Group 1: Disadvantages


    • Struggles with getting credited for the nature of participatory engagement work – to be recognized as scholarly output
    • Lack of training to organize a participatory engagement project, managing and mediating focus groups
    • Experts and Specialists feel threatened by being placed at the same level as the “non-academic”; undermining of authority, quality of competencies (i.e Wikipedia → expert participation was low at the beginning. Not the case so much today)

Cultural Institutions:

    • Curators, Experts, and Specialists feel threatened by being placed at the same level as the “non-academic”; undermining of authority, quality of competencies


  • Role: a carrier of knowledge and communication; the medium in which we work
    • Example: Letters 1916 – interactive visualizations for a large corpus. Difficult to do the visualizations in real time. The visualizations takes time (90 second lag), resource heavy. Ideal goal: Use the visualization for discovery
    • Vandalism/Abuse/Desecration within the project (considerable risk factor) → contributing users writing malicious content, hacking with nefarious intentions. Question of management and project design. Natural Language Processing to combat internet trolls  

Research Infrastructures:

  • How does the RI get accredited for the participatory work they do (i.e. bringing people together and facilitating knowledge exchange)?
  • If there is no participation how can RI exist and survive?

Group 4 Summary of Agents: Challenges

Data Visualizers

  • standards
  • output ends up in different location (not necessarily connected to participatory engagement activity)
  • source collection and volunteers aren’t always credited within presentation of data visualization output
  • “wow factor” of data visualization can overshadow the original participatory engagement activity

Web developers

  • understanding needs of project
  • communication
  • slightly different goal (focusing on coding of tool, not overall goal of the project)
  • host institution might not have opportunity to revisit design/code
  • continuity might not be possible if web development is project funded (not supported by ongoing in-house team)
  • data loss (software and tools become obsolete)

Expert in semantic technologies

  • data quality gap (whether content from volunteers meets starting/baseline standards)
  • data wrangling required to meet standards of semantic technologies


Dialect speakers

  • Linguistic
  • Very focused group (host institution might have to put in significant effort on tools)
  • Difficulty or disconnect between finding and matching the content for the dialect speakers

Digital natives, millennials

  • Does the content match with their interests
  • Does the activity work well on a phone ?  (Devices)
  • Project might be pulled to devote resources on user interface for millennials
  • Possibility of over-estimating the skills of digital natives

Small archives

  • Limited resources to implement, supervise and sustain the project
  • For this institution, possibly difficult to find active volunteers for participatory engagement

Whole community

  • Communicate with the whole community
  • Prioritize all the needs of the whole community
  • Serve needs of different components of the community
  • Customization of sources and projects to different members of the whole community


Group 3: Challenges

Software Development Companies

  • Negotiating permissions to access and reuse data (including time investment)
  • Ethics of using public data for profit
  • In the humanities, attributing information is an iterative process. Data in the humanities is not ‘certain’ or ‘perfect.’ Finding value in data which is not concrete.
  • Compatibility of business model
  • Different standards of data, different formats of artefacts; adjusting to them within a business model

Aggregating institutions

  • No common standards between institutions
  • Negotiating copyright laws
  • Ethical issues of collection
  • Sustainability (technical, economic, human)
  • Acknowledging contributions of the public


  • Working knowledge of subject and technology
  • Level of expertise might be barrier to participation
  • Design for student participation
  • Assess students’ learning
  • Assess quality of work

Disadvantaged communities

  • Access to technology
  • Awareness and reach
  • Understanding value in P.E. projects
  • No good examples of Universal Design in databases

Institutional mediators

  • Management of all stakeholders
  • Mediating heavily conflicting opinions (specifically through technology)
  • For the mediator, managing time; constantly monitoring work
  • Managing quality and authority of the work

Group 2 | The Challenges for Funding Bodies , Content Owners, Schools, Institutions and Volunteers

Funding Bodies:

  • No guarantees of success – risky thing to fund as there’s no guarantee that the public will interact
  • There are many external factors that could influence public participation
  • Can be very difficult to know how much money to award
  • Funding a project relies upon a deliverable, one that is sustainable

Content/story owners/originators:

  • Potential breach of privacy
  • Uncertainly over how content may be used or appropriated by a project
  • Loss of ownership  – the importance of the brand, that their contribution will be rewarded and appropriately acknowledged

School, educational institutes:

  • Unpredictability – for teachers who depend on a digital project for lesson planning, unforeseen consequences such as server outages, lack of new data, or breakdown in communication with the project staff, can have a dire impact
  • Anonymity for younger participants must take precedence over participant acknowledgment
  • Data protection – making the data protection officer aware of the information stored by the project
  • Where is the data stored and is it safe?
  • Access to the required technology – eg. pcs, laptops, etc
  • Shared resources – subscription or paywall issues in Third Level

Collecting institutions / repositories:

  • Issue of control, ownership
    • Issue of duplicates and copies, copyright control
    • Dissemination of legal copies without appropriate attribution
  • Challenge for institutions to engage with the wider public rather than a controlled group / challenges of dealing with the public as a partner in making your material available


  • Fear of making a mistake or doing the wrong thing / culpability
  • Competitive element to project may put off user engagement
  • Volunteer sense of purpose may be out of focus with that of the project
    • Leads to Volunteer frustration
  • Privacy – volunteers may not know what their information will be used for
  • Volunteers need to be made aware that their contributions will be used / their work is valid
  • Clear communications must be maintained with the public to allay their fears