Citizen science through old maps: volunteer motivations in the GB1900 gazetteer-building project

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    Abstract

    The GB1900 project transcribed almost all text on 1:10,650 mapping covering Great Britain, published circa 1900: 2.6 million geo-referenced text strings, so possibly the largest specifically historical gazetteer. Nearly 1,200 volunteers made 5.5 million transcriptions, including “confirmations”. This paper describes the project’s interaction with online volunteers and then presents their experience, as recorded through the online system itself, six in-depth interviews and 162 responses to an online questionnaire. We find that, unlike volunteers in physical science “citizen science” projects, they were motivated by personal interest in the maps, in places that held meaning for them, and in how places had changed. These conclusions enable us to offer suggestions for volunteer recruitment and retention in similar future projects.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)150-163
    JournalHistorical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History
    Volume52
    Issue number3
    Early online date11 Feb 2019
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2019

    Keywords

    • crowd-sourcing
    • citizen science
    • gazetteer
    • GB1900
    • motivation

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