Dr Fred Dick
Professor of Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience,
Birkbeck, University of London
What was life like before Gorilla?
Individuals can achieve a lot, but teams can achieve much more
Previous efforts with online experiment software were partially successful, but had proven difficult to scale. Changes were often slow and too expensive for broad use. So when Fred and his colleagues discovered Gorilla - an online experiment builder - they were intrigued. Here was a platform where students could build completely customisable experiments and collect meaningful data in large quantities. It was fast and cost-effective.
The modular design process meant students could build separate parts of the experiment independently and then deploy the whole experiment online. Version control meant students can draft, and then review each other’s contributions with ease. More importantly, using Gorilla, students could collaborate from anywhere, at any time. Virtually, but together.
These advantages convinced the Psychological Sciences department to buy a site license for Gorilla straight away so that it could be used across its Research Methods classes. It was immediately adopted for undergraduate research projects. Students commented on how easy it was to get started. Tutorials and good documentation made the process effortless.
From basic exercises to real publishable science
Students use time more effectively
Now, instead of spending 30 to 40 hours sitting in a cubicle testing participants, students can recruit subjects rapidly via social media. Participants sign up via a link, giving students access to unprecedented numbers of subjects.
These means they can conduct studies very fast. Students are saving around 25 hours in scheduling and wasted time. That leads to more hands-on experience with data analysis and interpretation, because they’re spending much less time sitting with subjects.
According to Fred, designing online experiments with Gorilla has helped make Birkbeck students better experimenters:
Powerful integration that actually works
A successful science career requries collaboration