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Thread: Amazon’s Mechanical Turk has Reinvented Research

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    Amazon’s Mechanical Turk has Reinvented Research

    To my mind, it is this economic injustice—rather than methodological concerns—that should be of greatest concern to would-be MTurk researchers. Indeed, the exploitation of MTurk workers is already drawing scrutiny in a way that reflects poorly on the academic community. While academics may lament shrinking research funding and increased competition for grants, neither funding scarcity nor the importance of academic research are truly acceptable excuses for paying survey-takers rates that are often a tiny fraction of minimum wage.

    The good news is that it’s hardly an insuperable issue. Every MTurk task asks the requester to estimate how long their task will take; every completed task includes a report on how long the turner actually required in order to complete it. Researchers simply need to deploy a round of test surveys, calculate the actual time to complete each survey, and price their tasks so that their pay rate is at least equivalent to minimum wage. In my own MTurk surveys, I now price all tasks at the equivalent of at least 25 cents a minute, which averages out to the $15-per-hour that many labor activists now advocate as a reasonable minimum wage.

    It's all good.

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