Coding and transcribing data

Important things to know

  • IRB approval is required to code data involving human subjects. The lab manager will need to (1) add you to the lab's IRB protocol for the project and (2) Katie will need to grant you access to the data on our lab's database.

  • Use Toto to download recordings. Never screenshot, share, or play participant recordings for non-lab members.

  • Coders must be "blind" to the experimental condition. You must not know (or try to find out) the condition a participant was run in (placebo v control, native v nonnative, etc).

Basic coding protocol

To code an experiment, open the coding tab in the database. For each run you code, follow the 3-step coding protocol (the same for all lab experiments).

  1. Create coding sheet: The coding app uses the participant's data and instructions from the researcher to generate a unique .csv file for you to fill out as you code their data.

  2. Code their data: Fill out the coding sheet following any study-specific instructions. If there are video or audio recordings associated with the run, they will appear. For some runs — usually lookit — you'll need to take an extra step and import the recordings first.

  3. Upload coded data (last step): Here, you'll be asked for three things: (1) to select the outcome (complete, partial, or impossible), (2) to leave any additional notes for the study team (e.g. a video was missing, participant was interrupted, etc), and (3) to upload your completed coding sheet.

Importing recordings

For lookit experiments, you'll need to import the recordings before you can view them in the coding app. If importing is necessary, the step 2 screen will show two additional things: (1) the Lookit response UUID (used to download this participant's recordings from lookit) and (2) an Import recordings button that allows you to upload recordings to our secure cloud storage bucket.

  • Remember to use Toto! Never download recordings to your personal computer

  1. Login to Toto, our coding computer.

  2. Locate the recording(s) on lookit. Login to lookit, go to the study link, search using the respond UUID.

  3. Download the recording(s) to Toto. Save them in the "videos-to-be-coded" folder. Do not change the filename.

  4. Upload the recording(s) in the coding app: See step 3 (Upload coded data) of the coding protocol above. Again, please do not change the filename.

Study specific instructions

Baby looking time

How to code baby looking time (AKA change of state coding)

ELAN is an annotation tool for audio and video recordings. We use the SIMPLE version of ELAN to code baby looking time in the lab.

  • General coding procedure first.

  • At step 2, follow these specific instructions.

Code on toto

  • import video steps

  • open ELAN

  • find video to open in ELAN

  • code baby


Some of our studies involve kids playing (kind of boring) language learning games, so we code whether or not they were paying attention (e.g. child seemed distracted; parent, sibling, dog interfered during the study; etc). Coding sheets will include the participant's randomid and the name of the video to code (don't change these). You will fill in the following:

  • present - 0 or 1 - whether a parent or anyone besides the child is present during the video.

  • interference - 0 or 1 - whether someone (or something) interfered or engaged with the child during the video in a significant way.

  • notes - any notes you want to leave for the study team about the video (e.g. describe the person present or interference that happened).


Some of our studies involve transcribing and coding what adults or children say during an experiment. Here, each study is a little bit different. Below you'll find specific instructions for each transcription study.

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