Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Museum and Field Studies

First Advisor

Robert Guralnick

Second Advisor

Alexandra Rose

Third Advisor

Caitlin Rumery


In order to determine citizen scientists' motivations, we must first understand the constituent parts of what we are examining. Understanding these motivations will help those developing citizen science projects to better direct their efforts related to recruitment and retention of volunteers. The work presented in this thesis provides a method to evaluate these volunteers' motivations. It develops a general course of action that can be used broadly, and focuses on testing key hypotheses based on the previous literature. In order to frame the work here, I will first provide an overview of citizen science as a discipline: what it is, where it came from, types of projects, and its general aims. Then, I will turn to the long history of motivation evaluation, focusing on relevant theories of behavioral analysis. I will follow these two separate strands to their intersection - motivation evaluation in the specific context of citizen science. This is a yet unstudied area which needs to be addressed, and this work is predicated on the idea that volunteer motivation is one of the more important aspects of the developing field of citizen science. The crux of this work lies in ascertaining citizen scientists' motivations in order to better understand volunteers.