The Ethical Issues of Using Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) for Human Research

Lectures, talks and seminars

Rutherford House
23 Lambton Quay, Wellington, 6011, New Zealand
Room RHMZ05

Presented by


Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is an Internet-based platform operating as an online labour marketplace where those asking for work to be done (requesters) can locate those willing to do the work (workers). The work typically involves repeatable, short-duration tasks (microtasks) that can be completed and submitted online, with automated payment facilitated on completion. A relatively recent Pew research report (2016) noted the increasing trend to use MTurk to collect data for research purposes, across a range of disciplines, given the platform’s ability to identify potential participants who meet selection criteria.

However, there have also been corresponding concerns about the ethical issues raised using MTurk, given the type of platform governance and processes embedded within its use. This presentation outlines some of these concerns and how they might be addressed when applying for ethical approval to conduct research involving data collection through the use of MTurk.

Speaker Bios

David Johnstone is the Deputy Chair of the Pipitea Human Ethics Sub-committee. Most recently, he has been involved in research into the ethical issues involved with online platform governance.

For more information contact: Thushi Jayawardena-Willis