A Design Theory for Crowdsourcing Cultural Heritage

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How to support participation and quality contribution on websites for
crowdsourcing cultural heritage
National Digital Forum 2015 conference, 13-14 October 2015, Wellington, New Zealand
Presentation (PDF)

Research abstract

Widespread digitisation of cultural heritage collections has done much to enhance basic access, but the usefulness of these online collections is often limited. Consequently, an increasing number of cultural heritage institutions and academic researchers are crowdsourcing to enhance online cultural heritage collections, and engage the wider community. While the potential benefits of crowdsourcing cultural heritage (CCH) are significant, it presents several challenges for crowdsourcers.

The influence of website design and content on recruiting and retaining a crowd, and supporting quality contribution is widely acknowledged; however websites for CCH can be complex to design and expensive to create, and many project teams are challenged by limited time, resources, expertise and design guidance. CCH practitioners and researchers have identified the need for a better understanding of design best practice, and toolkits and evaluation techniques to support it.

Research in Information Systems (IS) and human-computer interaction (HCI) has shown that specialised design principles are an effective and efficient tool to support website design and evaluation. Studies recommend augmenting design principles with information that facilitates deeper contextual understanding, and supports application of the principles in practice. Despite evidence of CCH practitioners and researchers using specialised design principles, there are ongoing calls for more research.

IS research suggests that a goal-oriented, principles-based Information Systems Design Theory (ISDT) could provide a more comprehensive solution to the research problem than specialised design principles alone. The aim of my research was to build an ISDT or “toolkit” to guide the design and evaluation of websites for crowdsourcing cultural heritage.

I used multiple research methods to develop the ISDT, including literature reviews; inspections of a purposive sample of twenty websites for CCH; an online questionnaire completed by 251 prospective, former, and current CCH volunteers; and review by seven CCH practitioners. The study was guided by Hevner et al.’s (2004) guidelines for Design Science research, and the ISDT ontology developed by Gregor and Jones (2007).