Call for Paper: Special Issue on User Experience of Digital Technologies in Citizen Science - Journal of Science Communication

Call for Paper | Special Issue on User Experience of Digital Technologies in Citizen Science - Journal of Science Communication

The call is published in the Journal of Science Communication: Abstract submission opens on November 1st, 2017.

Guest Editors:

Artemis Skarlatidou, University College London, UK

Marisa Ponti,  University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Muki Haklay, University College London, UK
Eiman Kanjo, Nottingham Trent University, UK
Christian Nold, University College London, UK
Jennifer Preece, University of Maryland, USA
James Sprinks, University of Nottingham, UK


Scope of the special issue and why it is opportune now

Citizen science can be broadly defined as cooperation between members of the general public and professional researchers to conduct scientific research. Digital technologies play a significant role in citizen science by facilitating new forms of communication between citizens and scientists and creating new spaces where citizens and scientists can interact. The following brief vignettes provide just a flavor of how digital technologies are currently  implemented in citizen science, and how powerful they can be for science, for volunteers and for the interactions between the two.  

 “In the deep jungle a group of pygmies out for a hunt stop and gather around the shattered remains of trees strewn across the jungle floor. One of the hunters pulls out a small GPS device and marks the spot. Thousands of miles away in an office at University College London a researcher adds the coordinates to an online map of the Congo already speckled with reported signs of illegal logging activity. Across the Atlantic, in Seattle, a teenager plays a computer game carefully manipulating the branch like shapes of proteins watching her score rise and fall as she optimizes their configurations. Across town, researchers at the University of Washington harness her folding skills to identify protein configurations that might help them synthesize more effective drugs to fight AIDS, cancer, or Alzheimer’s”
(Wynn, 2017).

Regardless of the potentialities of empowerment - and its socio-technical implications - one aspect that it is frequently overlooked is how volunteers interact with these technologies, what they expect from them, and whether these technologies  succeed or fail to serve their purpose and, in either case, why. Like social media, citizen science platforms are creating new configurations of people and issues that transform the way the environment is being monitored and challenge the status quo of knowledge production and public deliberation.

Aim of the special issue

The aim of this special issue is to present high quality, original manuscripts related to user experience (UX) of technologies used in citizen science, such as, for example, mobile technologies, sensors, games, and data gathering applications for illiterate users in remote areas, among the others. While usability has always been associated with the design of technology, with the aim of getting the job done efficiently and with satisfaction, UX goes beyond fundamental design issues to include also social and affective aspects, such as having fun, being social, enjoying aesthetics, being amazed, and experiencing other emotional responses (Preece, 2016).
Manuscripts must be original, but significant expansions and revisions of papers recently presented at conferences and workshops will be considered. Papers considering issues under the following themes are particularly welcomed:

  • State-of-the-art reviews on how volunteers interact with current technological artefacts in the context of citizen science, with an emphasis on limitations and directions for future developments and research.
  • Case studies that demonstrate user requirement elicitation or user-centered design approaches and lessons learned.
  • The relationship between technology design and citizen motivation.
  • UX design aspects. E.g., design for privacy, inclusion, accessibility, trust, and usability.
  • Appropriateness of technologies to the task and the environment in which they are used.
  • The impact of citizen science technologies on controversies and public deliberation, with a focus on how those influence interactions.   

The issue aims to capture the state-of-the-art on the UX of digital citizen science and provide a starting point for discussions about the design and use of citizen science digital technologies. We aim to bring together knowledge and expertise from the disciplines of design, citizen science, interaction design  and usability engineering to capture and address existing barriers, and improve the design and experience of volunteers’ interaction with citizen science technologies.

For this issue, we invite contributions including, but not limited to, any of the following:

  • Reviews of state-of-the-art on the topic of digital citizen science with an emphasis on design, volunteer requirements and use under the prism of specific digital contexts (e.g., mobile technologies, sensors, games, data gathering applications for illiterate users in remote areas).
  • UX evaluation studies that contribute to our understanding and provide insight into how digital tools and applications should be designed to improve interaction and use. There is no limitation as to the type of evaluation methods considered (e.g., methods used in the lab and methods used in the field, surveys, heuristics, prototype/full scale evaluations).
  • User requirement gathering studies to inform interface design of digital citizen science technologies. There is no limitation as to the type of evaluation methods considered (e.g., methods used in the lab and methods used in the field).
  • Best practice studies, lessons learned and challenges for digital citizen science.
  • Discussion of usability engineering/HCI methodologies and theoretical approaches for the evaluation of digital citizen science tools and applications.    
  • How citizen science platforms are transforming the relationship between people and environment and challenging conceptions of knowledge production and public deliberation, with an insight into how this might in turn further influence interaction with these technologies.

Schedule and Submission Details

Pre-submission of abstracts start: November 1, 2017
Pre-submission of abstracts deadline:   January 10, 2018
Notification of abstract acceptance to authors:    January 30, 2018
Full manuscript submission deadline:        March 25, 2018

All manuscripts will be subject to peer review and authors can anticipate receiving an initial decision during the Summer of 2018. Final review and decisions are expected in the Autumn of 2018 with publication in the Spring of 2019.

How to submit

Abstracts and full manuscripts must be submitted in English. All contributions will be peer reviewed.

should be no more than 300 words and contain no reference. Authors should submit their abstracts at:

Full manuscripts 
(5,000-7,000 words) should be submitted via the JCOM online system.  Authors will be notified of the starting date for submissions and sent instruction in due course. For information about the JCOM submission procedures and advice on formatting and preparing your manuscript please see the following link:

for further information:
Specialissue19 [at] gmail [dot] com


This special issue is organized under the auspices of the COST Action 15212 Citizen Science to promote creativity, scientific literacy, and innovation throughout Europe and its Working Group 4 ‘Enhance the role of CS for civil society’.


Wynn, J. (2017). Citizen science in the digital age: Rhetoric, science, and public engagement. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, AL.

Preece, J. (2016). Citizen Science: New Research Challenges for Human–Computer Interaction. International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction, 32(8), 585-612, DOI: 10.1080/10447318.2016.1194153