The CloudResearch MTurk Toolkit Is Now Compatible With AWS Billing

Aaron Moss, PhD

Amazon recently announced that Mechanical Turk users can opt into Amazon Web Services (AWS) Billing. What this means is that rather than purchase prepaid HITs on Mechanical Turk, you can have invoices issued at the end of each month, effectively moving MTurk from a pre-payment to post-payment model. CloudResearch is pleased to announce that we have configured our MTurk Toolkit to make this feature functional for researchers who wish to opt into it.

How Do I Turn On AWS Billing?

If you use CloudResearch to conduct MTurk surveys, you created an AWS account and linked it to your MTurk requester account while setting up your CloudResearch account. If you are certain you do not have an AWS account or you are new to CloudResearch, you can find information for creating and linking accounts here.

Once your AWS account is linked to your MTurk requester account, turning on AWS Billing is easy. From your MTurk account page, you can see the AWS Billing option in the header menu. Clicking this option will display the page below with the option to enable AWS Billing. Importantly, once you opt into AWS Billing, you cannot revert back to pre-paying for HITs.    

Once you’ve turned AWS Billing on, you should update your account settings on CloudResearch. By navigating to the account settings page, you will see a new MTurk Billing option. Simply change the billing option from Prepaid HITs to AWS Billing. You will now be able to launch MTurk Toolkit studies without having to prepay for the Amazon portion of your study.

What About Funding My CloudResearch Account?

AWS Billing does not affect how you pay for the CloudResearch portion of your studies. To launch studies that incur fees from CloudResearch either for Pro Features or Demographic targeting, you will need to fund your Lab Balance. If transitioning to a post-payment model for the CloudResearch portion of your study is something you are interested in, let us know in our suggestion box or contact us at 

What Does It Mean to Turn On AWS Billing?

Amazon Web Services offers IT infrastructure to businesses. Most social scientists who use Mechanical Turk for research have little need for AWS solutions, but AWS Billing may simplify paying for MTurk surveys. 

According to Mechanical Turk’s FAQ page, opting into AWS Billing has three benefits. 

  • AWS Billing eliminates the need to purchase prepaid HITs before running your study.
  • With AWS Billing you can create an organizational account that consolidates the billing for multiple individual MTurk requester accounts into one organizational invoice. This may be helpful for research labs with multiple MTurk requester accounts.
  • AWS Billing issues invoices once a month and researchers have access to their entire transaction history.

If you choose to use AWS Billing, a simple update to your CloudResearch account will allow you to launch studies on MTurk without having to prepay for the MTurk portion of your study.

Requesting Refunds for Pre-Paid HITs Already Purchased on MTurk

MTurk has informed us that when a user switches from Pre-Pay to AWS Billing, the unused funds in their MTurk account will be refunded to them within 2-3 weeks. There may also be a short transition time while their accounts move from Pre-Pay to AWS Billing.

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