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The rapid growth and increasing popularity of smartphone technology is putting sophisticated data-collection tools in the hands of more and more citizens. This has exciting implications for the expanding field of citizen science. With smartphone-based applications (apps), it is now increasingly practical to remotely acquire high quality citizen-submitted data at a fraction of the cost of a traditional study. Yet, one impediment to citizen science projects is the question of how to train participants. The traditional “in-person” training model, while effective, can be cost prohibitive as the spatial scale of a project increases. To explore possible solutions, we analyze three training models: 1) in-person, 2) app-based video, and 3) app-based text/images in the context of invasive plant identification in Massachusetts. Encouragingly, we find that participants who received video training were as successful at invasive plant identification as those trained in-person, while those receiving just text/images were less successful. This finding has implications for a variety of citizen science projects that need alternative methods to effectively train participants when in-person training is impractical. This file is the raw data that accompanies the PLoS article.
invasive plant identification
Environmental Sciences | Natural Resources and Conservation
Starr, Jared; Schweik, Charles M.; Bush, Nathan; Fletcher, Lena; Finn, John T.; Fish, Jennifer; and Bargeron, Charles T., "Lights, Camera...Citizen Science: Assessing the Effectiveness of Smartphone-based Video Training in Invasive Plant Identification dataset" (2014). Environmental Conservation Datasets. 1.