Prospects for Online Crowdsourcing of Social Science Research Tasks: A Case Study Using Amazon Mechanical Turk

16 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2014

Date Written: January 9, 2014

Abstract

While the internet has created new opportunities for research, managing the increased complexity of relationships and knowledge also creates challenges. Amazon.com has a Mechanical Turk service that allows people to crowdsource simple tasks for a nominal fee. The online workers may be anywhere in North America or India and range in ability. Social science researchers are only beginning to use this service. While researchers have used crowdsourcing to find research subjects or classify texts, we used Mechanical Turk to conduct a policy scan of local government websites. This article describes the process used to train and ensure quality of the policy scan. It also examines choices in the context of research ethics.

Keywords: Data collection, Crowdsourcing, Amazon.com, Policy analysis, Ethics

Suggested Citation

Schmitt-Sands, Catherine and Smith, Richard J., Prospects for Online Crowdsourcing of Social Science Research Tasks: A Case Study Using Amazon Mechanical Turk (January 9, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2377016 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2377016

Catherine Schmitt-Sands

Wayne State University ( email )

Detroit, MI 48202
United States

Richard J. Smith (Contact Author)

Wayne State University ( email )

5447 Woodward Avenue
School of Social Work
Detroit, MI 48202
United States
313-577-2262 (Phone)
313-577-8770 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://research.socialwork.wayne.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1341&Itemid=199

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