Crowd-sourcing Scoping Study


Principal Investigator: Dr Mark Hedges
Co-investigators: Dr Stuart Dunn, King's College London
Duration: 2012

This project sought to establish a credible definition for, and the current state of the art of, crowd-sourcing in the humanities. The questions included what the humanities have learned from other research domains, where crowd-sourcing is being exploited, what the results are, why academics are motivated to undertake such activities, and why members of the public are willing to give up their time, effort and knowledge for free. We conducted a survey, supplemented by a set of follow-up interviews, of contributors’ motivations; we reviewed relevant publications and projects; and we held two workshops, one with academics and one with crowd-sourcing contributors. The project also proposed a high-level typology for analysing and describing crowd-sourcing projects in the humanities. Academics in the humanities undertake crowd-sourcing projects for a variety of reasons, and it is difficult to judge the current value of crowd-sourcing in the humanities, even before issues of trust, reliability and academic rigour are accounted for. However, one common factor is that humanities crowd-sourcing succeeds where it creates vibrant, interacting communities, which develop internal dynamics, self-correct, provide mutual support, and form their own relationships with the academic world.