Never too old, cold or dry towatch the sky: A survival analysis of citizen science volunteerism

S. Andrew Sheppard, Julian Turner, Jacob Thebault-Spieker, Haiyi Zhu, Loren G Terveen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


CoCoRaHS is a multinational citizen science project for observing precipitation. Like many citizen science projects, volunteer retention is a key measure of engagement and data quality. Through survival analysis, we found that participant age (self-reported at account creation) is a significant predictor of retention. Compared to all other age groups, participants aged 60-70 are much more likely to sign up for CoCoRaHS, and to remain active for several years. We also measured the influence of task difficulty and the relative frequency of rain, finding small but statistically significant and counterintuitive effects. Finally, we confirmed previous work showing that participation levels within the first month are highly predictive of eventual retention. We conclude with implications for observational citizen science projects and crowdsourcing research in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number94
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Association for Computing Machinery.


  • Citizen science
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Volunteer retention


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