Engaging the crowd: Indexing civil records from Suriname

  • Montserrat Prats López (Speaker)
  • Thunnis van Oort (Speaker)
  • Wessel Ganzevoort (Speaker)
  • Coen Van Galen (Speaker)
  • Mourits, R. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationAcademic


Crowdsourcing is increasingly being used in scientific research projects of different disciplines and hence often referred to as crowd science or online citizen science (Sauermann & Franzoni, 2015). This new way of conducting research entails the online participation of citizens in research projects usually initiated by professional scientists. One important advantage for scientists with limited resources is that it is an resource efficient method to engage more people by untapping existing knowledge and interest in society. Hence, citizen science allows more people to work on a project at the same time (Sauermann & Franzoni, 2015).
Capturing the interest of citizens to participate in a citizen science project and keeping them engaged for the duration of a (sometimes lengthy) project are important and challenging activities for project organizers (Frensley et al., 2017; West & Pateman, 2016). The citizen science literature provides recommendations for recruitment and engagement strategies (West & Pateman, 2016; Crall et al., 2017), and the most important is taking into account the different motivations of citizen volunteers and use engagement strategies accordingly (Ponciano & Brasilerio, 2014). However, research shows that participants have multiple motivations (Rotman et al., 2014) and it is not clear what engagement strategies work best for the different types of citizen participants (Ponciano & Brasileiro, 2014).
Several studies propose measuring volunteers engagement in terms of their actual participation behaviour, examine engagement patterns and use these to create different participant profiles (Ponciano & Brasileiro, 2014; Jackson et al. 2016; Aristeidou et al., 2017). These engagement patterns and participant profiles have been done in projects in the fields of astronomy and natural sciences where the most common task is the annotation of images. There is a need for more research to ensure the generalizability of their findings (Aristeidou et al., 2017; Ponciano & Brasileiro, 2014) and, in particular, to understand engagement patterns and participant profiles in the knowledge-intensive and time-consuming citizen science projects in the humanities (Prats López et al., 2020).
The aim of our research is to study the engagement patterns of citizens participating in a humanities project and to create participation profiles that can be used for further research. To this purpose, we are using the log data of the citizen science project ‘Historical Database Suriname and Curaçao’ (https://hdsc.ning.com/). The objective of this citizen science project is to create a database of the population of Suriname and Curaçao from the years 1830 to 1950, by digitizing and transcribing civil registers and death certificates. This database will be open access available for both scientist and the public in general, to facilitate genealogical research, the study social processes and diversity in colonial society as well as the repercussions of slavery over multiple generations.
Period13 Apr 2023
Event titleEuropean Social Science History Conference
Event typeConference
LocationGöteborg, SwedenShow on map