Everyone counts? Design considerations in online citizen science

Helen Spiers, Alexandra Swanson, Lucy Fortson, Brooke D. Simmons, Laura Trouille, Samantha Blickhan, Chris Lintott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Effective classification of large datasets is a ubiquitous challenge across multiple knowledge domains. One solution gaining in popularity is to perform distributed data analysis via online citizen science platforms, such as the Zooniverse. The resulting growth in project numbers is increasing the need to improve understanding of the volunteer experience; as the sustainability of citizen science is dependent on our ability to design for engagement and usability. Here, we examine volunteer interaction with 63 projects, representing the most comprehensive collection of online citizen science project data gathered to date. Together, this analysis demonstrates how subtle project design changes can influence many facets of volunteer interaction, including when and how much volunteers interact, and, importantly, who participates. Our findings highlight the tension between designing for social good and broad community engagement, versus optimizing for scientific and analytical efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA04
JournalJournal of Science Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati.


  • Citizen science
  • Public engagement with science and technology
  • Social inclusion

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