Visual Materials for Participatory Sciences

Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) training materials—a citizen science project based at the University of Washington’s College of the Environment.


vernacular visualizations, citizen science, heuristics, data management, biodiversity, public engagement in science, public engagement with environmental data

Research Team
Jaime Snyder (PI)
Julia Parrish (Co-PI)
Clarita Lefthand Begay
Jackie Lindsay
Turam Purty
Yubing Tian

Hillary Burgess
Seth Williams
Siddharth Naik


Jaime Snyder (PI) and Julia Parrish (Co-PI), “HCC: Medium: Grounded Visualization Design to Support Community-Engaged Biodiversity Identification,” Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (#TBD). $900,000. 09/2023-08/2026.

Turam Purty (Student award), NSF Comotion Customer Discovery Award, University of Washington, 2019 – 2020.

Turam Purty (PhD Student award), European Union – WeObserve Summer Innovation Grant (2020)

Turam Purty (PhD Student award) Anecdata Research Fellowship Award, 2020 – 2021.

Related Publications
Jaime Snyder (2017). “Vernacular Visualization Practices in a Citizen Science Project.” In Proc of the 2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW ’17). ACM, NY, NY, pp. 2097–2111. DOI:10.1145/2998181.2998239.

Turam Purty, Jaime Snyder, A. Nettar, E. Fortin (2021). “Sarjom Project, A Collaborative Vision for a Sustainable Planet That Connects Citizen Science Stakeholders Across Four Dimensions with Open Data,” Proceedings of the 2021 CitSciVirtual Citizen Science Association Conference (CitSciVirtual).

Grounded Visualization Design (GVD)

The research enhances the visual data collection capabilities of the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) with a focus on expanding its biodiversity identification across diverse marine ecosystems. The project involves creating visual tools to aid non-technical public volunteers in accurately collecting and engaging with biodiversity data. The project employs a three-phase Grounded Visualization Design (GVD) process, that involves a context study, co-design of identification materials, and an appropriation study to evaluate the effectiveness of these tools in citizen science. The goal is to develop an interactive prototype for identifying beach-cast marine mammals and to understand how people utilize these visual aids. This approach contributes to broader knowledge in designing visualization materials for large-scale monitoring projects in participatory sciences.

Vernacular Visualizations

This research investigates vernacular visualizations—which are visual representations of information created by and for non-expert users, in contrast to those developed by experts for specialized audiences. Our research projects look at everyday visualization design practices to get a deeper understanding of non-expert design practices that can positively impact technology development in participatory sciences.

Findings from this research (1) map visualization practices in an established citizen science project, (2) contribute to theoretical understanding of the ways in which vernacular visualization practices support data-rich collaborative and coordinated work, and (3) suggest ways in which visualizations and visual resources can be evaluated in terms of their abilities to enrich coordination and communication in these contexts.

Usability Heuristics in Participatory Sciences

This study pioneers a practical approach for adapting and translating interdisciplinary knowledge, specifically focusing on “usability self-assessment,” to enhance usability and engagement in participatory science projects. The research outlines a cost-effective and efficient methodology, enabling practitioners to systematically evaluate and identify both the strengths and potential areas of enhancement in their online digital resources using heuristic guidelines adapted for projects in participatory sciences. Click here to know more.