Research Topic

Empirical Research at a Distance: New Methods for Developmental Science

About this Research Topic

In recent months, our world has changed radically. Life within the COVID-19 pandemic has provided many challenges, not the least of which is the shift to working from home. As researchers, this has put up some significant barriers: How do we continue to do cutting edge, controlled, research when we cannot work directly with our participants?

This Research Topic pursues the aim of collecting ideas on how to keep developmental research going without the infrastructure that a lab provides. To ascertain the positives and the negatives of these new circumstances, discussion is needed to develop a clear picture of the emerging methods. Weighing the advantages of, for example, new online paradigms that might increase the ecological validity of our findings (e.g., being able to see children in their own homes, being able to recruit from wider geographical populations), against the very real disadvantages of a decrease in the precision of measurements (e.g., not being able to control the testing environment), is important for the community to develop appropriate criteria for the application of new methods. In addition, facing new options and contrasting them with what is already established, these discussions will propel a critical reflection of existing methods and practices. With this critical reflection, this Research Topic will link to the already existing debates of a bias in developmental psychology resulting in studies focusing on WEIRD (white, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) participants, of the trade-off between real-world behaviors and in-lab controls, as well as new debates about ethics and privacy in online studies.

The new possibilities for developmental research have thus the potential to overcome this bias and to attract other than WEIRD children to research. They have also the potential to raise the sustainability of data collection by making collected material available and reusable for other purposes.
The papers of this Research Topic have in common a presentation of a new method and a clear critical reflection of the challenges (in terms of technology, work and learning load, tradeoffs), advantages and disadvantages in comparison to already established methods, such as:

- Online data collection – looking time/eye-tracking/behavioral
- Papers using the ‘Lookit’ or other online platforms
- Models
- Simulations
- Open Science (databrary.org)
- ManyBabies-at-home project
- Meta-analyses
- Work using databases of developmental data (e.g., Wordbank, MetaLab, Childes)
- New ethnographical approaches


Keywords: Empirical research, developmental research, ecological validity, online studies, developmental psychology, developmental science, psychology methods


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

In recent months, our world has changed radically. Life within the COVID-19 pandemic has provided many challenges, not the least of which is the shift to working from home. As researchers, this has put up some significant barriers: How do we continue to do cutting edge, controlled, research when we cannot work directly with our participants?

This Research Topic pursues the aim of collecting ideas on how to keep developmental research going without the infrastructure that a lab provides. To ascertain the positives and the negatives of these new circumstances, discussion is needed to develop a clear picture of the emerging methods. Weighing the advantages of, for example, new online paradigms that might increase the ecological validity of our findings (e.g., being able to see children in their own homes, being able to recruit from wider geographical populations), against the very real disadvantages of a decrease in the precision of measurements (e.g., not being able to control the testing environment), is important for the community to develop appropriate criteria for the application of new methods. In addition, facing new options and contrasting them with what is already established, these discussions will propel a critical reflection of existing methods and practices. With this critical reflection, this Research Topic will link to the already existing debates of a bias in developmental psychology resulting in studies focusing on WEIRD (white, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic) participants, of the trade-off between real-world behaviors and in-lab controls, as well as new debates about ethics and privacy in online studies.

The new possibilities for developmental research have thus the potential to overcome this bias and to attract other than WEIRD children to research. They have also the potential to raise the sustainability of data collection by making collected material available and reusable for other purposes.
The papers of this Research Topic have in common a presentation of a new method and a clear critical reflection of the challenges (in terms of technology, work and learning load, tradeoffs), advantages and disadvantages in comparison to already established methods, such as:

- Online data collection – looking time/eye-tracking/behavioral
- Papers using the ‘Lookit’ or other online platforms
- Models
- Simulations
- Open Science (databrary.org)
- ManyBabies-at-home project
- Meta-analyses
- Work using databases of developmental data (e.g., Wordbank, MetaLab, Childes)
- New ethnographical approaches


Keywords: Empirical research, developmental research, ecological validity, online studies, developmental psychology, developmental science, psychology methods


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 November 2020 Abstract
30 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 November 2020 Abstract
30 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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