Conducting Clinical Research Using Crowdsourced Convenience Samples

Publisher: Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, vol. 12
Mar 30, 2016
Jesse Chandler and Danielle Shapiro
Crowdsourcing has had a dramatic impact on the speed and scale at which scientific research can be conducted. Clinical scientists have particularly benefited from readily available research study participants and streamlined recruiting and payment systems afforded by Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), a popular labor market for crowdsourcing workers. MTurk has been used in this capacity for more than five years. The popularity and novelty of the platform have spurred numerous methodological investigations, making it the most studied nonprobability sample available to researchers. This article summarizes what is known about MTurk sample composition and data quality with an emphasis on findings relevant to clinical psychological research. It then addresses methodological issues with using MTurk—many of which are common to other nonprobability samples but unfamiliar to clinical science researchers—and suggests concrete steps to avoid these issues or minimize their impact.