If you’re a researcher currently running online studies and interested in joining the new improved Children Helping Science platform, here’s how you get started!
Study types on the platform
You can post studies that run in any online format to Children Helping Science. To guide you through setup, we divide studies into three groups:
- Bring-your-own Study Link: You provide a link to a survey or other unmoderated study that you create. Families take the study on their own time, without a researcher present.
- Bring-your-own Meeting: You provide a link to a scheduling page for families (e.g. Calendly). A researcher meets the family on a video call to conduct the session.
- Lookit Experiment: You build a study in the Lookit experiment builder, which is customized for developmental studies and includes features including webcam recording. Families take the study on their own time, without a researcher present.
Join the Slack workspace¶
Please fill out this form for an invite.
Slack is our primary means of communication about new features, best practices, etc. It’s also where you should go with any questions or technical support requests, and for peer review from other researchers. There are a lot of participating researchers (over 800 at last count!) who may be able to help!
If you also want to receive updates about Lookit via email, please join the lookit-research list as well.
Overview - 15 minute to your first study!¶
1. Check to see if we already have an agreement with your institution to use the online testing platform (~1 minute)¶
Approximately 100 institutions have already signed agreements.
- Check whether your institution is listed here.
- Send an email to Melissa (email@example.com) to be added to an existing agreement.
If your institution is not listed, the form you need is here, and feel free to email Melissa for help.
2. Create a new researcher account (~1 minute)¶
Go here to make a new researcher account.
Please don’t use a single login for your whole lab - even if you use a single email for lab communications (like firstname.lastname@example.org). Every person should have their own account.
3. Create (~5 minutes) or join (~1 minute) your lab account¶
You will use your lab to manage access to your group’s studies. Every lab has its own public page that shows the studies that are active right now. (Example: https://lookit.mit.edu/studies/early-childhood-cognition-lab/)
If your lab already has an account, go to this page, find your lab and click “Request to join”.
4. Create a study (~10 minutes if you already have a study set up that you want to post)¶
To create a study, go here and check the “External” checkbox if you are posting a link to an existing study you have already set up (bring-your-own study link or bring-your-own meeting.)
Any studies you run will need to be approved by your institution’s IRB (just like studies you run in person). If you do not already have permission to conduct online testing, you will need to amend your IRB protocol to include online testing (or submit a new protocol for your proposed online study.)
If you are bringing study in progress to the platform, you can consider this an amendment to your recruiting method, comparable to a new social media ad. If you need approval to extend your recruiting methods, please notify your institution’s IRB of the amendment.
Human subjects approval on the platform
The Lookit platform is run through MIT, but MIT’s IRB is not involved in any studies from other institutions (unless an MIT researcher is your actual research collaborator on a study!)
If you do not yet have a study design and want to learn how to use the platform to create studies (including asynchronous studies with no experimenter present that will collect webcam data of your participants) visit the Lookit tutorial to learn how the platform works.
5. What happens next?¶
b) Within three business days, you will receive an email saying that your study is approved. (We will contact you if for some reason your study is not yet ready for posting - e.g., because you are posting to an individual webpage with no university affiliation or without listing your IRB approval.)
c) After you’ve received the email saying your study is approved, go to your study page and hit “Start” under the Study Status heading. Be sure you are ready to start because your study will appear on the main study Children Helping Science page (and your lab’s page) immediately! You can pause and re-start data collection whenever you need to.
6. Recruiting participants for your study¶
Does the platform help advertise the study?
Yes. As soon as you start data collection, emails advertising your study will start going out to a random subset of families eligible for your study in our >9,000+ family database. (Families decide if they want to be contacted at all, and we limit the number of emails families receive so that no one family is overwhelmed with messages.)
Can I recruit participants directly to my study rather than the platform as a whole?
Yes. You can ensure that any families you recruit go directly to your study page on the website by including a direct link to that study anywhere you advertise for participants. Here is an example of a direct link.
Do some studies have priority over others on the platform?
No. The order in which studies appear on the Children Helping Science main page is randomized. Each user - families and researchers - will see the same order every time they log on, making it easy for all of us to locate studies we have looked at before. However, every family and researcher will see their own randomly determined order.
How do I benefit from others’ recruitment efforts and how does recruiting for my study help others?
Every lab’s recruitment effort helps expand the participant pool for all of us. Families interested in participating in research are usually interested in many different studies. Thus, even if you are a first-time researcher setting up your first study and you haven’t yet advertised at all, you are reaching roughly 10,000 families already interested in developmental science because other researchers have contributed to this community. Please join us!
Even if you aren’t currently recruiting for a study, you can help by promoting the platform broadly. Put a link to Children Helping Science on a family-facing part of your lab or personal researcher website. This might look like this:
“Did you know that you can participate in our research from the comfort of your own home? Click here to check out Children Helping Science, an online platform for developmental research. Families can participate in our studies on their home computers, any time they want!”
Recommendations for your first online study¶
If you are in the process of planning your first online study, here is an ordering of steps we recommend that you take:
- For internal studies, complete the Lookit tutorial to get familiar with how the platform works and how to implement a study on it.
- Figure out the details of how your study will work - counterbalancing, practice trials, etc. Draft the parent-facing instructions, record any audio and video needed (e.g., verbal instructions, voiceover/questions, demos), and collect your stimuli. See advice here.
- Set up your study on Lookit and get it working just how you want it to! You’ll need to set each of these fields and write and test your study protocol.
- Gather peer feedback on your study to improve it; edit and iterate.
- Submit your study for internal review. Researchers are strongly encouraged to spend time polishing their studies as much as possible before submitting, including asking others to go through the study and provide feedback.
- Once your study has successfully passed internal review, start data collection!