Crowdsourcing: Improving the Quality of Scientific Data Through Social Networking

Dear colleague:

You are cordially invited to attend a public symposium on Crowdsourcing: Improving the Quality of Scientific Data Through Social Networking. The event is being organized by the National Research Council’s Board on Research Data and Information, and will be held on June 13 in Washington, DC at the Embassy Suites, 900 10th Street, NW. A formal invitation with the summary description of the symposium, the exact location, and RSVP instructions may be found below.

Please feel free to forward this invitation to others who you think may be interested. Registrations will be honored on a first-come-first-served basis. More complete information about the event and about the Board on Research Data and Information is available at:

Best wishes,

Paul F. Uhlir
Director, Board on Research Data and Information
puhlir [at] nas [dot] edu

Crowdsourcing: Improving the Quality of Scientific Data Through Social Networking


Organized by the
Board on Research Data and Information

National Research Council

Monday, June 13, 2011, 4:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.  
Embassy Suites, 900 10th Street, NW, Washington, DC
Crowdsourcing may be described as a distributed information production and problem-solving activity, today performed mostly online. The technique invites contributions on one or more specific issues or problems, either from a targeted group or the general public. Although there are many types of crowdsourcing applications in many sectors and businesses, the public research community has used the techniques extensively in recent years.
According to Wikipedia, itself a highly successful crowdsourcing initiative, there are many perceived benefits to this model (see; last visited May 27, 2011):
  • Various topics can be addressed at a low cost and usually quite rapidly, frequently with no payments to the contributors;
  • The organization doing the crowdsourcing can greatly broaden the potential contributions beyond its own employees and direct contacts;
  • The crowdsourcing activity may be able to provide the views of many prospective customers or other interested parties, and can initiate and develop relationships that would be difficult or impossible to initiate otherwise.
Different internet services can be used for online crowdsoucing, from traditional websites and emails, to social networking sites, such as Facebook. Because of the growing use and potential importance of this technique to various research applications, including the improvement of scientific information resources, the Board on Research Data and Information is holding a public symposium in the afternoon of Monday, June 13, beginning at 4:00 p.m. The symposium will explore some of the key issues underlying crowdsourcing, provide several compelling examples, and offer an opportunity for the audience to discuss this topic with a number of experts and practitioners. We are pleased to offer the following program, moderated by Prof. Michael Lesk of Rutgers University, and chair of the Board on Research Data and Information:
Roberta Balstad, Columbia University
The first crowdsourcing experiment: lessons learned
Gregory Phelan, State University of New York at Cortland
Use of crowdsourcing online in scientific research
Scott Hausman, NOAA National Climatic Data Center
Engaging the public in climate science: exploiting crowdsourcing to
digitize and analyze climate data
[Presenter TBD]
The GEO wiki project
Benjamin Heywood, CEO PatientsLikeMe (invited)
[Presentation title TBD]
Comment by Michael Keller, Stanford University and BRDI Member
Panel discussion of invited speakers and Board members
General discussion with the audience

The symposium is open to the public, but advance registration is requested
(contact: Cheryl Levey, clevey [at] nas [dot] edu).

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