Students Staff

Conduct your study

Our lab team is here to help make your study a success. Below are a number of steps you follow to conduct a study in ESSEXLab, including all the documents you need to complete.

We need some information about your study to get started. If you've received our seedcorn grant, you still need to apply.

Read our policy

We want to ensure we fit your requirements. We do our best to be as flexible as possible, however your study will be subject to a few restrictions, including:

  • no use of deception
  • respecting minimum payment guidelines
  • respecting scheduling and lab use procedures

Agree a contract (external use only)

If you're an external user, you agree payment for lab hire, lab assistant hire, and participant payments. Before proceeding with your application, contact our Lab Manager to discuss costings.

Apply for ethical approval and consent

All studies conducted in ESSEXLab must receive ethical approval:

We have a consent form template that you can complete. If you'd like to use a different form, contact our Lab Manager.

Complete our online application

Tell us about your study, including a short protocol to outline the details. You also need to include any requirements:

  • Sample requirements: how many participants will you need? Do you have specific demographic requirements (e.g. British citizens only)?
  • Session length and number: how long will your sessions be? How many will you need to schedule?
  • Software requirements: what software will you need to run your study? We support zTree, E-Prime, and anything web-based (e.g. Qualtrics).

You also need to submit supporting documents with your online application:

  • signed copy of ethical approval
  • copy of approved consent form
  • brief (one to two page) study protocol outlining the study and specific treatments or stimuli to be used
  • an email template (.docx) to be sent to your participants
  • a copy of the receipt form (.doc) you'd like to use

Now that all the documents have been completed, you can schedule your study and present your design at our ESSEXLab seminar.

Check the lab availability

Check our lab calendar to see when it's available and email the Lab Manager with your requested dates. Unfortunately, we can't book any dates until we've received your online application and ethical approval has been granted.

Bookings must be justified by need, based on your study design and the number of participants you recruit. You'll need to run a programming check a minimum of two weeks before your study begins.

Present at our seminar

If you're a University user, you present your project for our ESSEXLab seminars. This multi-disciplinary forum provides you with critical feedback to improve your study design before you conduct your study in the lab. The seminars involve 15 minutes of presentation followed by 15 minutes of questions.

If you're an external user, you're welcome to present your project for a seminar. We can make arrangements for you to present via Skype if you're unable to travel to our Colchester Campus.

Good studies require preparation. These next steps ensure that everything is ready for the launch of your study.

Visit the lab

Whether you're new to ESSEXLab or you've used the lab before, you'll need to visit ESSEXLab for a lab orientation before you conduct your study so that we can:

  • grant you access to the lab on your staff card. If you're an external user, we'll give you a temporary access fob when you arrive
  • set up your account for the ESSEXLab Hroot recruitment system
  • install the files for your study. Please bring these with you on a USB drive. If you requested study programming, this needs to be completed prior to your visit
  • provide you with a researcher binder for storing materials in the lab
  • discuss lab procedures, including access to the lab safe

Schedule your visit by contacting us at

Check your programming

Once your experimental programming is complete and the files are installed on the lab computer, we help you test your software to make sure everything is working. If there is time, this can be completed when you visit the lab.

Send us your participant materials

We need copies of your study documents to help us run your study:

  • consent form (if any changes have been made)
  • receipt form (if any changes have been made)
  • participant instructions

We are now using Basecamp to manage our research projects. Basecamp is a project management tool which will be used to upload study materials and contact the lab team when needed.

  • Upload your documents on Basecamp.
  • Print your materials

    If you're a University user, you print your own consent forms, receipt forms, participant instructions, and payment envelopes for your study. Printing is available by lab staff at five pence per page.

    If you're an external user, our lab staff arrange printing for you. Email us the most up-to-date copies of your documents for printing at least a week before your study is scheduled.

    Conduct a pilot session

    Hold a pilot session with participants at least one week before your main study. This helps to detect any programming bugs or other major issues with experiment protocols that could result in the loss of time, money, and data.

    Read the session guide

    Read the digital handbook

    Our digital handbook gives you all the materials you need during your study. It includes information about:

    • equipment
    • software
    • lab and experiment procedures
    • accessing the lab server
    • advice on your study from our team
    • contact information

    You can access the handbook by using the username and password we provide you with during lab orientation. If you have any questions, email

    Give us your forms

    Place all of your receipt and consent forms by experiment in your assigned binder. We'll upload these to the lab server after completion of your experiment. Hard copies can be returned if needed.

    Send us your raw data

    Provide us with a copy of your raw data set after you complete your study. Your data will be encrypted and kept on the lab server. This helps us to ensure transparency of the data collection process and provide insurance for you should your data be lost or corrupted.

    Complete your payments

    Your subject payments and lab fees (for external users) must be invoiced or debited from seedcorn or departmental accounts upon the completion of your study.

    Give us feedback

    Complete our brief follow-up survey to provide us with feedback about your study and experience with ESSEXLab.

    Got a question?

    Contact the Lab Manager if you have any questions.