This week Amazon changed the terms for a service that has become a standard tool in social-science research, and many scholars are complaining that it will mean higher costs to conduct surveys.
The service is called Mechanical Turk, and it is a marketplace that connects people on the Internet looking for paid piecework with anyone who has a small task and is willing to pay someone to do it. The concept is known ascrowd-work,and many researchers have used it to pay strangers small amounts to take part in social-science surveys.
The good news for the National Institutes of Health and its university researchers is that after some 14 years of flat budgets, Congress may be about to loosen the purse strings.
The bad news is that the scientists might not like the terms.
Evidence of a possible break in the budgetary logjam is headed by legislation, expected to reach a floor vote this month in the House of Representatives, that would give the NIH an extra $2 billion a year in each of the next five years.
The fight against inequality will take center stage at the Ford Foundation under a sweeping overhaul announced today by the nation’s second biggest philanthropy.
Not only will Ford direct all of its money and influence to curbing financial, racial, gender, and other inequities, but it will give lots more money in a way grantees have been clamoring for: It hopes to double the total it gives in the form of unrestricted grants for operating support. The doubling of general operating support to 40 percent of the foundation’s grant-making budget, projected to be in excess of $1 billion over five years, will enable Ford to create what its president, Darren Walker, calls a "social-justice infrastructure" reminiscent of the support it provided nonprofits during the civil-rights era.
Before it fell apart, Michael J. LaCour’s study of political canvassing tactics was timely not just for what he supposedly discovered, but for how he discovered it.
In order to figure out whether gay-marriage advocates could actually change people’s minds about the issue by having brief conversations on their doorsteps, Mr. LaCour, a University of California at Los Angeles graduate student, designed an experiment.
Why do some discoveries fade into obscurity while others blaze a new trail the moment they are published? More mysteriously, why do some research papers remain dormant for years and then suddenly explode with great impact upon the scientific community?
A blossoming experiment in allowing a form of open-access scientific publishing appears to have hit a roadblock, after the world’s largest journal publisher found that too many universities were moving to take advantage of it.
The publisher, Elsevier, has told universities that have built their own online repositories of journal articles written by their researchers that they now must respect waiting periods typically lasting a year or two before allowing free access to Elsevier-owned content.