long tail of participation, substantial contributions come from a few dedicated citizen science enthusiasts who provide the best quality contributions. We argue that in developing successful motivational strategies for citizen science projects these “heavy contributors” deserve a special role.
There is still little research on citizen science. This research project aims to contribute to a better understanding of the field by providing an overview of citizen science in Germany and discussing different motivational strategies.
Creating deliberation online: Developing a Citizen Science Strategy 2020 for Germany
Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Germany
Relevance and research question
Citizen science is an increasingly popular approach to science, one that brings professional scientists together with volunteer scientists, scientific clubs, or interested laypeople. Citizen science has recently gained the attention of science policymakers, increasing the importance of developing a strategy to promote and support citizen science projects. Following the approach used by Socientize at the European level, the GEWISS (BürGEr schaffen WISSen, or “Citizens create knowledge”) project seeks to conduct an online consultation process to create a 2020 strategy for citizen science in Germany. This paper will present the deliberative approach used by both projects, report on initial results, and discuss the possibilities and challenges of using online deliberation methods for strategy development.
Methods and data
Over 200 comments were collected during the online consultation conducted by Socientize in 2014, in addition to offline input through stakeholder roundtables, participatory workshops, and telephone interviews. GEWISS seeks to collect at least this many comments through a two-stage online consultation, which will run in parallel to a series of dialogue events conducted throughout 2015. The GEWISS consultation for its Citizen Science Strategy 2020 for Germany will be based on a draft strategy document developed during a think tank event in Berlin in July 2014.
The Socientize consultation sought to engage diverse stakeholder groups to submit policy recommendations for a European citizen science strategy. Its consultation process received input from several sources, including an online consultation process. However, organizations found that not all participants were versed in policy language or able to contribute through the online tool. Future endeavors may thus require training for participants, additional analysis by organizers, and various input mechanisms.
This paper uses empirical data to assess the real-life challenges related to online consultation. In this way, it adds to our understanding of the real possibilities of online methods of consulting key stakeholders, as well as current challenges, in order that work begin to address them and increase the efficacy of online deliberation tools.
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