A Guide to Using MTurk to Distribute a Survey or Experimental Instrument

32 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2015 Last revised: 30 Nov 2015

Date Written: October 2015


Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is becoming a major outlet for social science research. Despite an increasing number of researchers using MTurk, this system was not designed for carrying out behavioral research. Thus, researchers using MTurk must overcome the inherent limitations of the system when using it for research purposes. This paper provides a roadmap for researchers wanting to use MTurk for distributing surveys or experiments, in light of its limitations as a research tool. Specifically, this paper provides the requisite knowledge to setup MTurk as a distribution portal, identifies pitfalls associated with using MTurk for research, as well as discusses more advanced techniques such as accessing target populations with MTurk’s general population. Further, this paper discusses external considerations that may require researchers to alter their surveys or experiments to facilitate use with MTurk.

Keywords: Amazon Mechanical Turk, MTurk; surveys, experiments, social science research, validation procedures, HTML, JAVA, requester, worker, HIT

JEL Classification: C91, C99, M41, M49

Suggested Citation

Hunt, Nicholas, A Guide to Using MTurk to Distribute a Survey or Experimental Instrument (October 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2664339 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2664339

Nicholas Hunt (Contact Author)

University of Nevada, Reno ( email )

United States

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