University employees ‘as good as’ Turkers?

That’s the conclusion from this study that states:

“For applications where a representative sample is unattainable and student samples provide too little variation on key characteristics, staff members provide an inexpensive alternative that offers greater statistical leverage and the ability to detect conditional treatment effects.”

It warns, however, that university employees like to get paid, they don’t like contributions to charity. Also, employees are subject to ‘overfishing’ since they tend to stick around for a long time (the researchers’ term, not mine).

The sampling frame was 6000 employees, randomly assigned to one of three conditions:

  1. a lottery (10 people win $25)
  2. $5 donation to a charity per response (max $250)
  3. No incentive

Response/retention rates (people who actually finished the survey) were 20.4% for #1, 14.6% for #2 and 16.7% for #3.

The survey took about ten minutes.

I’m not sure about this. There may be some geographic biases at work, as well as attempts to give answers the researchers want.

A Convenient Truth: University Employees as Heterogeneous and Inexpensive Experimental Samples
D Kelly, L Vidal, BC Burden – Social Science Quarterly, 2016

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