Numerous enterprises, both inside academia and outside have employed crowd-sourcing, which is defined here as mass participation in the gathering, processing or interpretation of information in some directed manner. The primary aim of this study, funded by the AHRC under its Connected Communities programme between February and November 2012, is to research different crowd-sourcing models which have emerged; and to understand better how wider communities can create information and knowledge. It will examine a wide range of academic sources to develop a better understanding of the significance, both current and potential, of crowd-sourcing methods in the humanities, and what barriers (technological, academic, financial etc) exist for humanities researchers who might benefit from application of those methods. The study aims to identify specific research areas in the humanities that will benefit most from adopting and repurposing crowd-sourcing methods, and will attempt to understand crowd-sourcing methods themselves better in the context of academia. The project will also examine how humanities research data which has been produced or enchanced by crowd-sourcing stands in the context of scholarly standards, recognition in the REF and in peer-review.
The study will undertake a desk-based assessment of the literature examining crowd-sourcing as a model in academic research, and will review any case studies that have been produced by other researchers. The project will also undertake a series of surveys and interviews of practitioners and contributors to crowd-sourcing projects.
Two workshops will be convened. The first, to be held in London on May 28th and 29th 2012, will bring together experts from across the humanities and arts, and other subjects too, who have made use of crowd-sourcing in their research. The second, to be held in September 2012, will bring together members of interest communities who have contributed knowledge to these projects. In both cases, common questions will be approached from the two perspectives: why do research projects employ crowd-sourcing, how does it translate in to high quality research, what attracts people to contribute crowd-sourced information, in what ways do such people see themselves as part of a community, and how do they and their knowledge relate and connect to one another.