Project 2463: M. A. O'Leary, K. Alphonse, M. Arce Hernandez, D. Cavaliere, A. Cirranello, T. Dietterich, M. Julius, S. Kaufman, E. Law, M. Passarotti, A. Reft, J. Robalino, N. B. Simmons, S. Smith, D. Stevenson, E. Theriot, P. M. Velazco, R. Walls, M. Yu, M. Daly. 2018. Crowds replicate performance of scientific experts scoring phylogenetic matrices of phenotypes. Systematic Biology. 67 (1):49-60.
Specimen: Lilium speciosum
View: flower

Abstract

Scientists building the Tree of Life face an overwhelming challenge to categorize phenotypes (e.g., anatomy, physiology) from millions of living and fossil species. This biodiversity challenge far outstrips the capacities of trained scientific experts. Here we explore whether crowdsourcing can be used to collect matrix data on a large scale with the participation of the non-expert students, or “citizen scientists.” Crowdsourcing, or data collection by non-experts, frequently via the internet, has enabled scientists to tackle some large-scale data collection challenges too massive for individuals or scientific teams alone. The quality of work by non-expert crowds is, however, often questioned and little data has been collected on how such crowds perform on complex tasks such as phylogenetic character coding. We studied a crowd of over 600 non-experts, and found that they could use images to identify anatomical similarity (hypotheses of homology) with an average accuracy of 82% compared to scores provided by experts in the field. This performance pattern held across the Tree of Life, from protists to vertebrates. We introduce a procedure that predicts the difficulty of each character and that can be used to assign harder characters to experts and easier characters to a non-expert crowd for scoring. We test this procedure in a controlled experiment comparing crowd scores to those of experts and show that crowds can produce matrices with over 90% of cells scored correctly while reducing the number of cells to be scored by experts by 50%. Preparation time, including image collection and processing, for a crowdsourcing experiment is significant, and does not currently save time of scientific experts overall. However, if innovations in automation or robotics can reduce such effort, then large-scale implementation of our method could greatly increase the collective scientific knowledge of species phenotypes for phylogenetic tree building. For the field of crowdsourcing, we provide a rare study with ground truth, or an experimental control that many studies lack, and contribute new methods on how to coordinate the work of experts and non-experts. We show that there are important instances in which crowd consensus is not a good proxy for correctness.


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Article DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/sysbio/syx052

Project DOI: 10.7934/P2463, http://dx.doi.org/10.7934/P2463
This project containsMatrices
  • 254 Media
  • 1 Matrix
  • 1 Document
  • 20 Taxa
  • 56 Specimens
  • 5 Characters
Total size of project's media files: 1.1G

Download Project SDD File
Total scored cells: 98
Total media associated with cells: 100
Total labels associated with cell media: 3
Characters
Total characters: 5
Total characters with associated media: 5
Total characters with media with labels: 0
Total character states: 15
Total character states with associated media: 15
Total character states with media with labels:0
Total unordered/ordered characters:5/0
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MorphoBank Project 2463

    This research
    supported by

    Authors' Institutions

    • Ohio State University

    • Oregon State University

    • University of Arizona

    • University of Michigan

    • University of Texas at Austin

    • University of Waterloo

    • American Museum of Natural History

    • Drexel University

    • Kenx Technology Inc

    • New York Botanical Garden

    • St. Cloud State University

    • Stony Brook University

    • Whirl-i-gig

    • College of William and Mary

    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute



    Members

    member name taxa specimens media chars character
    media
    labels
    cell scorings
    (scored, NPA, "-")
    cell
    medialabels
    rules
    Ramona Walls
    Project Administrator
    2056254520098
    (98, 0, 0)
    10030
    Dario Cavaliere
    Full membership
    0000000
    (0, 0, 0)
    000
    Maureen O'Leary
    Full membership
    0000000
    (0, 0, 0)
    000
    Selena Smith
    Observer
    0000000
    (0, 0, 0)
    000
    Dennis Stevenson
    Full membership
    0000000
    (0, 0, 0)
    000


    Taxonomic Overview for Matrix 'M24092' (20 Taxa)

    taxon unscored
    cells
    scored
    cells
    no cell
    support
    NPA
    cells
    "-" cellscell images labels on
    cell images
    member
    access
    [1] Lapageria rosea
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500053none
    [2] Drymophila moorei
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [3] Alstroemeria pelegrina
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    1400050none
    [4] Schelhammera multiflora
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [5] Drymophila cyanocarpa
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [6] Paris quadrifolia
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [7] Tricyrtis formosana
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [8] Erythronium japonicum
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    1400050none
    [9] Alstroemeria aurentiaca
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [10] Calochortus apiculatus
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [11] Clintonia borealis
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [12] Erythronium americanum
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [13] Heterosmilax gaudichaudiana
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [14] Lilium martagon
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [15] Lilium speciosum
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [16] Philesia magellanica
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [17] Ripogonum album
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [18] Smilax herbacea
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [19] Streptopus streptopoides japonica
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none
    [20] Veratrum album oxysepalum
    Last Modified in 06/29/16
    0500050none


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    Total project views52682
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    Matrix views670Matrix landing page (613 views); monocot floral characters for crowd sourcing (57 views);
    Project overview1279
    Taxon list4310
    Specimen list13408
    Views for media list1138
    Documents list548
    Bibliography405




    Project downloads

    type number of downloads Individual items downloaded (where applicable)
    Total downloads from project144
    Project downloads141
    Document downloads1Supplementary Material (1 download);
    Matrix downloads1monocot floral characters for crowd sourcing (1 download);
    Media downloads1M424078 (1 download);