Drivers of Participation in Digital Citizen Science:Case Studies on Järviwiki and Safecast

Victoria Palacin*, Sarah Gilbert, Shane Orchard, Angela Eaton, Maria Angela Ferrario, Ari Happonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Digital citizen science platforms are prominent examples of modern volunteerism that provide people with opportunities to observe natural phenomena and to engage in scientific processes. In this study, we explore the values and motivations underlying sustained participation in digital citizen science projects through the lenses of two social psychology theories (Schwartz’s Human Values Theory and Self-Determination Theory). We present in-depth analyses of interviews with 15 long-term volunteers in two digital citizen science initiatives (Järviwiki and Safecast) that have been collecting environmental data for a decade in Finland and Japan. Our results advance the understanding of the values underpinning motivations. Our analyses show that openness-to-change values, such as self-direction, are important for initial participation, yet a diverse range of values, except for power, play a role in sustaining participation. Our study also shows that the values related to sustained participation are linked with extrinsic motivations, suggesting that when extrinsic motivators are self-directed, people will not only perform tasks willingly and enthusiastically but also in a sustained manner. Conceptualizing the behavioral continuum that drives volunteering actions provides practical insights that can assist the design, development, and evaluation of digital citizen science platforms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalCitizen Science: Theory and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the support from Prof. Jari Porras for this study. Also, special thanks to Olli Kousa and Misato Yoshikawa who helped translating the interviews in Japanese/Finnish to English. We would like to highlight the incredible support from the Safecast (Azby Brown, Pieter Franken and Sean Bonner) and Järviwiki (Matti Lindholm) teams who facilitated our recruitment calls. Finally, we are thankful for the financial support from the Erasmus+ PERCCOM and Values-First SE EPSRC projects.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Digital citizen science
  • Human values
  • Incentive mechanisms
  • Järviwiki
  • Motivation
  • Safecast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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