The Science of Citizen Science

Theories, Methodologies, and Platforms

A CSCW 2017 Workshop

February 26, 2017
Portland, OR

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The Science of Citizen Science

The practice of citizen science offers a set of challenging questions to computer scientists. How can we ensure data quality from transient, anonymous volunteers whose expertise and interest are unknown and difficult to estimate? What is the nature of the interaction between citizen scientists and scientists in different types of citizen science projects, and how can we design technology to support these different kinds of interactions? How do we motivate citizens to participate? How can citizen science platforms be designed to adequately address the needs and concerns of scientists? What are different types of citizen science communities and what are the best way to approach and work with them? While there are many computational aspects to citizen science research (e.g., machine learning researchers devising new techniques for quality control), we are interested in defining citizen science research within the realm of human-computer interaction, i.e., CHI/CSCW style work.

Important Dates

  • Paper Submission - January 13, 2017 5:00PM EDT
  • Acceptance Notification - January 20, 2017
  • Workshop: February 26, 2017


The main goal of the workshop is to collaboratively write a paper to summarize the HCI / CSCW research questions in citizen science, and describe the theories, methodologies and platforms used to answer such questions. In addition, we will hold an interactive panel, inviting 3-4 researchers to discuss the similarity and differences in their research repertoire in terms of theories, methodologies and platforms.

Interested participants should send a position paper (1-page max) briefly describing (a) a particular HCI / CSCW research question in citizen science they have studied (b) the primary theories, methodologies, and platforms/projects used to answer that research question. Deadline is January 13, 2017.

Submissions should be sent direct to, where they will be curated by the workshop organizers. At least one author of each accepted position paper must attend the workshop.

Preliminary Schedule

Location: Doubletree Hotel, Room: Ross Island

Welcome & 1-Minute Introductions

Organizers discuss workshop background and goals; Round-table introduction for all participants.

Moderated Panel Discussion

Short presentations from invited panelists, followed by a lively moderated panel discussion.

Coffee Break

Breakout Session #1

Participants form groups for a particular topic (i.e., theories, methods, or platforms) and brainstorm and organize concepts and ideas around the topic.


Groups briefly summarize the results of the brainstorming process.


Breakout Session #2

Groups compile related works and literature references to the shared documents.

Breakout Session #3

Groups develop an initial first draft of the content from Sessions #1 and #2.

Coffee Break

Breakout Session #3: Continued

Groups develop an initial first draft of the content from Sessions #1 and #2.


Groups briefly present the outcome of Session #3. Organizers facilitate a focused discussion on plans for publications and potential collaboration with Citizen Science Association partners.

CSCW Conference Welcome Reception

6:30PM (Optional)
Group Dinner

Details and Location TBA.


Edith Law
Edith Law is an assistant professor at the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science at University of Waterloo and co-director of the Human Computer Interaction Lab. Her research focuses on studying incentive mechanisms in crowdsourcing systems and developing new ways to combine humans and machines to address problems in science and medicine. Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 2012 with Ph.D. in Machine Learning, M.Sc. in Computer Science at McGill University, and B.Sc. in Computer Science at University of British Columbia. She co-authored the book ``Human Computation" in the Morgan & Claypool Synthesis Lectures on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, co-organized the Human Computation Workshop (HCOMP) Series at KDD and AAAI from 2009 to 2012, and helped create the first AAAI Conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing. She founded CrowdCurio, a research infrastructure for studying technology-mediated crowdsourcing in citizen science and digital humanities.
Jennifer Shirk
Jennifer Shirk works to advance the field of public participation in scientific research through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Public Engagement in Science Program and the Citizen Science Association (CSA). In her position as Director of Field Development for CSA, she aims to broaden and enrich a community of practice for all who lead, manage, implement, and research citizen science projects. Through CSA and the Lab of Ornithology, she provides workshops, resources, and networking opportunities to facilitate effective citizen science project design, implementation, and sustainability. Jennifer has helped coordinate major networking events for citizen science practitioners, including field-wide conferences in 2015 and 2012, the 2011 Workshop on Engaging and Learning for Conservation, and the 2007 Citizen Science Toolkit Conference. Before Cornell, Jennifer worked in both scientific and educational capacities for the Smithsonian's Conservation Biology Institute, USGS and Shenandoah National Park, Catalina Island Marine Institute, and Penn State University. Jennifer has a BA in Conservation Biology from Bard College, and an MS and PhD in Natural Resources from Cornell University.

Jennifer Preece
Jennifer Preece is a Professor and Dean at the University of Maryland's iSchool She has researched usability and sociability design issues in online communities. Currently she has several research projects that focus on motivating participation in citizen science. She authored or coauthored three high-impact books: Human-Computer Interaction (1994), On-line Communities: Designing Usability, Supporting Sociability (2000), Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction (2002, 2007, 2011, 2015).
Andrea Wiggins
Andrea Wiggins is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies and director of the Open Knowledge Lab at UMD. She studies public participation in data-intensive scientific collaboration (aka large-scale citizen science) and issues related to data management and technologies. Her research centers on design and evolution of socio-technical systems for large-scale collaboration and knowledge production. Her current work focuses on the role of technologies in citizen science, evaluating individual and collective performance and productivity in open collaboration, and open data ecosystems in the sciences.

Greg Newman
Greg Newman is a research scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University. He is the director of - a web support platform for citizen science and community-based monitoring programs. His current research focuses on designing and evaluating the effectiveness of cyber-infrastructure support systems for citizen science programs. His research interests include evaluating citizen science program models, understanding the socio-ecological benefits of engaging the public in scientific research, designing and evaluating data management systems for socio-ecological research, assessing the value of local and traditional ecological knowledge for collaborative conservation and education outcomes, and developing spatial-temporal decision support systems.
Alex Williams
Alex Williams is a Ph.D. student, advised by Edith Law, in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo. His research examines topics at the intersection of curiosity, citizen science, and instructional agents. Alex is the lead architect of CrowdCurio, a general-purpose crowdsourcing platform for people-powered science and research. Before coming to Waterloo, he was a research scientist at the University of Oxford where he worked on the Zooniverse's Ancient Lives project and studied how every-day citizens can help unravel the history of ancient Egypt. He hold an MS and BS in computer science from Middle Tennessee State University.

Jonathan Brier
Jonathan Brier is a Ph.D. student at the School of Information at University of Maryland College Park, advised by Andrea Wiggins. His research covers the evaluation, development, and evolution of cyberinfrastructure and online communities. Currently, he is focused on the evaluation of the sustainability of online communities in the domain of citizen science.

Need more information?

If you have any questions regarding the workshop, please send us an email.