It is often the case in Citizen Science Apps that participants have different levels of experience, tools, or knowledge levels. Examples of this can emerge in many research topics, from experts on species classification to people with measuring equipment. With the new SPOTTERON platform feature "User Roles," we have created the basis for an extendable system to set up different kinds of participant levels in a Citizen Science App.
At its core, the new User Roles feature enables the configuration of input options based on a user group level. Different input fields can be set up in a way that they appear only for the expertise level they are targeted for. To elaborate on the examples above, this could mean that in a Citizen Science App, a user from a "Beginner" level can only see easy-to-use data options, while an "Expert" can add additional values, observations, and data fields to a single spot.
Other possibilities of this flexible system are that in a project, there can be "Scientists" being able to add comprehensive data to observations or that "Workshop Participants" have additional fields, e.g., inputting data from measurement devices they have just learned about in a workshop.
With the "User Roles" feature, it is also possible to design a project in a way to have regular users who can add a general observation category and become advanced users, later on, enabling learning benefits and data quality through user progression.
At the first login in a Citizen Science App, a dialog pops up, which offers the freshly joined participant a button for each available user role in the project. After selecting a role, the user has access to the input options and fields connected to that user role.
Some projects need a little less free choice - especially if user roles unlock options that need higher expertise or are for particular defined groups of participants in the App. We have implemented a basic PIN Code system for such a case, allowing us to set an alphanumeric PIN. The project partner can disseminate this to the people who should have access to advanced options.
With the User Roles System in place, Citizen Science projects can now apply a multi-level dimension to user participation. Our Citizen Science design team stands ready to support your project and implement User Roles in your App for both existing projects on the platform as well as new ones starting on SPOTTERON.