Task workflow design and its impact on performance and volunteers’ subjective preference in virtual citizen science

Sprinks, James and Wardlaw, Jessica and Houghton, Robert J. and Bamford, Steven and Morley, Jeremy (2017) Task workflow design and its impact on performance and volunteers’ subjective preference in virtual citizen science. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies . ISSN 1071-5819

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Abstract

Virtual citizen science platforms allow non-scientists to take part in scientific research across a range of disciplines. What they ask of volunteers varies considerably in terms of task type, variety, user judgement required and user freedom, which has received little direct investigation. A study was performed with the Planet Four: Craters project to investigate the effect of task workflow design on both volunteer experience and the scientific results they produce. Participants’ feedback through questionnaire responses indicated a preference for interfaces providing greater autonomy and variety, with free-text responses suggesting that autonomy was the more important. This did not translate into improved performance however, with the most autonomous interface not resulting in significantly better performance in data volume, agreement or accuracy compared to other less autonomous interfaces. The interface with the least number of task types, variety and autonomy resulted in the greatest data coverage. Agreement, both between participants and with the expert equivalent, was significantly improved when the interface most directly afforded tasks that captured the required underlying data (i.e. crater position or diameter). The implications for the designers of virtual citizen science platforms is that they have a balancing act to perform, weighing up the importance of user satisfaction, the data needs of the science case and the resources that can be committed both in terms of time and data reduction.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: James Sprinks, Robert Houghton, Steven Bamford and Jeremy Morley were supported by the Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Nottingham (RCUK Grant No. EP/G037574/1) and the RCUK’s Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute (RCUK Grant No. EP/G065802/1). The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under iMars grant agreement no. 607379. Special thanks to Brian Carstensen, web developer and Michael Parrish, software developer based at the Adler Planetarium, Chicago for their support in developing the Planet Four interfaces. Special thanks also to Jenny Taylor, planetary seismologist at the University of Bristol, for developing the crater counting science case and identifying the required imagery.
Keywords: Citizen Science, Engagement Task workflow, Interface design
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Engineering
University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Science > School of Physics and Astronomy
Identification Number: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2017.03.003
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Houghton, Robert
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2017 15:18
Last Modified: 11 May 2017 21:09
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/41173

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