What's the Problem? How Crowdsourcing Contributes to Identifying Scientific Research Questions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


An increasing number of research projects successfully involve the general public (the crowd) in tasks such as collecting observational data or classifying images to answer scientists’ research questions. Although such crowd science projects have generated great hopes among scientists and policy makers, it is not clear whether the crowd can also meaningfully contribute to other stages of the research process, in particular the identification of research questions that should be studied. We first develop a conceptual framework that ties different aspects of “good” research questions to different types of knowledge. We then discuss potential strengths and weaknesses of the crowd compared to professional scientists in developing research questions, while also considering important heterogeneity among crowd members. Data from a series of online and field experiments has been gathered and is currently analyzed to test individual- and crowd-level hypotheses focusing on the underlying mechanisms that influence a crowd’s performance in generating research questions. Our results aim for advancing the literatures on crowd and citizen science as well as the broader literature on crowdsourcing and the organization of open and distributed knowledge production. Our findings have important implications for scientists and policy makers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Seventy-ninth Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
EditorsGuclu Atinc
Number of pages6
Place of PublicationBriar Cliff Manor, NY
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication date2019
Article number115
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2019: Understanding the Inclusive Organization - Boston, United States
Duration: 9 Aug 201913 Aug 2019
Conference number: 79


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address
SeriesAcademy of Management Proceedings

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