An analysis of fossil identification guides to improve data reporting in citizen science programs
MetadataShow full item record
An increasing number of organizations use untrained volunteers to gather scientific data. This citizen science movement builds enthusiasm for science by engaging the public, as well as providing a way to gather large amounts of information at little or no expense. The challenge of citizen science is obtaining accurate information from participants. Identifying an image style that increases correct identifications helps not only the citizen science movement but also scientific instruction in general. This study tests three visual guides for identifying late Hemphillian (5-4.5 m.y.a.) fossils from Polk County, Florida. Each guide has identical layout and text, differing only in image style: color photos, grayscale photos, or illustrations. Teams of untrained participants each use one guide to identify fossils. Geology and paleontology professionals also identify fossils for comparison. Comparing results reveals that photographic images, either color or grayscale, produce results most similar to data from professionals.