Crowd Science: The Organization of Scientific Research in Open Collaborative Projects

20 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2012 Last revised: 29 Oct 2015

Chiara Franzoni

Politecnico di Milano - DIG

Henry Sauermann

Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: August 14, 2013

Abstract

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

Franzoni, Chiara and Sauermann, Henry, Crowd Science: The Organization of Scientific Research in Open Collaborative Projects (August 14, 2013). Research Policy, 2014, Volume 43, Issue 1, Pages 1-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2167538 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2167538

Chiara Franzoni

Politecnico di Milano - DIG ( email )

Piazza Leonardo da Vinci
Milan, Milano 20100
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://www.dig.polimi.it/index.php?id=348&tx_wfqbe_pi1[id]=438

Henry Sauermann (Contact Author)

Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business ( email )

800 West Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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