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BPS Cognitive Psychology Section: Helping Researchers Take Experiments Online

Has your research stalled?

Find out how researchers have liberated their lab with rapid project grants!

The past year has been a difficult time for behavioural science research. No longer being able to work face-to-face with participants meant a lot of research was put on hold until new plans were created. Many researchers and students have successfully moved their experiments online, enabling them to continue collecting data in a safe and secure manner.

Tight schedules and small budgets mean that postgraduate research students have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

Rapid project grants

To get researchers up and running again, several rapid grants have been created. For example, the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) Cognitive Psychology Section created a Postgraduate Rapid Project Grant. This is specifically designed to help postgraduate researchers who had to make unexpected changes to their research projects as a result of the pandemic. This grant provided researchers with up to £400 to help cover costs with moving research online, making them perfect for purchasing Gorilla tokens and covering participant payment.

Success stories

Several grant winners have taken research online with Gorilla, here are their stories…

How would you explain your current research topic in a couple of sentences?

My research investigates individual differences in children’s language acquisition, and I am interested in finding out how the speed of automatization predicts differences in children’s linguistic ability. I am particularly interested in learning more about language difficulties experienced by children with developmental language disorder (DLD) and I hope that my research findings will enable us to develop supporting therapies for children with DLD.


Why did you decide to use Gorilla for this research?

I had been planning an online experimental task and after attending the BeOnline conference in March 2020, I decided to use Gorilla. I was very impressed with the ease of designing my task as well as the support from the scripting team for more advanced coding. Gorilla is a very professional interface, and our lab is now using Gorilla for all our online research.


What piece of advice would you give to other postgraduate students looking to take their research online?

  1. Pilot your study extensively before launching it online.
  2. Consider the types of devices that people may use to run your study, for example, can the study be adapted to tablet/mobile phone as well as laptop/computer?

Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

Moving my research online has had a number of positive benefits as it meant that I could continue with my research during the pandemic and it also enabled me to reach a wide group of participants without the limitations of travel. I have been able to advertise my research throughout the United Kingdom and have really enjoyed meeting children and their parents from all over the country.


Ashley Blake, University of Birmingham


How would you explain your current research topic in a couple of sentences?

My doctoral research is investigating the effects of emoji on different stages of textual information processing in human participants, ranging from the early phases of visual attention (e.g., gaze behaviour during reading) to the later points of memory encoding and retrieval. The grant received by the BPS Cognitive Section was used to fund an experiment examining the latter on the effects of emoji on memory recall.


Why did you decide to use Gorilla for this research?

Gorilla was initially recommended to me by a colleague, so I decided to try it. After a few days of use, I found it had a great balance between its ease of use during experiment building, its capacity for building complex tasks in a short period of time, and its level of precision during task presentation that is lacking in many alternative builders.


What piece of advice would you give to other postgraduate students looking to take their research online?

Make sure the software, tools, and tasks you are planning to apply in your research are appropriate for the online environment, and if not, be flexible and do not be afraid to seek out alternatives.


Chris Robus, University of Bedfordshire

What’s next?

Are you inspired? The next round of the BPS Cognitive Psychology Section’s Postgraduate Rapid Project Grant is open for applications now! The closing date is Friday 12th March 2021, so you still have time to start your online research journey.

If you apply and are successful, please do get in touch and tell me more about your research at [email protected]


Ashleigh Johnstone

Ashleigh is a recent PhD graduate now working for Gorilla Experiment Builder who are revolutionising online behavioural science in academia and beyond. After writing and submitting her thesis during the pandemic, she is on a personal mission to ensure no student gets left behind this year.