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Board on Research Data and Information
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Board on Research Data and Information
Policy and Global Affairs Division
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Phone: (202) 334-3049

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
Capital A Room (lower level)

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 (BRDI) 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 and BRDI Vice-Chair
The first crowdsourcing experiment: lessons learned
Gregory Phelan, State University of New York at Cortland
Scott Hausman, NOAA National Climatic Data Center
Leo Bottrill, World Wildlife Fund
David Clifford, Manager of Public Policy and Government Affairs, CEO PatientsLikeMe
Crowdsourcing information about diseases through PatientsLikeMe
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 free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested
(contact: Cheryl Levey, or call 202-334-1531).

The meeting will not be netcast, but a summary report will be available later in the year.