I missed the Planet Money episode on MTurk, and I haven’t found time to listen to it online, but let’s see what the Internets have to say about it, especially relative to academic research.
Chris Kavanaugh on his blog does a great job raising some interesting points—the site is too hard for Planet Money journalists to navigate, the journalists break some rules, and the journalists seemed to not get the requirements aspect of HITS. Chris includes this important insight at the end of the post:
It is also worth noting that while MTurkers are a varied bunch and do seem more representative than the standard university student convenience sample, there is an inevitable skew, specifically to those who are internet savvy and not entirely economically stable (a position with which I have much personal sympathy). Regardless I still think MTurk is still a very valuable research environment but the current lax regulations means that it is incumbent on researchers/businesses to self-police and insure that they are paying a fair amount to their ‘workers’.
I’m working on a piece about how our (academic) self-regulation (human subjects) really isn’t working the way it should, specifically about payment, including paying a fair wage and paying for work when an individual is screened out. Stay tuned for that.
Edited to correct the spelling of Chris’ last name. He’s a very nice guy, btw.