My PhD project, as they tend to do, took a few unexpected twists and turns over the past few weeks, and we have now reached a happier place. For the precious few who care (and yes, that includes my mum), here’s the new and improved state of play…
Crowdsourcing is an online activity that involves outsourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to a group of people or community through an open call. The success of crowdsourcing initiatives relies on meeting two key objectives: sufficient participation and quality contributions. Meeting these objectives requires an understanding of contextual factors such as motivations to participate, as well as effective project and system design and evaluation to achieve optimal performance.
Non-profit crowdsourcing in the cultural heritage domain, which is performed by unpaid volunteers for the public good, is commonly seen as the continuation of a long-standing tradition of volunteerism. While an increasing number of crowdsourcing initiatives involve cultural heritage collections, crowdsourcing is still in an experimental phase and these initiatives have not always been cost-effective. In addition to common project constraints such as limited time, resources and expertise, project teams are challenged by a scarcity of empirically-based guidance to inform system design and evaluation.
Recent information systems (IS) and computing research on crowdsourcing has tended to focus on commercial crowdsourcing systems and paid little attention to non-profit crowdsourcing. In particular, research on the design and evaluation of websites for non-profit crowdsourcing is very limited, which is a knowledge gap this study addresses.
Non-profit crowdsourcing initiatives that involve cultural heritage collections encompass a wide range of crowdsourced tasks and provide a rich and diverse sample. The aim of this study is to develop and evaluate a design theory for crowdsourcing in the cultural heritage domain, comprised of heuristics, testable propositions, justificatory knowledge, examples, and guidance for application, to support website design and evaluation practice. The study is driven by two research questions: What are the aspects of website design that influence crowdsourcing project objectives in the cultural heritage domain, and how can a new design theory for crowdsourcing in the cultural heritage domain better support website design and evaluation practice than existing guidance?
The study adopts a design science approach and the framework for IS design theory (ISDT) proposed by Gregor and Jones (2007). The study investigates website design and evaluation from a human-computer interaction (HCI) perspective, which prior research has suggested could help to better meet crowdsourcing project objectives.