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On the Ethics of Crowdsourced Research

  • Vanessa Williamson (a1)
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.
Abstract

This article examines the ethics of crowdsourcing in social science research, with reference to my own experience using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. As these types of research tools become more common in scholarly work, we must acknowledge that many participants are not one-time respondents or even hobbyists. Many people work long hours completing surveys and other tasks for very low wages, relying on those incomes to meet their basic needs. I present my own experience of interviewing Mechanical Turk participants about their sources of income, and I offer recommendations to individual researchers, social science departments, and journal editors regarding the more ethical use of crowdsourcing.

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References
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Adda, Gilles, and Mariani, Joseph. 2010. “Language Resources and Amazon Mechanical Turk: Legal, Ethical and Other Issues.” In LISLR2010, “Legal Issues for Sharing Language Resources Workshop,” LREC2010. Malta, May 17.
Berinsky, Adam J., Huber, Gregory A., and Lenz, Gabriel S.. 2012. “Evaluating Online Labor Markets for Experimental Research: Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk.” Political Analysis 20 (3): 351–68.
Buhrmester, Michael, Kwang, Tracy, and Gosling, Samuel D.. 2011. “Amazon’s Mechanical Turk: A New Source of Inexpensive, Yet High-Quality, Data?” Perspectives on Psychological Science 6 (1): 35.
Chandler, Jesse, Mueller, Pam, and Paolacci, Gabriele. 2014. “Non-naïveté among Amazon Mechanical Turk Workers: Consequences and Solutions for Behavioral Researchers.” Behavior Research Methods 46 (1): 112–30.
Dickert, Neal, and Grady, Christine. 1999. “What’s the Price of a Research Subject? Approaches to Payment for Research Participation.” New England Journal of Medicine 341: 198203.
Fisher, Jill A. 2009. Medical Research for Hire: The Political Economy of Pharmaceutical Clinical Trials. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Fort, Karen, Adda, Gilles, and Cohen, K. Bretonnel. 2011. “Amazon Mechanical Turk: Gold Mine or Coal Mine?” The Association for Computational Linguistics 37 (2): 413–20.
Graber, M. A., and Graber, A.. 2013. “Internet-Based Crowdsourcing and Research Ethics: The Case for IRB Review.” Journal of Medical Ethics 39: 115–18.
Paolacci, Gabriele, Chandler, Jesse, and Ipeirotis, Panagiotis. 2010. “Running Experiments on Amazon Mechanical Turk.” Judgment and Decision Making 5 (5): 411–19.
Roosevelt, Theodore. 1919. Theodore Roosevelt, an Autobiography. New York: Macmillan.
Ross, Joel, Irani, Lilly, Silberman, M., Zaldivar, Andrew, and Tomlinson, Bill. 2010. “Who Are the Crowdworkers? Shifting Demographics in Amazon Mechanical Turk.” CHI’10 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 2863–72. ACM.
Schneider, Nathan. 2015. “Intellectual Piecework.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 16.
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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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A correction has been issued for this article: