Are you looking for a practical way to earn extra money online? Using Mechanical Turk for surveys might be the solution you need. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) platform offers a variety of tasks, but surveys are particularly popular due to their simplicity and decent pay rates. Whether you’re a student, a stay-at-home parent, or just someone looking to make some extra cash, surveys on MTurk can be a perfect fit.

In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about using Mechanical Turk for surveys. From setting up your account to selecting the highest-paying surveys, and getting more tasks, we’ll provide actionable tips and insights to help you succeed.

1. Understanding Mechanical Turk for Surveys

Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a crowdsourcing marketplace that connects businesses and researchers with a diverse pool of workers who complete various online tasks. These tasks, known as HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks), range from data entry and content moderation to surveys and research studies.

Why MTurk Surveys?

Surveys are a great way to earn a consistent income on MTurk without the monotony or high rejection risks associated with other types of tasks. They are particularly appealing for several reasons:

  • Ease of Completion: Surveys typically require basic skills such as reading comprehension and attention to detail. They are straightforward, making them accessible to almost anyone.
  • Flexibility: You can complete surveys at your convenience, making it easy to fit them into your schedule. Whether you have a few minutes or a few hours, there’s always a survey you can take.
  • Better Pay: Compared to other tasks on MTurk, surveys often offer better pay rates. While many HITs pay only a few cents, surveys can range from $1 to $15 each, depending on their length and complexity.

Benefits Of MTurk Surveys for Researchers and Businesses

For researchers and businesses, MTurk provides several benefits:

  • Rapid Data Collection: MTurk allows for the fast collection of survey responses from a large and diverse pool of workers. This speed can be crucial for research projects and market studies that require timely data​.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Utilizing MTurk can be more cost-effective than other survey distribution methods. The pay-per-task model allows researchers to manage their budgets efficiently while still obtaining high-quality data​​.
  • Global Reach: MTurk has a global workforce, though it is primarily U.S.-based. This diversity can help researchers obtain a wide range of perspectives and data points​​.
m turk survey icon with a dollar sign

2. Getting Started (For Income Seekers)

To start using Mechanical Turk for surveys, you’ll need to create a worker account on the platform. Follow these steps to get set up:

  • Sign Up: Visit the MTurk website. Click on “Get Started with Amazon Mechanical Turk” and then select “Create a Worker Account”​​.
  • Fill Out Your Information: Provide your personal information, including your name, email address, and payment details. Make sure to use accurate and complete information to avoid delays in account approval​​.
  • Profile Completion: Complete your profile by adding any necessary details and verifying your identity.
  • Approval Time: After submitting your application, it can take up to three business days for your account to be approved.

Navigating the Dashboard To Find Survey Tasks

Once your MTurk account is approved, you can start navigating the MTurk dashboard to find and accept survey tasks. Here’s a brief walkthrough:

  • Log In: Log in to your MTurk worker account.
  • Dashboard Overview: Familiarize yourself with the main sections of the dashboard. Key areas include the “HITs” tab, where you can find available tasks, and the “Dashboard” tab, where you can track your earnings and task history​​.
  • Finding Surveys: To find surveys, use the search bar or filters to look for HITs categorized under surveys. You can filter by pay rate, duration, and requesters to find the most suitable tasks for you​​.
  • Accepting HITs: Click on a survey task that interests you to view its details, including the pay rate and estimated completion time. If it looks good, click “Accept HIT” to start the task. Make sure to read any instructions carefully before beginning​.
  • Completing and Submitting: Complete the survey as instructed and submit your responses. Some surveys will require you to enter a completion code provided at the end of the survey to confirm your participation​.

3. Types of Surveys on MTurk

Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) hosts a variety of survey types, providing numerous opportunities for workers to participate in different fields of research and market studies. Understanding these categories can help you choose tasks that suit your interests and optimize your earnings.

A. Academic Surveys

Academic surveys constitute a significant portion of the tasks on MTurk. Researchers from universities often use the platform to collect data for their studies across various disciplines, such as psychology, marketing, political science, economics, and sociology​.

  • Psychology: These surveys often delve into human behavior, cognition, and emotions. Participants may be asked to complete questionnaires about personal experiences, partake in experiments, or engage in cognitive tasks​.
  • Marketing: Researchers in marketing analyze consumer behavior, preferences, and decision-making processes. Surveys in this area might involve evaluating advertisements, giving feedback on products, or making hypothetical purchasing decisions​​.
  • Social Sciences: This category includes surveys in sociology, political science, and economics, focusing on social behaviors, political opinions, and economic choices. Participants might be queried about their political views, social attitudes, or economic decisions in various scenarios​.

B. Market Research Surveys

Businesses utilize MTurk for market research to gain insights into consumer preferences and behaviors. These surveys aid companies in making informed decisions regarding product development, marketing strategies, and customer service enhancements​.

  • Consumer Insights: Companies conduct these surveys to understand customer needs and preferences. Questions might revolve around shopping habits, brand loyalty, and product satisfaction​​.
  • Product Testing: Before launching new products, businesses gather feedback on prototypes, packaging, and marketing materials. Participants might review product descriptions, evaluate prototypes, or provide opinions on branding concepts​​.
  • Ad Effectiveness: Businesses also test the effectiveness of their advertisements through MTurk. These surveys might involve viewing ads and providing feedback on their appeal, message clarity, and potential impact on purchasing decisions​.

4. Best Practices for Completing MTurk Surveys

To increase your earnings and maintain a good reputation on Mechanical Turk, it’s crucial to follow best practices when completing surveys. Let’s go through the key strategies to ensure accuracy and qualify for higher-paying tasks:

A. Attention to Detail

Paying attention to detail is essential to avoid rejections and maintain a high approval rating on MTurk. Here’s how you can achieve this:

  • Read Instructions Carefully: Thoroughly reading and understanding the survey instructions is vital. This helps in avoiding mistakes and ensures you know exactly what’s expected.
  • Attention Checks: Many surveys include attention check questions to verify that participants are paying attention. These questions are designed to catch inattentive respondents, so it’s important to answer them accurately to avoid disqualification.
  • Complete All Required Fields: Ensure that you fill out every mandatory field in the survey. Incomplete responses can lead to rejections and negatively affect your approval rating. Double-check your answers before submitting.
  • Consistency: Keep your answers consistent throughout the survey. Inconsistent responses can raise red flags for requesters and may lead to rejections or MTurk account suspensions.

B. Qualifying for Premium Survey Tasks

To access higher-paying tasks on MTurk, you need to qualify for premium tasks. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Complete a Variety of Tasks: Diversify the tasks you complete to build a strong profile. This experience can help you qualify for more advanced and better-paying HITs.
  • Achieve Qualifications: Many high-paying tasks require specific qualifications. You can request these qualifications or take tests to earn them. These might include a certain number of approved HITs, demographic criteria, or proficiency in specific task types.
  • Maintain a High Approval Rating: A high approval rating is crucial for gaining access to better tasks. Aim to keep your approval rating above 95% by focusing on accuracy and diligence in your work. High ratings increase your chances of being invited to premium tasks and long-term research projects.

5. Tools And Extensions Survey Takers Need

Utilizing the right tools and extensions can significantly enhance your experience on Mechanical Turk. They help streamline the survey process, track earnings, and find tasks more efficiently. Let’s get to know the best of these tools:

A. Residential IPs and Proxies

For those who use MTurk extensively or manage multiple accounts, using residential IPs and proxies can be beneficial:

  • Residential IPs for Surveys: Using residential survey IPs helps ensure that your survey responses appear as though they come from a real household. This can increase the likelihood of your participation being accepted by survey platforms that filter responses based on IP addresses.
  • Residential Proxies for MTurk: Residential amazon proxies can help you manage multiple MTurk accounts by providing different IP addresses for each account. This can prevent MTurk account suspensions and ensure that you can access tasks without geographical restrictions.

B. MTurk Suite

MTurk Suite is a comprehensive browser extension designed to optimize your MTurk workflow. Here are its key benefits:

  • Task Management: MTurk Suite allows you to easily find, accept, and track HITs. It features a HIT finder that helps you identify high-paying tasks quickly.
  • Earnings Tracker: The extension includes an earnings tracker that keeps a detailed record of your earnings, making it easy to monitor your progress and set goals.
  • Efficiency Tools: MTurk Suite comes with tools like HIT Catcher, which automatically accepts tasks that match your criteria, and Panda Crazy, which helps you manage multiple HITs at once.
icon symbolizing  how researchers collect survey answers online

6. Using Amazon Mechanical Turk for Data Collection With Surveys

Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a powerful tool for researchers looking to collect survey data efficiently and cost-effectively. Here are the steps for setting up and managing surveys on Mturk:

A. Setting Up Your Requester MTurk Account

  • Create a Requester Account:
    • Visit the MTurk website.
    • Click on “Get Started with Amazon Mechanical Turk” and select “Create a Requester Account.”
    • Provide your name, email address, and create a password. Follow the prompts to complete the registration​.
  • Verify Your Information:
    • Check your email for a verification code and enter it on the MTurk site to confirm your account.
    • Fill in additional information such as your company name and location. If MTurk is not available in your country, consider using a VPN to connect through a U.S. IP address​.

B. Preparing Your Survey

  • Design Your Survey Instrument:
    • Use survey tools like Qualtrics or SurveyMonkey to create your survey. Ensure your survey includes clear, concise questions relevant to your research.
    • Insert a completion code that participants will receive upon finishing the survey. This code is crucial for verifying valid responses on MTurk​​.
  • IRB Approval: If required by your institution, obtain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for your survey. This step ensures your research adheres to ethical standards​.

C. Setting Up Your Survey on MTurk

  • Log In to MTurk: Log in to your MTurk requester account and navigate to the dashboard.
  • Create a New Project:
    • Select “Create Project” and choose the type of task you are posting (e.g., survey, data collection).
    • Provide a clear description of your survey, including the purpose and estimated time for completion. Set a fair payment rate, to attract quality respondents.
  • Configure Survey Details:
    • Enter the survey link generated by your survey tool.
    • Specify the number of respondents you need. It is advisable to request 30-40% more responses than needed to account for data cleaning and invalid submissions​​.
  • Set Qualifications:
    • Use MTurk’s qualification settings to filter respondents. For example, you might restrict participation to users from specific countries or with a certain approval rating.
    • Consider setting up additional criteria like location or specific demographic information to target your desired audience.

After setting up your survey and starting data collection on Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), it’s important to follow best practices to ensure you gather high-quality data efficiently.

D. Enhancing Data Quality

  • Use of Validation Codes: Implement validation codes to verify that participants have completed the survey. This code is generated at the end of the survey and must be entered back on MTurk for respondents to receive payment​​.
  • Attention Checks:
    • Incorporate questions that verify whether respondents are paying attention. For instance, ask for their age and birth year, and cross-check for logical consistency.
    • Use simple math or logical questions scattered throughout the survey to ensure respondents are engaged and providing thoughtful answers​.
  • Captcha Verification: Add a CAPTCHA to your survey to differentiate human respondents from bots. This helps in maintaining the integrity of your data by ensuring that only genuine participants complete your survey.
  • Response Filtering: Set up your survey tool to automatically reject responses that fail to meet certain criteria (e.g., inconsistent answers, failure to complete attention checks). This can be done through built-in logic in tools like Qualtrics.

E. Finalizing Your Survey

  • Publish and Monitor:
    • Once you publish your survey on MTurk, continuously monitor the responses. The MTurk dashboard allows you to see responses in real-time, making it easier to catch any issues early.
    • Respond promptly to any queries from respondents to maintain a good reputation as a requester​​.
  • Approve and Reject Responses: Carefully review each submission for validity. Approve responses that meet your criteria and reject those that do not. Clearly communicate the reason for rejection if necessary, as this helps maintain transparency and trust with MTurk workers​.
  • Data Export and Analysis: Export the collected data to your preferred analysis tool, such as SPSS, Excel, or another statistical software. Begin the data cleaning process, filtering out any inconsistencies or incomplete responses to ensure your final dataset is robust and reliable​.

7. FAQs and Answers

To help you get the most out of using Mechanical Turk for surveys, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions and answers based on common concerns and insights from the MTurk community.

What does “batches” mean on MTurk?

“MTurk batches” or “batch work” refers to sets of similar, repetitive tasks posted by the same requester on Amazon Mechanical Turk.

Some key points about mturk batches include:

  • Batch work involves doing many small tasks in succession for the same requester, like transcribing audio clips, categorizing images, doing data entry, etc.
  • Batches pay a small amount per task, but doing many tasks in a batch can add up to decent pay if you work efficiently.
  • Batch requesters often have qualifications you need to get approved for before working on their batches.
  • There is some risk of getting rejections and not getting paid if you make mistakes on batch tasks, which can hurt your approval rating.
  • Many workers prefer batches over surveys as they find the variety of tasks more interesting, even if repetitive, rather than just answering the same survey questions repeatedly.
  • Successful batch workers build up qualifications over time to access the higher-paying, more consistent batch work from trusted requesters.

Is it better to focus on surveys or batches/other task types?

This is a matter of personal preference. Some workers prefer surveys as they find them easier with no right/wrong answers. Others prefer batches and other tasks as they can be more varied and pay better, once you build up qualifications. Batches do carry a higher risk of rejections though.

How do I avoid rejections on Mechanical Turk?

Read instructions carefully, use attention checks, provide quality responses on surveys/written tasks. For batches, do a small amount first to ensure you understand the task before working on larger quantities.