MTurk: only for conference papers?

Recently overheard at a conference: “There are so many problems with MTurk. Maybe it is OK for a conference paper, but not for a journal.”

Spoken by: someone who gets big bucks for pharmaceutical research funding, and conducts everything via an expensive panel.

There are so many things wrong with these two sentences spoken by a pretty well known scholar in my field, but let’s just focus on one: the role of academic conferences.  Yes, hopefully yours is in a fun place and your unit has funding to allow you to go. But beyond that, academic conferences serve several purposes–and every conference is different.

This post is one of many that talk about the benefits of conferences; my favorite quote is “Of course, it is important to have something presentable.” And what do we mean by presentable? For me, ‘something presentable’ means something that is accepted by a conference and that, at some point in time, will be acceptable for a journal. To do a presentation of research that ends at a conference is not a good use of my time, unless there are other compelling reasons for attending the conference (e.g. it is in New Zealand). And for younger scholars, if your unit is like mine, we examine closely the degree to which conference papers were then accepted into journals. If there’s a lot of conferences but no journals, that isn’t good.

So what this leads me to conclude is that if MTurk is ‘good enough’ for a conference, then it is ‘good enough’ for a journal. My colleague’s comment serves to diminish the value of both MTurk and academic conferences, and that’s not right.

PS: I sent the person who made the comment a flyer for our new book about MTurk and recommended it be forwarded to the person’s library for purchase consideration. ABC my friends–always be closing!

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