Crowd Science: The Organization of Scientific Research in Open Collaborative Projects
20 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2012 Last revised: 29 Oct 2015
Date Written: August 14, 2013
A growing amount of scientific research is done in an open collaborative fashion, in projects that are sometimes labeled as “crowd science”, “citizen science”, or “networked science”. This paper seeks to gain a more systematic understanding of crowd science and to provide scholars with a conceptual framework and an agenda for future research. First, we briefly present three case examples that span different fields of science and illustrate the heterogeneity concerning what crowd science projects do and how they are organized. Second, we identify two fundamental elements that characterize crowd science projects - open participation and open sharing of intermediate inputs - and distinguish crowd science from other knowledge production regimes such as innovation contests or traditional “Mertonian” science. Third, we explore potential knowledge-related and motivational benefits that crowd science offers over alternative organizational modes, and potential challenges it is likely to face. Drawing on prior research on the organization of problem solving, we also consider for what kinds of tasks particular benefits or challenges are likely to be most pronounced. We conclude by outlining an agenda for future research and by discussing implications for funding agencies and policy makers.
Keywords: crowd science, citizen science, crowdsourcing, community-based production, problem solving, open innovation, funding
JEL Classification: O31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation