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Galaxy Zoo: Motivations of Citizen Scientists
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http://aip.metastore.ingenta.com/content/aas/journal/aer/12/1/10.3847/AER2011021
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Figures

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Figure 1.

A screenshot of the online survey form

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Figure 2.

Histogram of age responses in the sample (n = 10 952). Ages range from 18 to 80 (responses of “over 80” are excluded). The trend of age responses is fairly flat up to about age 60, then falls off quickly for older ages. The mean age is 43.02, and the standard deviation is 14.58 years

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Figure 3.

(a) Gender of survey respondents at each age, from 18 to 80 (n = 10 569). The orange diamonds show the number of males at each age, and the green squares show number of females at each age. The error bars are the square root of the number of total respondents at each age. The number of responses for both genders decreases markedly with increasing age. Men outnumber women at all ages. (b) Percentage of survey-takers self-reporting as male and female at each self-reported age, from 18 to 80 (n = 10 569). The error bars are , where n is the total number of respondents at each age. The orange diamonds show percentage of males and the green squares show percentage of females. The ratio between males and females steadily increases with increasing age

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Figure 4.

A world map showing all countries with at least 10 survey respondents reporting as their country of residence. The map is color-coded by number of respondents. Red represents more than 1000 respondents; orange is 100 to 1000; yellow is 50 to 100; and blue is 10 to 50. The map shows that the reach of Galaxy Zoo extends beyond just the U.S. and U.K

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Figure 5.

(a) Histograms showing responses to Likert Scale questions for the nine motivations in which responses could be combined for the two survey implementations. The histograms show that respondents identified several motivations as being important. (b) Histograms showing responses to Likert Scale questions for three motivations in the sample resulting from the implementation of the survey with the overall volunteer population, and with the incentive of Galaxy Zoo 2 beta access. (c) Histograms showing responses to Likert Scale questions for three motivations in the sample resulting from the implementation of the survey with the forum user population, and without the incentive

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Figure 6.

The relationship between primary motivation and Likert Scale data. The y-axis lists the 12 primary motivations, top to bottom, in order of increasing frequency in the entire sample (from least to most common). The x-axis shows the Likert Scale scores for each motivation, left to right, in the same order. Some interesting relationships are discussed in the text.

Tables

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Table 1.

Categories of motivation used in this research. The table lists the name used by the research team to describe the category, and the description of the category that was used as a stem in the survey instrument

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Table 2.

Distribution of genders in the sample (n = 10 605)

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Table 3.

The observed age distributions of U.S. men (n = 2974) and women (n = 782) in our survey data, compared to what would be expected from a representative sample of the U.S. online population with the same gender ratio as our sample (82% men overall, as in Table 2 ). The table shows each age bin, the observed number of men and women, and the residuals (positive = excess over expected; negative = deficit under expected). The numbers in parentheses are standardized residuals ( ). Bolded values indicate standardized residuals larger than 2. The bold standardized residuals show a deficit of older volunteers in both genders. Among men, results also show a deficit of younger volunteers and a clear excess of volunteers age 50 to 65

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Table 4.

The top 25 countries of residence represented in the sample. Percentages calculated exclude missing values and “prefer not to answer” responses. Together, responses from these 25 countries make up 95% of the entire sample (n = 10 632)

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Table 5.

Frequency of responses to the question, “What is the highest level of education you have completed?,” excluding “prefer not to answer” (a) U.S. School Systems (n = 6380) and (b) U. K. School Systems (n = 4766)

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Table 6.

The observed distributions of education levels of survey respondents from the U.S. age 25 or older (n = 2849), compared to what would be expected from a representative sample of U.S. Internet users. The table shows each age bin, the observed number of men and women, and the residuals (positive = excess over expected, negative = deficit under expected). The numbers in parentheses are standardized residuals. Across all education levels, Galaxy Zoo volunteers are more educated than the overall online population

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Table 7.

New motivation categories identified from the question, “Can you think of any other reasons someone might be interested in Galaxy Zoo?.” is the consensus name used by the raters, and describes the motivation. Motivations in bold also appeared in the analysis of free responses to the “Other” responses of the primary motivation question. The level at which these additional motivations occur suggests that they are unlikely to be a major source of error in our analysis

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Table 8.

Correlations (Spearman rho) between overall Likert scale scores for each of the 12 motivation categories. Correlations between motivations are present but are all less than 0.7, suggesting that motivations measure related but separate constructs

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Table 9.

(a) Motivation z-scores for men and women. Women rank most motivations significantly more highly than men, which may be a result of acquiescence bias ( ), but rank even more highly than other motivations. On the other hand, men rank significantly more highly than women. (b) Likert-scale z-scores for men and women from the sample of all Galaxy Zoo volunteers, with the incentive of beta access to Galaxy Zoo 2. (c) Likert-scale z-scores for men and women from the sample of forum users, without the incentive of beta access to Galaxy Zoo 2

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Table 10.

Primary motivations for all respondents in the sample (n = 10 532). In contrast to the Likert Scale results (Figures 5(a)–5(c) ), these results show that is clearly the most important motivation to this sample of Galaxy Zoo volunteers

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Table 11.

Primary motivations for men (n = 8515) and women (n = 1878), excluding “prefer not to answer” responses. Both men and women choose as their most important motivation. Because these data come from a forced choice question rather than a Likert Scale, they are less vulnerable to acquiescense bias effects than the data in Table 9

Abstract

Citizen science, in which volunteers work with professional scientists to conduct research, is expanding due to large online datasets. To plan projects, it is important to understand volunteers' motivations for participating. This paper analyzes results from an online survey of nearly 11 000 volunteers in Galaxy Zoo, an astronomy citizen science project. Results show that volunteers' primary motivation is a desire to contribute to scientific research. We encourage other citizen science projects to study the motivations of their volunteers, to see whether and how these results may be generalized to inform the field of citizen science.

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Scitation: Galaxy Zoo: Motivations of Citizen Scientists
http://aip.metastore.ingenta.com/content/aas/journal/aer/12/1/10.3847/AER2011021
10.3847/AER2011021
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