Which open tools can I use for data collection?

Over the past decades, a wealth of open, freely available tools for data collection has been made available to the scientific community. Because their source code is available and their internals can be examined and extended, these tools tend to have a rich set of features and an active user community. Gezelter (2015) and Ince et al. (2012) provide further reasons for favoring open-source software in all areas of research.

In the following, we list a few of the available tools for different types of research. All of these are freely available as open-source software.

Laboratory-based data collection

  • OpenSesame is a powerful, free and open experimental builder with a graphical interface for building studies.
  • PsychoPy has a more basic interface, but makes available many powerful features through additional code.
  • Several further options are available for researchers looking to program studies from scratch, for example PyEPL and Expyriment for Python, and the Psychtoolbox for Matlab and its open analogue Octave.

Online / browser-based data collection


  • LimeSurvey is a very versatile tool with a graphical interface for building online questionnaires and surveys.
  • formr uses the R programming language to enable very flexible and powerful logic within questionnaires, for example immediate graphical feedback, and complex designs with multiple waves and reminders.


  • lab.js offers an easy-to-use graphical interface for constructing studies, similar to laboratory-based experimental software.
  • jsPsych is a framework for programming experiments in JavaScript.

Study hosting

  • JATOS and Tatool help coordinate data collection, and allow researchers to construct batteries from multiple tasks. They also offer additional features such as a powerful integration with Amazon Mechanical Turk, and (in the case of JATOS) capabilities for interaction between participants through chat and economic games.
  • Pavlovia is a repository for sharing and hosting online studies. It provides full version history for all files, automated data collection, and a public issue tracker.