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Improving NASA’s Archives to Better Citizen Science

Presentation #541.04 in the session “Computational Augmentation to Surveys and Science Programs”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
Improving NASA’s Archives to Better Citizen Science

Citizen science projects rely heavily on archived data. However, understanding and translating scientific jargon found in these archives can be a barrier for those who participate in citizen science and can be a deterrent for those who want to get involved. The goal of this investigation is to identify what areas of improvement citizen scientists want to see in NASA’s archives to make them more user-friendly and useful for citizen science. I did this by creating and running a voluntary survey for citizen scientists. Additionally, I interviewed citizen science project leads as well as archive personnel to gauge their perspective. It was found that citizen scientists need more tutorials and resources explaining how to use the archives as well as explanations for the scientific jargon. Archive personnel communicated a need for clear direction from NASA HQ as to how they can complete these modifications, as well as more resources to help with these tasks. Lastly, citizen science project leads think more resources are needed for citizen scientists (such as an FAQ page) as well as for those who want to develop their own citizen science project. However, a key element that was emphasized in all three components of the investigation was the need for better advertisements not only for the archives, but for the resources explaining the archives. This may inherently be a result of the fact that these archives were not originally built for the public. More recently, using the results of this study, we have begun to break down the jargon found on archive pages by providing pop-up definitions.

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