Matthew Effects in Citizen Science

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk at conference or symposiumScience to science


In this session, we question whether CS holds up to its promise of a more inclusive science and society by asking which groups are most likely to participate in Citizen Science projects and how. The contribution builds on Merton’s (1968) idea of the Matthew effect, a dynamic of cumulative advantage where already powerful individuals/institutions accrue a disproportionate amount of rewards. Since then, studies have identified many ways in which effects of cumulative advantage in research play out at the level of article citations (Wang 2014), journals (Lariviére et al. 2010), institutions (Langfield et al. 2015), departments (Weakliem et al. 2012), and countries (Bonitz et al. 1999), as well as the individual attributes of researchers (Hofmänner 2011; Rossiter 1993). These effects operate across a range of scientific activities, including peer review (Squazzoni and Gandelli 2012), funding acquisition (Zhi and Meng 2016), and public engagement (Woods 2015). Matthew Effects might be at play in the (self)selection of Citizen Scientists. We will introduce the concept of the Matthew effect based on examples from academia, discuss the ways these issues are currently being addressed in the ON-MERRIT project, and ask participants to discuss their experiences with CS projects and possible (demographic) Matthew Effects. Which groups are active in Citizen Science, why, and which are not? What are possible implications for the potential of CS?
Period14 Oct 2020
Event titleCitizen Science SDG Conference: Knowledge for Change: A decade of Citizen Science (2020-2030) in supoort of the Sustainable Development Goals
Event typeConference
LocationBerlin, Germany
Degree of RecognitionInternational