Online Experiments in SoPHIE

Getting Started

  1. Create your experiment

    Experiment and Treatment

    When starting to create your first study you will begin in the Designer section of SoPHIE. That is where you can add your first experiment. Experiments can be shared with other researchers working on the same SoPHIE installation and it can be divided into multiple treatments. Treatments are used to create the different conditions that you are looking at.

    Stepgroups and Steptypes

    Stepgroups in SoPHIE are used to organize multiple steps into logical groups. In an Ultimatum Game reasonable stepgroups would be Instructions, Control Questions, the actual Ultimatum Game, Results and the Post Experimental Questionnaire (PEQ). Stepgroups have a number of loops assigned. That way it is very easy to design repetitive parts in an experiment.

    In addition to adding stepgroups you can also add steptypes to your experiment. Steptypes are predefined building blocks for generic parts contained in every experiment. That is ranging from Quiz or Control Questions and simple Form Inputs for text and numbers to interactive Text and Video Chat. As SoPHIE is a very flexible platform you can also design your own steps by using the Generic PHP steptype.

    For more information on the different steptypes: Steptypes and configuration

    Group your participants

    If you are not planning to run an individual experiment without interaction you need to think about the participants grouping. Especially when looking at an online experiment, the interactive parts add complexity. For that SoPHIE provides some features to randomly regroup participants each round or an API to simplify your custom grouping.

    For more information on custom grouping: Grouping Documentation

  2. Recruite study participants

    Recruiting students

    If you are planning to run your experiment with students from your university, SoPHIE provides an individual participant code for each subject. When running a lab experiment you can simply print out the codes provided in the Session Administration of each session and subjects will be able to login themselves. That will also make sure that the participants identity will not be connected to their data.

    When you are planning to run an online experiment there are multiple solutions. You can either send out a general link to the study or you can send out individual participant links. Each solution has different advantages and disadvantages and we will be more than happy to discuss the best solution for you.

    Recruit subjects from Prolific or Amazon MTurk

    Recruiting study participants from a crowdworking platform like Amazon MTurk or Prolific is a little different from the previous process. Especially in terms of keeping the workers anonymous it has its advantages though, as the platforms take care of the login of the participants. In addition you have a potentially heterogenous group in comparison to your students and you can specify your requirements for the participants.

  3. Run the experiment

    Monitor the participants

    After you created a session and invited your students or connected the session to Prolific or MTurk, you can get the experiment started. Simply hit the "Set running" and the "Start admin process" button and the participants that already joined the experiment will see the first step. You can check, where participants currently are in the process of the experiment by looking at the "Monitor" tab of the session. You can also identify, if subjects are not connected to the platform anymore or if they switched to different tabs. This is highlighted through different colors (red: participant disconnected or closed the browser tab, yellow: participant switch the tab or is not interacting with the site anymore).

    Direct the pace of the experiment

    In addition SoPHIE allows you to direct the flow and duration of the experiment. You can have steps, where participants cannot proceed unless you allow them to (Sync Admin), you can add Timers that only you can start from your admin interface or you can add individual timers to automatically proceed participants to the next steps. This is especially helpful in interactive online experiments, as there is no other way to make sure that not all group members will be stuck, if anyone decides to leave.

  4. Analyze your data

    Download data files

    In SoPHIE your data is provided in three different formats by default. To monitor participants inputs during the experiment you can simply look at the html output in your browser. If any of the results are not as intended or you recognize that you missed to collect important parts of the data you will know imidiately. For statistical evaluation the output is also provided as a CSV and as an Excel file. You can also filter your output and the data sheet will only contain the variables that you need. However, if there is a necessity to create individualized reports either as HTML or as CSV/Excel you can also create your own Treatment Reports.

    Get an idea of time needed

    By default SoPHIE also tracks the amount of time, participants spend within each step. Those durations should not be used judge participants behavior down to the milliseconds, but it does provide helpful insights on the time participants took to make decisions or to understand certain structures.

    For more information on the duration documentation: Time tracking

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