Modeling intrinsic factors of inclusive engagement in citizen science: Insights from the participants’ survey analysis of CSI-COP

Shlomit Hadad, Maayan Zhitomirsky-Geffet, Huma Shah, Dorottya Rigler, Ulrico Celentano, Henna Tiensuu, Juha Röning, Jordi Vallverdú, Eva Jove Csabella, Olga Stepankova, John Gialelis, Konstantina Lantavou, Tiberius Ignat, Giacomo Masone, Jaimz Winter, Marica Dumitrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inclusive citizen science, an emerging field, has seen extensive research. Prior studies primarily concentrated on creating theoretical models and practical strategies for diversifying citizen science (CS) projects. These studies relied on ethical frameworks or post-project empirical observations. Few examined active participants’ socio-demographic and behavioral data. Notably, none, to our knowledge, explored prospective citizen scientists’ traits as intrinsic factors to enhance diversity and engagement in CS. This paper presents a new inclusive CS engagement model based on quantitative analysis of surveys administered to 540 participants of the dedicated free informal education MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) ‘Your Right to Privacy Online’ from eight countries in the EU funded project, CSI-COP (Citizen Scientists Investigating Cookies and App GDPR compliance). The surveys were filled out just after completing the training stage and before joining the project as active CSs. Out of the 540 participants who completed the surveys analyzed in this study, only 170 (32%) individuals actively participated as CSs in the project. Therefore, the study attempted to understand what characterizes these participants compared to those who decided to refrain from joining the project after the training stage. The study employed descriptive analysis and advanced statistical tests to explore the correlations among different research variables. The findings revealed several important relationships and predictors for becoming a citizen scientist based on the surveys analysis, such as age, gender, culture, education, Internet accessibility and apps usage, as well as the satisfaction with the MOOC, the mode of training and initial intentions for becoming a CS. These findings lead to the development of the empirical model for inclusive engagement in CS and enhance the understanding of the internal factors that influence individuals’ intention and actual participation as CSs. The devised model offers valuable insights and key implications for future CS initiatives. It emphasizes the necessity of targeted recruitment strategies, focusing on underrepresented groups and overcoming accessibility barriers. Positive learning experiences, especially through MOOCs, are crucial; enhancing training programs and making educational materials accessible and culturally diverse can boost participant motivation. Acknowledging varying technological proficiency and providing necessary resources enhances active engagement. Addressing the intention-engagement gap is vital; understanding underlying factors and creating supportive environments can transform intentions into active involvement. Embracing cultural diversity through language-specific strategies ensures an inclusive environment for effective contributions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0294575
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11 November
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: © 2023 Hadad et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


This communication is part of a project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (under grant agreement N° 873169). Initials of the authors who received each award; H. S. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme873169


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