A new Workflow for Human-AI Collaboration in Citizen Science

Avi Segal, Kobi Gal, Ece Kamar, Eric Horvitz, Chris Lintott, Mike Walmsley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The unprecedented growth of online citizen science projects provides growing opportunities for the public to participate in scientific discoveries. Nevertheless, volunteers typically make only a few contributions before exiting the system. Thus a significant challenge to such systems is increasing the capacity and efficiency of volunteers without hindering their motivation and engagement. To address this challenge, we study the role of incorporating collaborative agents in the existing workflow of a citizen science project for the purpose of increasing the capacity and efficiency of these systems, while maintaining the motivation of participants in the system. Our new enhanced workflow combines human-machine collaboration in two ways: Humans can aid the machine in solving more difficult tasks with high information value, while the machine can facilitate human engagement by generating motivational messages that emphasize different aspects of human-machine collaboration. We implemented this workflow in a study comprising thousands of volunteers in Galaxy Zoo, one of the largest citizen science projects on the web. Volunteers could choose to use the enhanced workflow or the existing workflow in which users did not receive motivational messages, and tasks were allocated to volunteers sequentially without regard to information value. We found that the volunteers working in the enhanced workflow were more productive than those volunteers who worked in the existing workflow, without incurring a loss in the quality of their contributions. Additionally, in the enhanced workflow, the type of messages used had a profound effect on volunteer performance. Our work demonstrates the importance of varying human-machine collaboration models in citizen science.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGoodIT 2022 - Proceedings of the 2022 ACM Conference on Information Technology for Social Good
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781450392846
StatePublished - 7 Sep 2022
Event2nd ACM Conference on Information Technology for Social Good, GoodIT 2022 - Limassol, Cyprus
Duration: 7 Sep 20229 Sep 2022

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


Conference2nd ACM Conference on Information Technology for Social Good, GoodIT 2022


  • citizen science
  • human computer workflow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Software


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