Citizen Science and Digitization: Examining the Process of Digitization in Crowdsourcing
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The rise of digitization strategies in cultural and scientific institutions yields multiple benefits. Not only are the materials preserved for future use, but the information and data within the digital files becomes more accessible. Crowdsourcing websites have become a popular resource for science-based institutions to create large-scale projects that utilize the help of volunteer citizen scientists. Once the data has been transcribed, collected, and reviewed, the information can be compiled and added to digital repositories where it can be searched alongside other relevant data, making it more accessible for education and research. Another key component to the process is the digitization standards that make the data accessible. This paper will delve into the process of digitization and how it relates to citizen science projects. The Daniel Smiley Research Center of the Mohonk Preserve has two longstanding citizen science projects that comprise the main case study: the Climate Trackers project and the Natural History Observation Card File. The Climate Trackers weather data has been digitized and used in scholarly articles for over twenty years. The Natural History Observation Card File phenology data has also been used in publications, but is not as accessible as it is not yet fully digitized. Other case studies will be drawn from two established crowdsourcing platforms which include Notes from Nature, and iNaturalist. Through a comparison of the two datasets from the Daniel Smiley Research Center, a review the crowdsourcing sites, and tracking the progress of ongoing Notes from Nature projects, these examples will help show how citizen science projects utilize digitization to help preserve and share data.