[CogSci] New tool for web-based experiments

Schwarz, Florian florians at sas.upenn.edu
Thu Oct 18 08:31:25 PDT 2018

[apologies for cross-postings]

We are very excited to announce the first official release of PennController, a new tool for web-based experiments using Ibex, developed by Jeremy Zehr in Florian Schwarz’s lab, along with a website providing documentation, a tutorial, and example experiments. Details below.
Florian Schwarz & Jeremy Zehr


·         An Ibex<http://spellout.net/ibexfarm/> library for versatile online experiments

·         Instant free hosting on Ibexfarm<http://spellout.net/ibexfarm/>

·         Simple code allowing flexible task structure

·         Free, open-source<https://github.com/PennController/penncontroller>, and extendible

·         Full documentation<https://lab.florianschwarz.net/PennController/wiki/documentation/>, tutorial<https://lab.florianschwarz.net/PennController/wiki/00-tutorial/> and examples

·         Compatible with any recruitment platform

Online collection of experimental data is becoming increasingly common in linguistics and other fields, and allows for rapid collection of large amounts of data, speeding up behavioral research and pre-testing, e.g., for acquisition or neuroscience studies. However, experiment implementation options are largely quite limited in what they can do, or very expensive, resulting in many researchers creating their own code for custom-solutions.

Ibex<http://spellout.net/ibexfarm/login> is a free, javascript-based platform for running experiments online, developed by Alex Drummond to conduct common text-based, psycho-linguistic tasks, including self-paced reading and rating studies. PennController<https://lab.florianschwarz.net/PennController/> is an extension library developed by Jeremy Zehr<https://sites.google.com/site/jeremyezehr/home> within a project in Florian Schwarz<https://www.florianschwarz.net/>’s lab<http://lab.florianschwarz.net/>. It provides a versatile and user-friendly tool to implement more complex experimental task paradigms, with a wide range of dynamic and interactive features (e.g., visual stimuli, flexible, multi-stage trial structure, response feedback, scripted/ timed events, playing audio and video).

PennController uses a stream-lined code interface requiring no javascript skills. It allows you to combine your own task template with a spreadsheet providing item-specific information. Combined with the free hosting offered by Ibexfarm<http://spellout.net/ibexfarm/> and templates that can be directly imported from github, posting simple experiments online just takes a few simple steps<https://lab.florianschwarz.net/PennController/download/>.

See the PennController website<https://lab.florianschwarz.net/PennController/> for full details. For questions and feedback, use the forum<https://lab.florianschwarz.net/PennController/forums/> or write to penncontroller at lab.florianschwarz.net<mailto:penncontroller at lab.florianschwarz.net>.


Zehr, J., & Schwarz, F. (2018). PennController for Internet Based Experiments (IBEX). https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/MD832


This project has been made possible by a grant from Penn’s University Research Foundation, titled ‘Building a Comprehensive Library for Online Experiments in IBEX.’

Initial development of preliminary versions of many of the tools that are part of PennController took place as part of work on NSF-grant BCS-1349009 to Florian Schwarz.

Florian Schwarz
Associate Professor & Undergraduate Chair
UPenn Linguistics
Room 311C
3401 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6228
Phone: +1-215-898-8183
Fax: +1-215-573-2091

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