Article ID: CBB450321760

Crowdsourcing as a Tool for Research: Methodological, Fair, and Political Considerations (2020)


Crowdsourcing platforms are powerful tools for academic researchers. Proponents claim that crowdsourcing helps researchers quickly and affordably recruit enough human subjects with diverse backgrounds to generate significant statistical power, while critics raise concerns about unreliable data quality, labor exploitation, and unequal power dynamics between researchers and workers. We examine these concerns along three dimensions: methods, fairness, and politics. We find that researchers offer vastly different compensation rates for crowdsourced tasks, and address potential concerns about data validity by using platform-specific tools and user verification methods. Additionally, workers depend upon crowdsourcing platforms for a significant portion of their income, are motivated more by fear of losing access to work than by specific compensation rates, and are frustrated by a lack of transparency and occasional unfair treatment from job requesters. Finally, we discuss critical computing scholars’ proposals to address crowdsourcing’s problems, challenges with implementing these resolutions, and potential avenues for future research.

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Authors & Contributors
Vermeulen, Niki
Penders, Bart
Parker, John N.
Rayzberg, Margarita S.
Jacob, Marie-Andrée
Marisa G. Ruiz-Trejo
Science, Technology and Human Values
Social Studies of Science
Tapuya: Latin American Science, Technology and Society
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society
Engineering Studies
Harvard University Press
Technoscience; science and technology studies
Research methods
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
20th century
United States
Census of Marine Life (1999-2009)
Human Genome Project
Committee on Publication Ethics

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