Collaborative Ecological Observation: Issues in Moving from Social Media to Research Data

2015, 11-12 February
Citizen Science 2015 Conference
• Tyng-Ruey Chuang (Academia Sinica)
• Dong-Po Deng (Academia Sinica)
• Cheng-Hsin Hsu (Academia Sinica)
• Lucien C.-H. Lin (Academia Sinica)
• Te-En Lin (Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute)
• Guan-Shuo Mai (Academia Sinica)
• Kwang-Tsao Shao (Academia Sinica)
• Mei-Hsueh Wang (Academia Sinica)
Tyng-Ruey Chuang


We report our experience in working with rich contents that are collaboratively produced from a citizen science project. The project Reptile Road Mortality initially started in a social media setting [1], but its produced datasets have been moved to an open platform to encourage reuse [2]. 

There are many issues to consider when hosting citizen science projects on the Web in particular when services provided by social media are used. Popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have very large user bases, and they facilitate and encourage various kinds of online user interactions. Social media makes it easier to draw people to participate in citizen science projects, but this is without drawbacks. We identify general issues in using social media for citizen science projects. We categorize these issues into five areas: Consensus, Mediation, Workflow, Reuse, and Enrichment. As we review these issues, we will elaborate some of the considerations when addressing these issues based in part by our experience in the Reptile Road Mortality project. We begin by asking some central questions in each of the five categories. 

Consensus: Participants collaborate in data collection and analysis. Who can use the result? 

Mediation: Participation is mediated. What are the constraints, and what to do about them? 

Workflow: How does data sourced from social media fit into existing research workflow? 

Reuse: How to better share citizen science datasets to the larger research community? 

Enrichment: How do the above issues and considerations shape research practices? 

[1] Reptile Road Mortality (FacebookGroup). 
[2] Taiwan Roadkill Observation Network. See


See more about this conference, Citizen Science Association