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Using a Crowdsourcing Website to Study Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration

By: & Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases in Sociology
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In this case study, we discuss the benefits and challenges of using a popular crowdsourcing website—Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk)—to study the sensitive topic of intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration. After briefly introducing the study of IPV perpetration, we describe how researchers use MTurk to recruit study participants and administer surveys online. Issues of cost and inclusion criteria are considered, as well as how individuals become MTurk workers. We then focus on three major issues that promote or compromise data quality in studies that use MTurk: (1) representativeness of the sample, (2) social desirability bias, and (3) insufficient effort responding. Using examples from our studies of IPV perpetration, we illustrate each of these issues and also discuss strategies for addressing each of them. We conclude that despite the methodological challenges it raises, MTurk can provide researchers with a large sampling pool at relatively low cost for online data collection in studies of sensitive topics.

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