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Amazon's Mechanical Turk for Academics


Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for Academics

The HIT Handbook for Social Science Research


 Are you considering using Amazon’s MTurk for your study? This is the book for you!



Amazon's Mechanical Turk for Academics



Kim Bartel Sheehan and Matthew Pittman (University of Oregon)

ISBN: 978-0-9786638-6-5

List Price:  US $29.95


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2016, 156 pages

Also available in a Kindle version - go to 

Mechanical Turk is Amazon’s crowdsourcing platform connecting online workers with people who have small tasks (called Human Information Tasks or HITS) for people to complete online. For academic researchers, Mechanical Turk provides access to thousands of potential research study participants. Data can be collected quickly and relatively inexpensively, and studies using data collected via Mechanical Turk have been published in dozens of academic journals in disciplines such as psychology, marketing, computer science, and communications.


Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for Academics is a valuable resource for researchers wishing to make the most out of MTurk.  Authors Kim Sheehan and Matthew Pittman provide a brief history of the service and describe both the workers and the researchers who are using MTurk so readers can identify if the platform will work for them. The authors then walk readers through the basics of setting up a study: from choosing a survey platform to obtaining IRB approvals to recruiting and paying respondents. 


Throughout the book, tips from a variety of researchers in different disciplines provide a level of insight that will make even the MTurk Newbies confident about conducting their first studies on the platform. Academic researchers will find themselves returning to the book for every new study they undertake.



As Reviewed in PsycCRITIQUES (May 2017)

“Sheehan and Pittman have written a great condensed guide to Mturk. The book is a

quick read with concise chapters packed with interesting information. Also, readers are

treated to a fair amount of information about crowdsourcing methods in general, including

some Mturk competitors (e.g., Qualtrics Panels). Frankly, no one should be using Mturk

without this book.”



Chapter 1  What Is Mechanical Turk?


Chapter 2  Who Are These Workers? Demographics of the MTurk Workforce


Chapter 3  Motivations and Reputations


Chapter 4  Requesters


Chapter 5  Setting Up a Survey on MTurk         


Chapter 6  Ensuring Data Quality


Chapter 7  Pricing Your HIT


Chapter 8  IRB and Human Subjects Approval


Chapter 9  Completing the Study: Accepting, Paying, Blocking, and Rejecting


Chapter 10  The Ethics of MTurk


Chapter 11  The Future of Research Using Crowdsourcing


Praise from Readers of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for Academics


“MTurk has been immensely helpful in securing quality samples for my research. This handy book is for all researchers who want to recruit respondents in a cost-effective manner. The guidelines put forth by the authors are easy to follow and can be quickly implemented."  (Sidharth Muralidharan, Southern Methodist University)

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for Academics is a must-read for any academic considering on-line data collection."  (Darrel D. Muehling, Washington State University)


"The Hit Handbook is a handy “how to” guide for social scientists seeking to acquire high quality data using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service. This thoughtful and well-written text helps researchers maximize their use of the platform while avoiding potentially critical mistakes. Although ostensibly written for academic researchers, this eminently useful manual is also appropriate for applied investigators." (Toby Hopp, University of Alabama)


"A great guide for novice and expert MTurk users, workers and requesters alike. I particularly enjoyed reading the forward-looking chapter on the future of crowdsourcing research." (Ioannis Kareklas, University at Albany-SUNY)