Executive Summary

Download the Proceedings PDF [59mb]

Engaging the Public: Best Practices for Crowdsourcing Across the Disciplines was a workshop held May 6-8, 2015 in College Park, Maryland. The workshop was made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), with additional support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Formed to support research and deployment of crowdsourcing in service of scholarship, the workshop brought together leading researchers and practitioners across a variety of disciplines, representing over 50 institutions and organizations, to tackle the challenges and realize the potential benefits of crowdsourcing for production and access to knowledge and cultural artifacts.

The workshop goals included:

  • Devising ways of fostering information sharing on crowdsourcing
  • Building connections among the “crowdsourcing diaspora”
  • Identifying the roles of crowdsourcing within institutions
  • Finding funding for crowdsourcing initiatives
  • Finding new and innovative ways to engage the public in research and other activities
  • Predicting future directions for crowdsourcing in cultural and research institutions
  • Highlighting the value proposition of crowdsourcing for organizational decision makers

The workshop incorporated case study presentations from the Shelly-Godwin Archives, Aurorasaurus, North American Bird Phenology Project, OPENIdeo and Women for Human Rights, and the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

In breakout groups, participants compared challenges for crowdsourcing in scholarly and cultural institutions, including: inclusivity, standardizing crowdsourcing practice, requirements for flexible tools, how to develop a toolset that can work in many different situations, and cultivating communities.

Groups further explored promising trends and tools and their impact on crowdsourcing including machine learning, the “Internet of Things,” data and data overload, work styles, the end of expertise and a growing crisis in higher education.

Funders shared perspectives on resources for crowdsourcing and foster a cross-disciplinary dialogue, including representatives from the National Institutes of Health, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the IMLS.

The workshop concluded with future-focused design exercises to develop models for advancing crowdsourcing practice and research by:

  • Connecting education and engagement
  • Learning from failure to develop more robust practices
  • Creating multiple engagement models for different communities
  • Building a thriving and participatory consortium

Download the Proceedings PDF [59mb]