Getting started

If you’re a researcher interested in using Lookit to run your own developmental studies, here’s how you get started!

For a 20-minute overview of how Lookit works, you can also read Jenna Croteau’s excellent Introduction to Lookit document.

Do I have to do these in order?

No! These steps can all be completed in parallel. Except for joining the Slack workspace, please do that first in case you have questions.

A. 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. There are a lot of participating researchers (over 400 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.

C. Familiarize yourself with the Lookit Working Groups

Although a Core Team at MIT provides a foundation for Lookit to function, a lot of great additional work is done by the community of researchers working together on Lookit to run studies. For example, one Working Group is focused on increasing our sample size and diversity, and another is focused on supporting new researchers as they learn how to use Lookit.

Please review the descriptions of the current working groups. At least one person from your lab (the more the merrier!) should fill out the survey to express preferences for working on particular topics; we’ll then be in touch to help you join a group!

D. Create a lab on Lookit

You can go to to create your own “lab” on Lookit. After creating your lab, you can go ahead and put studies in it and use it to manage access to your group’s studies. However, you won’t be able to submit these studies to run on Lookit until the lab is approved to test. This happens once

  1. you have a signed institutional agreement for the lab PI, and
  2. someone in the group has taken the terms of use quiz

E. Study setup steps

  1. Complete the Lookit tutorial to get familiar with how the platform works and how to implement a study on it.
  2. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. Gather peer feedback on your study to improve it; edit and iterate.
  3. Submit your study for internal review. This process, like peer review at a journal, can take a bit of time to complete, and you might need to go through more than one revise-and-resubmit to get approval to run your study. To minimize the chances of repeated revise-and-resubmits, 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.
  4. Once your study has successfully passed internal review, start data collection!
  5. Put a link to Lookit on a parent-facing part of your lab or personal researcher website. This might include something like this: “Did you know that you can participate in our research from the comfort of your own home? Click here to check out Lookit, an online platform for developmental research. Families can participate in our studies on their home computers, any time they want!”