A crowdsourcing framework for stakeholder engagement in funding agency call processes
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Public research funding agencies have sought to better involve the general public and other stakeholders in their competitive processes for the allocation of research funding. Such efforts result from the worldwide push towards open science which promotes concepts such as transparency over processes and the involvement/education of diverse stakeholders. One such means by which public research funding agencies have sought to involve diverse stakeholders is through the use of crowdsourcing. However, limited research exists into the use of crowdsourcing by public research funding agencies. Furthermore, as public sector organisations, public research funding agencies face challenges in adopting the use of processes originally designed for the use by the private sector. Evidence shows that public research funding agencies are using commercial crowdsourcing platforms and processes which are not bespoke for their purposes. Numerous challenges are faced by public research finding agencies who seek to use crowdsourcing. First, the crowdsourcing concept has yet to reach maturity, with ambiguity as to what practices form part of the crowdsourcing phenomenon. Second, many existing crowdsourcing frameworks do not bear application to public sector organisations such as public research funding agencies. Third, challenges faced by public research funding agencies in open call processes are not fully understood. Fourth, existing crowdsourcing frameworks do not provide a practical guide for funding agencies as to how to deploy crowdsourcing processes. Last, existing research does not offer guidance for public research funding agencies in the development of science policy surrounding the use of crowdsourcing. To address this gap in the research, an in depth examination of crowdsourcing and its constituent practices was conducted. A crowdsourcing framework was selected and adapted for the purposes of application to public research funding agency call processes. The crowdsourcing framework was applied to data provided by two groups of experts covering the domains of crowdsourcing and research funding. This was completed for the purpose of identifying new practices for use. Thereafter, the crowdsourcing framework was applied to call processes in two public research funding agencies. This study makes several contributions to both research and practice. First, the study advances a first-of-a-kind crowdsourcing framework adapted for use in public funding agency call processes. Also, this study provides a substantial reflection on crowdsourcing and its constituent practices. The research identified new categories of practices for use by public research funding agencies in accessing crowds. The framework provides practical guidance as to why, when and how crowdsourcing practices can be used. Also, the study provides a series of recommendations for public research funding agencies in the development of science policy. Last, recommendations for future research are presented and the limitations of this research are discussed.
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