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The culture of contribution in citizen science: Programs and anti-programs

Conference paper
Authors Dick Kasperowski
Thomas Hillman
Published in Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S). August 30 - September 2, 2017. STS (In)Sensibilities. Boston, USA
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
Language en
Subject categories Educational Sciences, Theory of science, Other Humanities, Other Social Sciences


Citizen science projects are often designed to minimize learning as a necessity for mass mobilization, however such processes are outside the control of owners of projects. Projects aiming for scientific output (peer-reviewed publications) must have an instance in the scientific process were citizens are constructed as on par with scientists to assure data quality. These instances are often situated in the participatory protocols (programs) harnessing some kind of ability of the crowd, which make their participation and contributions valid for scientific work. At the same time, citizen science projects also uphold boundaries between citizens and scientists. Intuitively, this might not be necessary as scientists by their professional training have abilities beyond what is possible for volunteer contributors. In practice such boundaries are not so clear. The aim of this paper is to explore when and how such boundaries are challenged as learning is occurring on behalf of contributors in citizen science projects. The purpose is to illuminate the relationship between the citizen scientists as constructed as contributor to science with specific, but static qualities (programs), and the development of contributors over time (anti-programs). Data consists of interactions between researchers and contributors on discussion forums of citizen science projects.

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