Zum Inhalt springen
james-wainscoat-b7MZ6iGIoSI-unsplash

Crowd Science

07 Dezember 2016

Online Plattformen eröffnen ein neues Spektrum an Möglichkeiten für die Beteiligung von Freiwilligen am Prozess der Wissensgenerierung. Wie werden Crowd Science Projekte ins Leben gerufen und wie funktionieren sie? Ein Einblick.

Setting up

Crowd science is scientific research that is conducted with the participation of volunteers who are not professional scientists. Crowd science can be seen as a method of scientific discovery, as a way of volunteer engagement in knowledge creation, or as a form of science communication. While the involvement of volunteers in scientific discovery is nothing new, the potentially large number of volunteers that can be involved to support data-rich or labour-intensive projects differs from forms of volunteer engagement that pre-date the internet and online platforms. In our open science team we wanted to gain a better understanding of how crowd science projects are set up. What are the objectives behind crowd science projects and what ways are there of accessing the crowd? What tasks do volunteers perform? Are there any quality assurance and feedback mechanisms? We focused our analysis on crowd science in Germany and conducted in-depth case studies with twelve crowd science projects. As part of our case studies we interviewed project managers or other involved individuals about their experiences of setting up and maintaining crowd science projects. Here is a short summary of the findings.

Objectives

There are crowd science projects where the predominant objective is the generation of knowledge. These projects are typically set up by scientists who either use crowd science as a means of answering a research question or pursue a data-driven approach to a research topic.  For other crowd science projects the general interest in a topic is the key concern. These projects are typically set up by individuals with a passion for a topic and an ability to motivate others to engage with the topic.

Access

There are different ways of accessing the crowd. The crowd building strategy is concerned with recruiting volunteers around a specific topic; this strategy is used by most crowd science projects. The crowd harnessing strategy relies on tapping into an already existing community; this strategy requires alignment of the projects’ objectives with the interests of the community. Another approach is to employ a large crowd of volunteers to try to reach a goal by trial and error; this effect-based approach is rare, but it carries the potential of breaking the typical pattern of a few dedicated individuals producing a substantial amount of the work while others contribute relatively little. Instead, it is conceivable that a crowd of one-time volunteers produces results of comparable quality to the output generated by power-volunteers.

Tasks

Typical tasks involved in crowd science projects are annotating, collecting, and producing. Annotating refers to adding a form of metadata to existing data (for example tagging images). Collecting means gathering data of some sort (for example catching a mosquito). Producing involves creating new content (for example writing a text). Moreover, tasks performed by volunteers vary in their degree of complexity. In general, tasks that involve some form of annotating or collecting tend to be of simple or medium complexity, while tasks that involve some form of producing can rather be classified as hard. Breaking down tasks into manageable units is an essential part of crowd science and the basis for scaling it up.

Quality 

Assuring the quality of data generated by the crowd is a challenge. Projects that involve simple tasks can to some extent use automated quality assurance mechanisms (for instance ‘double-keying’ whereby data need to be entered at least twice in the same form in order to be validated). Projects that deal with data generated from performing more complex tasks still rely on humans to ensure data quality, though this might change in the future thanks to advances in machine learning techniques.

Feedback

Providing volunteers with feedback is an important tool for motivating and keeping them engaged. While crowd science projects that employ gamification approaches have inherent feedback mechanisms, other projects face the challenge of having to find forms of communicating with volunteers that are adequate to the value of their contributions.

Way to go

Crowd science opens up pathways for pursuing unconventional research ideas, blurs the boundaries between institutional science and civil society, provides opportunities for volunteer engagement in science, and enriches science communication. Crowd science also raises questions concerning data-driven approaches to scientific discovery as well as the development of mechanisms for automated quality assurance and feedback. While applying approaches such as gamification in crowd science projects seem promising, more strategies and best practice examples of how to make the best use of the potential of the crowd are needed.

Dieser Blogbeitrag basiert auf folgender Publikation:
Scheliga K, Friesike S, Puschmann C and Fecher B (2016) Setting up crowd science projects. Public Understanding of Science. DOI: 10.1177/0963662516678514

 

Dieser Beitrag spiegelt die Meinung der Autorinnen und Autoren und weder notwendigerweise noch ausschließlich die Meinung des Institutes wider. Für mehr Informationen zu den Inhalten dieser Beiträge und den assoziierten Forschungsprojekten kontaktieren Sie bitte info@hiig.de

Kaja Scheliga

Ehem. Assoziierte Forscherin: Lernen, Wissen, Innovation

HIIG Monthly Digest

Jetzt anmelden und  die neuesten Blogartikel gesammelt per Newsletter erhalten.

Man sieht in Leuchtschrift das Wort "Ethical"

Digitale Ethik

Ob Zivilgesellschaft, Politik oder Wissenschaft – alle scheinen sich einig, dass die Neuen Zwanziger im Zeichen der Digitalisierung stehen werden. Doch wo stehen wir aktuell beim Thema digitale Ethik? Wie schaffen wir eine digitale Transformation unter Einbindung der Gesamtgesellschaft, also auch der Menschen, die entweder nicht die finanziellen Mittel oder aber auch das nötige Know-How besitzen, um von der Digitalisierung zu profitieren?  Und was bedeuten diese umfassenden Änderungen unseres Agierens für die Demokratie? In diesem Dossier wollen wir diese Fragen behandeln und Denkanstöße bieten.

Discover all 12 articles

Weitere Artikel

Presseräte

Plattformräte: Können sie digitale Plattformen zur Verantwortung drängen?

Können Handlungen digitaler Plattformen gegenüber ihren Nutzer*innen durch Plattformräte rechenschaftspflichtig gemacht werden?

Accepting cookies

Datenschutz ja, aber mit Cookies? Was steckt hinter dem “Privacy Paradox”?

Warum stimmen wir Datenschutzvereinbarungen wie Cookies auf einer Website viel schneller zu und beachten sie online weniger als offline? Über das Privacy-Paradox-Phänomen

Algorithmische Inhaltemoderation – Was kann bleiben, was muss weg?

Automatisiertes Löschen in den sozialen Netzwerken gefährdet die Meinungsfreiheit. Wie könnten Regeln für die Moderation von Online-Inhalten aussehen? Autorin A. Borchardt beleuchtet einige Vorschläge.