Which motives are most effective in recruiting citizen scientists? Results of a field experiment

Publication Type:

Journal Article




Citizen Science


Researchers have identified a range of motives for participation in citizen science projects, but have not investigated their relative efficacy in encouraging initial participation. We report on an experiment (N=36,513) that compared the response to emails designed to appeal to four different motives for participation. We found that the messages appealing to the possibility of contributing to science and learning about science attracted more attention than did one about helping scientists but that one asking for help for scientists generated more initial contributions. Overall, contributing to science resulted in the largest volume of contributions and joining a community the lowest.

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