Accepted Paper:

Who are the citizens in citizen science? Public participation in distributed computing  


Elise Tancoigne (University of Geneva)
Bruno J. Strasser (University of Geneva; Yale University)
Jerome Baudry (University of Geneva)

Paper short abstract:

Over 4 million participants contribute to citizen science projects through distributed computing. By mining online profiles and user data we offer a rich picture of the demographics of participation and discuss its implications for the democratization of science.

Paper long abstract:

At the core of citizen science projects lies the belief that the making of science should not be seen as the sole purview of experts, but instead should extend to a broader public. Whether they are called "amateurs", "crowd", "people", or "citizens", they are increasingly enrolled by scientists not just to discuss and learn science, but also to actively engage in the production of scientific knowledge. However, surprisingly little is known about who the citizens scientists are, especially with regard to their education and professional backgrounds. The limited surveys which have been carried out tend to represent the most active participants only, leaving open the question about the identity of the participants as a whole.

Our presentation will provide a closer look at one kind of citizen science project: distributed computing (Seti@home, Rosetta@home, Einstein@home, etc.) focusing on the identity of the online participants. By mining online profiles and user data, our work provides a rich picture of the demographics of participation. We also examine how participation is shaped by the very infrastructure of the projects - public discussion spaces, teams organizations, and reward systems.

Panel T106
Citizen science: Beyond the laboratory