CloudResearch is Changing the Fees on the MTurk Toolkit

Aaron Moss, PhD

Since 2015, CloudResearch has offered a suite of tools that simplify, improve, and expand upon the capabilities of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. We call these tools the MTurk Toolkit.

Beginning August 1, 2023, the CloudResearch fee for using our MTurk Toolkit will change from 10% of whatever you pay participants to 20%. 

Why We Are Changing the Fee for the Mechanical Turk Toolkit

We’re changing the fee for our MTurk Toolkit because of the time and resources our team must invest to make MTurk a viable option for online data collection. 

Since 2018 Mechanical Turk has faced serious issues with people outside of the U.S.—and outside of most researchers target population—infiltrating studies and providing low-quality data. CloudResearch started vetting people on MTurk in 2020 and made a CloudResearch Approved group of participants available to researchers. 

Over time, data quality on MTurk has gotten worse. In a paper published last year, we reported that of the 165,000 accounts we had vetted through the middle of 2022, almost 40% showed evidence of fraud or inattention. While our CloudResearch Approved group can be used to gather high-quality data on MTurk, maintaining and growing this list requires significant resources from our team. For example, since 2020, we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to conduct our vetting surveys alone.

Another issue that demands significant resources from our team is responding to billing changes on MTurk. In recent years, Amazon has made several changes to how researchers pay for MTurk studies. Initially, Amazon moved new MTurk accounts from a pre-payment system to Amazon Web Services (AWS) Billing. This change created problems for researchers who must prepay for studies. Later, Amazon imposed spending caps on the amount of pre-paid HITs that researchers could purchase per day, and most recently announced in emails to users that the option to pre-pay for studies will no longer exist for any user beginning August 30th, 2023. 

Each change to the MTurk billing process has required time from our team in customer support. Thus, because of the issues with both data quality and customer support, we’re changing the fees on our MTurk Toolkit. Researchers who wish to sample from MTurk, can use our Toolkit to make doing so easier and to improve data quality. For researchers who are looking for a more cost-effective and higher-quality solution, we recommend Connect. The fee increase impacting the MTurk Toolkit does not apply to Connect.

CloudResearch Connect: An Alternative To Mechanical Turk

In July of 2022, we launched our own participant recruitment platform, called Connect. Connect was developed based on the extensive experience the CloudResearch team has acquired from years of working in the online research space. Notably, CloudResearch independently sources its Connect participants–they don’t come from MTurk. By having full control over the participant pool, we are able to deliver the highest data quality at the lowest cost on Connect.

Data quality on Connect starts with a rigorous onboarding process designed to detect fraud and other bad actors. Once participants are on our site, we continue to monitor for suspicious activity, conduct our own data quality surveys, and incorporate researcher feedback from rejections and data quality flags to identify and intervene when issues occur. The result of our process is excellent data quality in both open- and closed-ended questions.

Another feature of Connect is our simple user interface. We’ve designed Connect so that it is easy for anyone to use, regardless of experience level. We’ve also included several features other platforms lack like our Teams tools for collaboration across labs, teams, collaborators, and organizations. In addition, Connect offers researchers a pre-payment system with no restrictive spending limits, flexibility to meet nearly any financial arrangement your institution may require, and excellent customer support. 

Finally, for many people the best part of Connect may be its low cost. We charge 25% of whatever you pay participants, which is the lowest service fee in the industry. We do not charge for demographic targeting or Census Matched samples AND if you create an account by July 4th we will give you 30 days to run studies with 0 service fees. Together, this all means we charge less than other sites and deliver more!

Sign up for Connect or visit our website to learn more.

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