User centered design of a citizen science air-quality monitoring project

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Technological developments, social networking and the emergence of sensory micro-computation platforms have facilitated the recent growth of citizen science-public participation in scientific research. Citizen science provides lay audiences platforms for data collection and classification alongside access to large scientific databases. Although these platforms are intended for non-experts, they are often designed by scientists, who may not fully appreciate their importance. This may result in platforms that are incompatible with users’ needs and thus underused. This article describes the use of Human Computer Interactions (HCI) in a citizen science project for monitoring air-quality in the local environment. Using interviews, focus groups, questionnaires and log data from the project website (n = 138), in a three-phase iterative process, we identified public requirments from an online data presentation platform. The findings suggest participants were interested in real time, local, easy to understand information, which is practical, ready-to-use and presented in the context. These insights were implemented in the design of a new platform, constructed as a simple three-layer information display with representations of air-quality standards and practical recommendations. We examine participants’ use of the platform and discuss motivations and impediments to participation in the future design of citizen science projects for enhancing public engagement in science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-213
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • User centered design
  • air quality
  • citizen science
  • public engagement with science

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Communication


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