Gathering Data Over the Web

Inquisit 5 enables you send data from the desktop machine running the experiment to a remote server on the network. The ability to save data to a remote server is critical for experiments conducted over the web because the experimenter often does not have access to the participant's computer to retrieve any locally saved data files. The feature can also be used with Inquisit Lab, for example, in cases where it is more convenient to save the data to a single location rather than having to copy the data files from multiple computers in a classroom or lab.

There are several options for saving data to a remote server.

  1. Save the data to the web server where the experimenter can login and download the files.
  2. Send the data to a web server via HTTP POST
  3. Send the data to an FTP server
  4. Save the data to a shared network (UNC) folder

Of couse, it is also possible for both web and lab experiments to save the data to the local machine in cases where the experiment is run on lab or classroom computers.

Option 1 (saving the data to is the default behavior of Inquisit Web, and it is by far the most reliable and easiest solution. To protect against snoopers and sniffers, data is encrypted and posted back to using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), the same technology used by online shopping and banking web sites to protect sensitive information transmitted over the web. Each participant's data is saved to the server is a separate file. The experimenter can login and download the files from the web site. Again, the downloaded files are encrypted over the network using SSL.

While option 1 is appropriate for the vast majority of experimenters, in some cases it may be necessary or desirable to leverage some of the other remote data features of Inquisit. The means by which data is saved to a server is controlled by the following attributes on the data element.

/ encrypt = true | false
/ file = "file path"
/ password = "password"
/ userid = "userid"

Encrypt specifies whether Inquisit should first encrypt the data before being sending it back to the server. If the data is being saved over SSL, this command can be set to "false" since the data will be encrypted using standard web protocols. If SSL is not an option, this command should be set to "true" to obfuscate potentially sensitive data from being compromised by hackers and packet sniffers as it travels over the network. Encrypted data files are saved with the "inq" extension. Unencrypted data files have the "dat" extenstion.

The file attribute specifies the location to which the data is saved. This can be any of the following:

If you specify a folder with no file name, Inquisit will default the file name to that of the script file. Otherwise, it will use the specified file name. So as not to overwrite other data files on the server, Inquisit also appends the date and time (to the nearest millisecond) to the file name along with the "dat" or "inq" file extension depending whether encryption is turned on.

The userid and password attributes allows you to specify login credentials to use when accessing the web, ftp, or unc. It is not necessary to specify the userid or password when saving the data to

When saving data to a remote server, Inquisit creates separate data files for each run of the script as opposed to appending the data to a single file as it does in the case of saving to a local folder. This is to avoid potential collisions that might occur when multiple clients attempt to save to the server at the same time. You can combine multiple data files into a single file by selecting the "Open" command on Inquisit's file menu and multi-selecting all of the files you wish to combine. Inquisit will open all of the selected files, appending them together. You can then select the "Save As" command on Inquisit's File menu to save the combined data into a single file.

Note that data collection capabilities of both Inquisit Web and Inquisit Lab are disabled unless a license has been purchased.