Skip to main content
Peer-reviewed article

Everyone counts? Design considerations in online citizen science

January 17, 2019 | Media and Technology, Public Programs

Effective classification of large datasets is a ubiquitous challenge across multiple knowledge domains. One solution gaining in popularity is to perform distributed data analysis via online citizen science platforms, such as the Zooniverse. The resulting growth in project numbers is increasing the need to improve understanding of the volunteer experience; as the sustainability of citizen science is dependent on our ability to design for engagement and usability. Here, we examine volunteer interaction with 63 projects, representing the most comprehensive collection of online citizen science project data gathered to date. Together, this analysis demonstrates how subtle project design changes can influence many facets of volunteer interaction, including when and how much volunteers interact, and, importantly, who participates. Our findings highlight the tension between designing for social good and broad community engagement, versus optimizing for scientific and analytical efficiency.


  • Helen Spiers
    University of Oxford
  • Alexandra Swanson
  • Lucy Fortson
    University of Minnesota
  • Brooke Simmons
    Lancaster University
  • REVISE logo
    Adler Planetarium
  • Samantha Blickhan
    Adler Planetarium
  • Chris Lintott
    University of Oxford
  • Citation

    ISSN : 1824-2049
    DOI :
    Publication Name: Journal of Science Communication
    Volume: 18
    Number: 1
    Resource Type: Research Products
    Discipline: Space science
    Audience: General Public | Museum/ISE Professionals | Scientists
    Environment Type: Media and Technology | Websites, Mobile Apps, and Online Media | Public Programs | Citizen Science Programs

    If you would like to edit a resource, please email us to submit your request.