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A TEAM headed by an economist at the University of Portsmouth has won £750,000 to establish why people give up their time to help scientists better understand some of the biggest mysteries.

Dr Joe Cox, of the Portsmouth Business School, will lead a team from Oxford, Manchester and Leeds Universities and colleagues from Portsmouth’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, to find out more about the people who volunteer to help online science projects.

This could be searching for the cure for cancer or trying to understand the galaxies that fill our universe.

The grant for the three-year project was awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of the Research Council’s UK digital economy theme.

Dr Cox said: ‘Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world are giving their time to help find a cure for cancer, or patterns of global warming, but we don’t yet have a detailed understanding of the processes that drive these initiatives.

‘This grant will allow us to formulate new economic models to explain the choices, motivations and behaviours of digital volunteers.’