Harnessing Agency for Efficacy: “Foldit” and Citizen Science

Authors: Ashley Rose Kelly (University of Waterloo) , Kate Maddalena (University of North Carolina Wilmington)

  • Harnessing Agency for Efficacy: “Foldit” and Citizen Science


    Harnessing Agency for Efficacy: “Foldit” and Citizen Science

    Authors: ,


Protein folding is an important area of research in bioinformatics and molecular biology. The process and product of protein folding concerns how proteins achieve their functional state. A particularly difficult area of protein folding is protein structure prediction. There are many possible ways a protein can fold, and this makes prediction difficult, even with the aid of computational approaches. Protein folding prediction requires significant human attention. Foldit, an online science game, provides an innovative approach to the problem by enlisting human beings to solve puzzles that correlate with protein folding possibilities. Such work aligns broadly with emerging trends in citizen science, where non-experts are enlisted for productive alliances. We examine Foldit, commonly looked at as a dynamic community, and suggest such communities actually have potential to be relatively static and to reproduce and maintain a set of power relations. We make this argument by combining perspectives from Rhetorical Genre Studies and Actor-Network Theory.

Keywords: genre theory, actor-network theory, rhetoric of science, rhetoric of technology, citizen science, Foldit

How to Cite:

Kelly, A. R. & Maddalena, K., (2015) “Harnessing Agency for Efficacy: “Foldit” and Citizen Science”, Poroi 11(1), 1-20. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2015 Ashely Rose Kelly and Kate Maddalena

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Published on
01 May 2015
Peer Reviewed
CC BY 4.0