Are researchers too dependent on ‘commercial platforms’?

That’s the question raised in this article from the “Science” magazine website.

“Academic research would be really screwed if Amazon decided to shut it down,” says Todd Gureckis, a psychologist at New York University (NYU) in New York City.” But you know what? Academic research existed before MTurk existed and it will continue even after Amazon morphs into whatever it will morph to.

The article also talks about the ‘capture recapture’ method of estimating the size of the active Turker population.  An academic argues the ‘available pool’ for research subjects is only about 7300 at any given time–however, there needs to be more information such as ‘is this the same 7300 at 8am that it is at 3pm’.  And this is a statistic I haven’t heard: that half the pool turns over every 7 months (which would address some concerns with ‘professional’ workers, to some extent).

And it ends with this interesting quote:

“Some researchers wonder whether the giant company will keep MTurk going—or whether social scientists need to develop their own customized alternative. “At this point, MTurk has become so important for social science that the National Science Foundation should be negotiating directly with Amazon,” Gureckis says. “We’re subsidizing this service with millions of dollars in federal grant money.” ”




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