How we think programming online experiments should work

  • Students and researchers who try to program online experiments should be liberated from the slings and arrows of Internet-based programming.

  • Our scripting framework should empower beginning experimenters without limiting expert programmers.

  • Even non-progammers should be able to re-use materials, for example, by copying an experiment and just changing the stimuli.

  • However: We are also programmers at heart and we would hate it when real programmers would recoil in despair at our approach to making experiments. We, therefore, build on existing best practices in online programming; programmers can use pretty much all of JavaScript.

  • Users should be able to easily filter and download data in common formats like Excel, CSV, etc.

  • If someone wants to make a living by creating great tools for research, this should be facilitated. We cannot foresee all the interesting and useful things that can be programmed with our platform. If someone wanted to invest time creating say a great survey tool with excellent documentation, we believe this should be rewarded. It stimulates the development of useful tools and may save researchers a lot of time for a small amount of money.

  • We believe certain 'best-practices' will make psychology a better science, by making it more transparent, yielding more reliable knowledge eventually. Therefore:

    • We encourage and support sharing of experiment scripts and stimuli between researchers through our Task Store (for free or for a fee)

    • We encourage transparency of exerimentation in all stages of research with our Postview Pages, which summarize an experiment, plan, scripts, stimuli, data, the actual experiment. Just copy the QR code or URL and start sending your colleagues to your experiment.

  • Many online experiments can already (also) be run as offline (lab-based) experiments, with all the advantages of easy scripting in one of the world's most popular programming languages, JavaScript, and access to your data everywhere.

Check out NeuroTask Scripting

What NeuroTask Scripting provides

A solid online programming framework that greatly simplifies your work

Writing online experiments is very hard to learn, mainly because it requires in-depth knowledge of many different types of languages and systems. We feel that writing an online experiment from scratch is like programming your own version of MS Word just to write a few letters home: It is a waste of time for nearly all of us.

It would be a very long list itemizing all the things you need to know to successfully program an online experiment from scratch. We make it our mission to make almost all of these items to go away, so that you only have worry about instructions, stimuli, what to show when and where, and which responses to record. You will never have to learn about DNS, HTML, PHP, .access, SQL, CSS3, jQuery, DOM, XHR, JSON, and many other abbreviations, each of which respresents a long learning curve.

We are not trying to scare you here; you really do need to know about all of this. Each of these topics may take days or weeks to master, depending on your knack for programming. In our experience, most beginners take six to twelve months to master the basics. It is our goal to reduce the learning curve to a few hours or days for not-too-outlandish experiments.

When working with NeuroTask Scripting, you can work with just a few parts of JavaScript. Our version of JavaScript is highly simplified and heavily supported with pre-built functions for presenting stimuli, getting responses, recording timing, and storing data.

And if your task is a version of an existing one, chances are high you can copy-and-paste, altering an existing script, or even just providing different stimuli of a copied or purchased script.

However, it's still science, so not all roads to great data will be easy. With NeuroTask at least you can be fairly sure that there exists no easier way to your particular online experiment.

Check out NeuroTask Scripting