You’ve made the decision to move your research study online, but perhaps you are not familiar or entirely comfortable with the various tools available. We’ve compiled a list of some of the more popular ones here and take a look at the pros and cons of each.
The first step to moving online is transferring the study materials to an online platform. The best platform to use depends on the type of study being conducted. If the study is a survey, then the questions can be pasted into a survey-hosting platform. Popular platforms include Qualtrics, SurveyGizmo, SurveyMonkey, and Google Forms. You may have access to at least one of these platforms through your institution.
If a study employs a more complex behavioral task, consider using an experiment-hosting platform. Popular platforms include Gorilla, Inquisit, and Pavlovia. These platforms allow researchers to put together experimental tasks, either from a library of common tasks or individually programmed by the user. These platforms also host the experiment on their servers so researchers do not have to set up their own websites to host studies.
Inquisit enables researcher to see if a participant has navigated off of the experiment window.
It can be cost effective for running a lot of experiments with a lot of participants.
Other researchers’ code is often public.
Uses open-source programming languages and libraries, which means researchers can save their code and host the experiments elsewhere in the future.
Researchers have to do the bulk of coding themselves, which can be time consuming.
The second step is to recruit people to participate in the study. Researchers with funding to compensate participants will often recruit from online participant pools. Popular platforms include Amazon Mechanical Turk and Prolific. Researchers at academic institutions with an undergraduate participant pool can disseminate their online studies through platforms specific to their school, such as Sona Systems. Another option is to use social media to recruit individuals who are not signed up for a participant pool.
Most hosting platforms will store the data collected. Depending on the platform, data can be downloaded in a variety of formats, such as CSV and SAV.
Prolific is an online participant pool established to support academic research and used only for data collection.
Sona Systems is a participant management system. Schools or departments typically purchase and manage a site for its members to use. Institutions most frequently use Sona to manage undergraduate student participant pools, though some maintain a pool of paid participants as well.
Barbara Toizer is a PhD student at the University of Kansas.