Scientists@Home and in the Backyard: Understanding the Motivations of Contributors to Digital Citizen Science
Posted: 29 Aug 2010 Last revised: 10 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2010
Citizen science offers a low-cost way to both strengthen the scientific infrastructure and engage members of the public in science. Digital citizen science is based on two pillars. The first is technological: developing computer systems to manage large amounts of distributed resources. The second pillar is motivational: attracting and retaining people who would be willing to contribute their computing resources, skills, time, and effort to a scientific cause. While the technological aspect was widely studied, the motivational dimension received little attention to date. We surveyed 4376 volunteers in three citizen science projects, of varying task granularity levels, and found that collective and intrinsic motives are the most salient motivational factors, whereas reward motives seem to be less relevant to citizen scientists. In addition, we found that most motivational factors are susceptible to differences in the contribution’s task granularity. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
Keywords: citizen science, motivations, crowdsourcing, volunteer computing, distributed computing, crowd computing
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