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Focused campaign increases activity among participants in Nature's Notebook, a citizen science project

Natural Sciences Education

By:
, , , , ,
DOI: 10.4195/nse2013.06.0019

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Abstract

Citizen science projects, which engage non-professional scientists in one or more stages of scientific research, have been gaining popularity; yet maintaining participants’ activity level over time remains a challenge. The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential for a short-term, focused campaign to increase participant activity in a national-scale citizen science program. The campaign that we implemented was designed to answer a compelling scientific question. We invited participants in the phenology-observing program, Nature’s Notebook, to track trees throughout the spring of 2012, to ascertain whether the season arrived as early as the anomalous spring of 2010. Consisting of a series of six electronic newsletters and costing our office slightly more than 1 week of staff resources, our effort was successful; compared with previous years, the number of observations collected in the region where the campaign was run increased by 184%, the number of participants submitting observations increased by 116%, and the number of trees registered increased by 110%. In comparison, these respective metrics grew by 25, 55, and 44%, over previous years, in the southeastern quadrant of the United States, where no such campaign was carried out. The campaign approach we describe here is a model that could be adapted by a wide variety of programs to increase engagement and thereby positively influence participant retention.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Focused campaign increases activity among participants in Nature's Notebook, a citizen science project
Series title:
Natural Sciences Education
DOI:
10.4195/nse2013.06.0019
Volume
43
Issue:
1
Year Published:
2014
Language:
English
Publisher:
American Society of Agronomy
Publisher location:
Madison, WI
Contributing office(s):
National Phenology Network
Description:
9 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Natural Sciences Education
First page:
64
Last page:
72
Number of Pages:
9
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files(Y/N):
N