How Do Young Community and Citizen Science Volunteers Support Scientific Research on Biodiversity? The Case of iNaturalist

Aristeidou, Maria; Herodotou, Christothea; Ballard, Heidi L.; Higgins, Lila; Johnson, Rebecca F.; Miller, Annie E.; Young, Alison N. and Robinson, Lucy D. (2021). How Do Young Community and Citizen Science Volunteers Support Scientific Research on Biodiversity? The Case of iNaturalist. Diversity, 13(7), article no. 318.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/d13070318

Abstract

Online community and citizen science (CCS) projects have broadened access to scientific research and enabled different forms of participation in biodiversity research; however, little is known about whether and how such opportunities are taken up by young people (aged 5–19). Furthermore, when they do participate, there is little research on whether their online activity makes a tangible contribution to scientific research. We addressed these knowledge gaps using quantitative analytical approaches and visualisations to investigate 249 youths’ contributions to CCS on the iNaturalist platform, and the potential for the scientific use of their contributions. We found that nearly all the young volunteers’ observations were ‘verifiable’ (included a photo, location, and date/time) and therefore potentially useful to biodiversity research. Furthermore, more than half were designated as ‘Research Grade’, with a community agreed-upon identification, making them more valuable and accessible to biodiversity science researchers. Our findings show that young volunteers with lasting participation on the platform and those aged 16–19 years are more likely to have a higher proportion of Research Grade observations than younger, or more ephemeral participants. This study enhances our understanding of young volunteers’ contributions to biodiversity research, as well as the important role professional scientists and data users can play in helping verify youths’ contributions to make them more accessible for biodiversity research.

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About

  • Item ORO ID
  • 78120
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • Project Funding Details
  • Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
    Examining learning processes through the integration of two informal science learning approaches: Natural History Museum-led citizen science206202/Z/17/ZNational Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Keywords
  • data quality; community science; citizen science; iNaturalist; online participation; young volunteers; biodiversity
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
  • Research Group
  • Childhood Youth and Sport Group (CYSG)
    Children's Research Centre (CRC)
    eSTEeM
    OpenTEL
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2021 Maria Aristeidou et al.
  • Depositing User
  • Maria Aristeidou

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