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New blog on Citizen Science

On the blog we present new data and preliminary results from the research project Taking science to the crowd: Researchers, programmers and volunteer contributors transforming science online.

Recently, science has begun to turn to crowds of online volunteers through open calls for help in analysis of very large sets of data. Scientists are making use of contemporary digital networking through the Internet to attract and enlist crowds of volunteers to contribute to projects in a wide variety of disciplines as diverse as astronomy, papyrology and biology. This is considered an important and innovative way for science to expand the workforce needed to work with large data sets. This type of relationship between non-scientists and science has not been encountered on such a grand scale before and offer volunteer contributors the opportunity to take part in on-going scientific research.

Contributions from a wider population into scientific knowledge production, however, require arrangements to ensure quality. A key question becomes who or what creates scientific knowledge in crowdsourcing projects? How is digital technologies used to enable volunteers with limited knowledge about theory and method to contribute to science? How is agreement on scientific rigour and data quality achieved and maintained? Through established methods of social network analysis, both on- as well as off-line, this project will contribute to our understanding of how digital technologies are transforming the ways scientific knowledge is produced. The primary theoretical contribution will be to develop a social epistemology of crowdsourcing in scientific practice. Providing a structure and context for volunteer-derived knowledge that more broadly makes it possible to articulate, formalize and validate this type of increasingly important scientific projects.