How Do Young Community and Citizen Science Volunteers Support Scientific Research on Biodiversity? The Case of iNaturalist
1.1. Public Participation in Scientific Research
1.2. Young People’s Participation in Community and Citizen Science
1.3. Biodiversity-Focused Community and Citizen Science
1.4. Data Quality in Community and Citizen Science
1.5. Aims of This Research
- RO1: To explore the verifiability and quality grade of young volunteers’ contributed observations, overall and per iNaturalist’s taxon category;
- RO2: To explore the relationships (if any) between participation behaviour (proportion of active days and duration) and proportion of contributed Research Grade quality observations.
- RO 3: To explore the relationships (if any) between background characteristics, including age and gender, with the proportion of contributed Research Grade observations.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. iNaturalist: Contributing to Biodiversity Research
2.1.1. Taxonomic Coverage of iNaturalist
2.1.2. Research Grade Observations
2.2. Participants and Settings
2.3. Tracking Young People’s Research Grade Observations
2.4. Participation Metrics
- Activity ratio is the ratio of days on which a user was active and contributed at least one observation in relation to the total days they remained linked to iNaturalist (from account creation to the last contributing day). The closer to 1, the more active a user is during the days they are linked to the platform. This metric provides us with information on how active a young volunteer is on iNaturalist.
- Relative activity duration is the ratio of days during which a user is linked to iNaturalist and to the total number of days from their first iNaturalist contribution day to the date that iNaturalist data were aggregated for this study (18 October 2018). The it is closer to 1, the longer a user remains on the platform. This metric provides us with information on the duration that a young volunteer is an active contributor on iNaturalist.
2.5. Background Characteristics
3.1. Research Grade Observations (RO1)
3.2. Participation and Research Grade (RO2)
- Activity ratio: M = 0.41, SD = 0.43;
- Relative activity duration: M = 0.43, SD = 0.43.
3.3. Youth Characteristics and Research Grade (RO3)
4.1. Young Volunteers and Scientific Research in Biodiversity
4.2. Youth Participation Behaviour and Characteristics
- Biodiversity scientists and others with taxonomic expertise interested in using iNaturalist observations in research need to identify verifiable observations to help move them to Research Grade, and to update and improve the identification of observations that are currently Research Grade;
- CCS project managers need to design projects that work with their target audience’s skill level in mind, build in data quality assurance and control procedures, and continue engagement to help encourage lasting participation on iNaturalist;
- CCS project managers need to provide adequate training and equipment (e.g., magnification clips for phones) to move them towards making verifiable observations—which includes tips for taking identifiable photographs for science and how to check date, time and geographic location.
- If involving young people is a goal, CCS project managers and biodiversity scientists need to work together (although we recognise that sometimes they are one in the same group of people) to ensure youth are fully supported in their efforts to take part in iNaturalist-based CCS projects.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Background Characteristics||N||RG Ratio Mean (M)||RG Standard Deviation (SD)|
|Research Grade Ratio||Scheffe Comparisons (p Value)|
|4. 16–19||62||0.52||0.23||0.76||0.70||0.03 *|
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Aristeidou, M.; Herodotou, C.; Ballard, H.L.; Higgins, L.; Johnson, R.F.; Miller, A.E.; Young, A.N.; Robinson, L.D. How Do Young Community and Citizen Science Volunteers Support Scientific Research on Biodiversity? The Case of iNaturalist. Diversity 2021, 13, 318. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13070318
Aristeidou M, Herodotou C, Ballard HL, Higgins L, Johnson RF, Miller AE, Young AN, Robinson LD. How Do Young Community and Citizen Science Volunteers Support Scientific Research on Biodiversity? The Case of iNaturalist. Diversity. 2021; 13(7):318. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13070318Chicago/Turabian Style
Aristeidou, Maria, Christothea Herodotou, Heidi L. Ballard, Lila Higgins, Rebecca F. Johnson, Annie E. Miller, Alison N. Young, and Lucy D. Robinson. 2021. "How Do Young Community and Citizen Science Volunteers Support Scientific Research on Biodiversity? The Case of iNaturalist" Diversity 13, no. 7: 318. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13070318