Crowdsourcing is the attainment of information from the general public via the Internet in order to solve a challenge or dilemma. For example, in March 2014, the website Tomnod crowdsourced satellite images online to see if anyone in the general public could find oil or wreckage from Malaysian Airlines flight 370.

Granted, crowdsourcing goes way back—so far back, that it wasn't even called crowdsourcing back then. The term "crowdsourcing" was first used by Wired magazine in 2005 (Safire, 2009). However, for centuries, contests have been sponsored by governments and other professional bodies, asking the general public to solve puzzles or provide solutions to dilemmas in exchange for a prize or recognition. So they were doing crowdsourcing before it was cool. 

Crowdsourcing has several advantages in psychological research:

  • Less expensive than traditional research
  • Data collected from a wider range of the population 
  • Quicker data collection

A study by Ranard, et al. (2014) found that health-related studies used four different types of crowdsourcing tasks: 

  • Problem-solving
  • Data processing 
  • Surveillance/monitoring 
  • Surveying 

However, only 5% of the studies reported age, sex, and culture demographics. Thirty-three percent of the studies reported at least one of those demographics (Raynard, et al. 2014).

So while crowdsourcing is the wave of the future in psychological studies, some work needs to be done to collect clear demographic information. And it's tricky verifying demographic information when someone is completing a task online. But in the meantime, crowdsourcing can open up psychological research to more people. And isn't that our goal, to make our research accessible to as many people as possible? 

  

References:

Ranard, et al. (2013). Crowdsourcing — harnessing the masses to advance health and medicine, a systematic review. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 29(1):187-203. 


Safire, W. (February 5, 2009). "On Language". New York Times Magazine

www.stephaniesarkis.com

Copyright 2014 Sarkis Media LLC

Recent Posts in Here, There, and Everywhere

Tips and Tricks to Help Your Kids Swallow Pills

Help your kids take their medication without tears.

5 Hours of Sleep or Less Can Lead to False Memories

Lack of sleep may cause you to remember things that didn't happen.

Six Questions to Ask Your Partner Before You Get Married

Asking these questions can help you avoid surprises later.

A Simple Way to Stick to Your New Year's Resolutions

Social consistency is the surprising key to sticking to resolutions.

7 Tips For Breaking Up With Someone

If you are ending a relationship, here are some suggestions for how to break up.

12 Tips for Successful Public Speaking

Public speaking doesn't need to be scary.