Setting up crowd science projects

Kaja Scheliga, Sascha Friesike, Cornelius Puschmann, Benedikt Fecher

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Crowd science is scientific research that is conducted with the participation of volunteers who are not professional scientists. Thanks to the Internet and online platforms, project initiators can draw on a potentially large number of volunteers. This crowd can be involved to support data-rich or labour-intensive projects that would otherwise be unfeasible. So far, research on crowd science has mainly focused on analysing individual crowd science projects. In our research, we focus on the perspective of project initiators and explore how crowd science projects are set up. Based on multiple case study research, we discuss the objectives of crowd science projects and the strategies of their initiators for accessing volunteers. We also categorise the tasks allocated to volunteers and reflect on the issue of quality assurance as well as feedback mechanisms. With this article, we contribute to a better understanding of how crowd science projects are set up and how volunteers can contribute to science. We suggest that our findings are of practical relevance for initiators of crowd science projects, for science communication as well as for informed science policy making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-534
Number of pages20
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
Issue number5
Early online date30 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • case study research
  • citizen science
  • crowd science
  • crowdsourcing
  • digitisation of research
  • online platforms
  • science communication
  • volunteer engagement


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