Visual Materials for Citizen Science

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).

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 citizen science 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 citizen science.

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.

Citizen Science Heuristics

Digital technologies, such as websites and mobile phone apps, have become integral to a citizen science practice. Organizations, volunteers, and project managers increasingly leverage digital tools to support important tasks such as delivering training material, reaching wider communities of participants, and supporting more efficient data collection and verification efforts. Our current research develops a framework for self-assessing the usability of digital tools for citizen science.

Take our Citizen Science Self – Assessment Study (2023) to contribute to our ongoing research in developing a heuristics based assessment tool that can help assist citizen science project managers and practitioners in identifying strengths and areas for improvement in their online digital resources. 

Digital Data Management in Citizen Science

Citizen Science datasets collected by organizations, projects, and researchers all over the world move through different hardware devices, data collection platforms, websites and tools, and eventually to publication of research.

One of the key areas of our research is exploring the development of human-centric features, interactions, and visualizations to enhance community engagement and learnings across a broad set of citizen science projects.