Sunday, July 15, 2012

Making a Rewarding Dive into Statistics

 Enough introduction the the project.  Let's dive right in to the final results.

First let's look at correlations existing between the hypothesized success factors and the actual success results (in the forms of overall popularity and scholarly references).  But not for correlations between factors.  I do not argue that many of my hypothesized factors may be correalted and co-indicative.  As non-quantitative factors developed based solely on personal experience, thers is not a rigorous separation between the factors.  I have also not systematically defined each instead relying on examples and a basic defintion.  So the concepts may indeed overlap, as would the rankings.  While there may be some use looking for unknown correlations thateffort probably would not be fruitful.

Our first set will be the combination of all interactive science citizen projects, which does not include any distributed computing projects which behave somewhat differently.  But I do expect all the other interactive projects to have similar correlations; the differences between astronomy, ecology, and meteorology projects are not so different as to have different correlation factors.  Or so I intiailly propose.

  Success (Google Scholar) Success (Google Popularity)
Entertain -0.220795537 -0.060921511
Reward 0.325528097 0.184150624
Challenge 0.207362325 0.026094657
Educate -0.192750571 -0.068373492
Motivate the User 0.207464013 -0.03338748
Create a Community 0.146555214 -0.109951901
Interact in Real Time -0.058822728 -0.202973033
Provide Feedback 0.200423776 -0.020146269
Offer Excitement 0.179612493 0.0760348
Encourage Dialogue 0.069481952 -0.01456579
Provide Data Access -0.240809998 -0.212537934
Allow for Errors -0.311429459 -0.117534344
Be Audacious 0.137497156 -0.011224756
Stay Focused -0.345734709 0.004637614
Make it Convenient -0.090581135 0.000771944
Make Learning Easy -0.178545686 -0.015490161
Make Participating Easy -0.16152641 -0.032260453

As you can see, no matter how success is defined, the strongest positive correlation for all interactive citizen science projects is the availability of a reward.   As you'll remember from my previous postings describing the success factors, the rewards are considered monetary rewards and not the many intangible rewards participants receive.  These are highly important, but are covered separately in other success factors such as "Motivate the User".

In some ways this makes sense; this is the most beneficial to individuals by providing tangible rewards to people.  Helping the community, saving the earth, or learning about sciecne are all noble and motivating benefits, but they don't provide the same incentive as cash rewards.  I should also note that non-cash rewards such as prizes as bounties also count as rewards though pure cash is the most common.  So there are a variety of ways project designers can choose to reward users and create a successful project without breaking the bank.  They just need to be creative.  Just check out my previous post on Citizen Science bounties to leran more and start the brainstorming.

Another item to note is that while Reward is a very powerful factor in success, it is not the only one and there are a large number of projects that offer no rewards.  Many of these are also successful.  In fact only 7 of 52 interactive projects received a non-zero ranking.  So this reaffirms the earlier prediction that the "Keys to Successful Citizen Science Projects" would not be all-inclusive, but would instead be a useful guide to creating successful projects. 

What more can the statistics tell us?  Come back tomorrow and find out!

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