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Communications of the ACM


When Human-Computer Interaction Meets Community Citizen Science

bird on branch

Birdwatchers contribute data to the eBird crowdsourcing platform.

Credit: Getty Images

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) studies the design and use of interfaces and interactive systems. HCI has been adopted successfully in modern commercial products. Recently, its use for promoting social good and pursuing sustainability—known as sustainable HCI—has begun to receive wide attention.4 Conventionally, scientists and decision-makers apply top-down approaches to lead research activities that engage lay people in facilitating sustainability, such as saving energy. We introduce an alternative framework, Community Citizen Science (CCS), to closely connect research and social issues by empowering communities to produce scientific knowledge, represent their needs, address their concerns, and advocate for impact. CCS advances the current science-oriented concept to a deeper level that aims to sustain community engagement when researchers are no longer involved after the intervention of interactive systems.

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Defining Community Citizen Science

Citizen science refers to the framework that empowers amateurs and professionals to form partnerships and produce scientific knowledge jointly. A major science-oriented strand aims to facilitate scientific research and address large-scale problems that are infeasible for experts to tackle alone.11 In this strand, professionals lead projects, define the goals, and encourage the public to participate in scientific research. One example is Galaxy Zoo (see, which uses the knowledge collected from volunteers to classify a large number of galaxies online. Another example, eBird (see, is an online crowdsourcing platform that engages birdwatchers to contribute bird data collaboratively. Projects in this strand, such as Galaxy Zoo and eBird, are typically designed to answer scientific research questions and increase public understanding of science.


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