A Knowledge Perspective on Quality in Complex Citizen Science

M. Prats López*, Maura Soekijad, Hans Berends, Marleen Huysman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article examines how project leaders in complex citizen science projects ensure the quality of project outcomes given the challenges of involving citizens, whose knowledge is diverse and unknown beforehand. To this aim, a qualitative multiple-case study was carried out to compare the practices of five collaborative online citizen science projects in the humanities in which citizens transcribe, translate, and annotate handwritten manuscripts from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The choices made to access knowledge, thus to recruit participants either through open or targeted calls, seem to be fundamental for the different configurations of knowledge management activities that project leaders apply to ensure quality outcomes. Other factors influencing these knowledge management configurations are citizens’ proximity, knowledge characteristics, technology affordances, and the extent to which project leaders are aware of citizens’ backgrounds and skills. This study adds to earlier frameworks proposed to advise the design and management of citizen science projects. By taking a knowledge perspective, this article provides practical directions for project leaders involved in citizen science and highlights the need to put time and effort in managing knowledge processes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number15
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalCitizen Science: Theory and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2020


  • Citizen Science
  • Humanities
  • knowledge management
  • Manuscript transcription
  • Citizen science
  • Knowledge management


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