Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2016 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections (WeDigBio)—Our Biocollections Community's Citizen Science Space on the Calendar
Elizabeth Ellwood, Paul Kimberly, Simon Chagnoux, Paul Flemons, Edward Gilbert, Robert Guralnick, Kevin Love, Austin Mast

Building: Computer Science
Room: Computer Science 3
Date: 2016-12-06 11:00 AM – 11:15 AM
Last modified: 2016-10-15


Digitization of biocollections is an ongoing and critical task that has been galvanized by technological advances and new resources, including innovations in crowdsourcing and citizen science. Involving citizen scientists in this process increases their awareness of the number, kinds, and value of biodiversity specimens in collections, advances STEM literacy, increases support for biocollections, and builds sustainability for digitization activities. In turn, growing digital biocollections databases have direct implications for the global community who make use of those data for research and education. To build support for biocollections and their digitization activities and to increase digitization rates, we organized the annual Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections (WeDigBio) Event. In the two years of the event, dozens of museums and classrooms have hosted onsite digitization events where participants transcribed specimen labels using one of five online platforms (DigiVol, Les Herbonautes, Notes from Nature, Smithsonian Institution’s Transcription Center, and Symbiota). Thousands of additional citizen scientists also contributed from more than one hundred fifty countries, completed tens of thousands of transcription tasks.

Planning and executing WeDigBio events required us to find efficient ways to integrate disparate transcription and participant data across platforms and projects. For example, to accurately tally completed transcription tasks among platforms with different workflows, we developed a method that counts each pass of a record by a volunteer as a single unit, or fraction thereof. To quantify participation, such as the number of times an individual visited a site and estimate their location, we relied on tools such as Google Analytics. We used surveys to evaluate event host experiences and participant enjoyment. Here, we present information on the process of organizing an international citizen science event, an analysis of the event’s effectiveness (e.g., transcription rates before, during, and after the event), lessons learned, and future directions.