Crowdsourcing Collaboration Information Content Concept

Ethics & Human Research

Rationale and Study Checklist for Ethical Rejection of Participants on Crowdsourcing Research Platforms

ABSTRACT Online participant recruitment (“crowdsourcing”) platforms are increasingly being used for research stud­ies. While such platforms can rapidly provide access to large samples, there are concomitant concerns around data qual­ity. Researchers have studied and demonstrated means to reduce the prevalence of low-quality data from crowdsourcing platforms, but approaches to doing so often involve rejecting work and/or denying payment to participants, which can pose ethical dilemmas. We write this essay as an associate professor and two institutional review board (IRB) directors to provide a perspective on the competing interests of participants/workers and researchers and to propose a checklist of steps that we believe may support workers’ agency on the platform and lessen instances of unfair consequences to them while enabling researchers to definitively reject lower-quality work that might otherwise reduce the likelihood of their studies producing true results. We encourage further, explicit discussion of these issues among academics and among IRBs.

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