FAQ about data collection


What if two experimenters want to go on the visit for safety reasons?
  • The protocol and funding model was designed for one experimenter to complete a visit. However, if the site investigator can afford and organize having two experimenters on a visit, two people may go.
  • Both experimenters should go to the family’s home and be present during consenting.
  • The second experimenter should wait outside the home (in the car, coffee shop, library, etc.) while the primary experimenter records the 1-hour natural interaction.
  • A second person in the home can distract the child, obstruct movement, block off access to a space or room, or affect the naturalness of the interaction. Therefore, visits with another experimenter in the home during that time will not pass quality assurance.
  • After the 1-hour interaction, the second experimenter can return to the home to assist in the rest of the visit.
What if father/partner/aunt/nanny/etc. is there?
  • Usually mom says other person is going to leave.
  • If mom doesn’t appear to send them out, then say: We just want to double check that you’re ok with being alone with the child for the first 90 minutes of this visit. As we mentioned earlier, we just want you and your child at home. Let us know when you’re ready for it to just be you and your child. If they needs more time to leave, we could start with questionnaires.
  • If other person needs to be in another room in the home, we want to make sure they will not interrupt the mom and child or interact with them.
What if child is sleeping when I get there?
  • Do the questionnaire first.
  • Start one-hour natural play recording as soon as child wakes.
  • It is alright to stop questionnaire and then resume later after recording interactions.
Where is the best place to put my equipment and personal items before we start?
  • The child should not have access to anything the experimenter brings into the home. That is not something they would typically access in their daily life and they cannot play with it during the one-hour natural play or have it take up space in their home environment during the house walkthrough. The session will fail quality assurance if these items are left out.
  • Optimally, you should put anything you bring into the home in a closet or somewhere with a door. Otherwise, tucked in a corner or behind furniture where the child cannot access it is okay.
  • Placing those items on a counter, table, or somewhere the mom or child might use during the one-hour natural play is not advised.
  • If at any point during the one-hour natural play the mom or child tries to interact with those outside items, please move them to a more hidden spot and advise the mom to leave them alone.
At any point during the visit, what if there are technical issues with the video camera?
  • If the camera won’t turn on or record:

    • Check that the SD card is inserted correctly and there is enough storage to record.
    • Check that the battery is charged (replace with backup).
    • Try turning the camera off and on using the Power button on the side of the camera.
  • If the record stops because of full storage, you can delete old recordings to free up space.

  • If the battery runs out or recording stops during the house walkthrough, structured play, or questionnaires, replace the battery and resume recording. Upload all of the recordings to Databrary.

  • If the battery runs out or recording stops during the one-hour natural play, replace the battery or free up storage space and start the 1 hour over. (Ensure you will have enough battery power to record the rest of the home visit.) If the mom does not have enough time to start over, then reschedule the visit for another time (pay the mom for both sessions).

  • If a technical issue keeps you from starting or completing the session (e.g., battery runs out and backup was forgotten, camera completely malfunctions), reschedule the visit for another time (pay the mom for both sessions).

What should we do if our equipment is broken or missing?

Contact the PLAY team for assistance.

What happens if I need to reschedule a visit while I’m on a home visit
  • Try to reschedule for within the next 1-2 days if possible.
  • Make sure the child still will be within the age window (within 1 month of 12, 18, or 24 months) on the new test date.
  • The Test Date on Databrary should be the date the 1-hour natural play was done (so update it if needed). Keep the same subject number.
  • Give the mother participant payment in full amount on both visits.
What if mom offers you food or drink or anything else?
  • Always decline.
  • Bring your own water.
What if I need to go to the bathroom during the visit?
  • Do not. Plan your bathroom breaks around the visit (it will be approx 2.5 hrs long).
  • If it is an emergency, ask very politely to go in between the different portions of the visit.
What if mom asks you to stay with her child to get the mail, go outside, bathroom, etc.?
  • Say: For legal reasons, I cannot assume responsibility for your child.
What if mom ends the session early and you didn’t finish everything?
  • The mom can decide to stop at any point and still receive participant payment. Please respect her wishes.
  • Try to finish the one-hour natural play. Do your best to record the house walkthrough if you can (especially main living space and child’s room or sleeping area, clothes, toys, etc.)
  • If you are unable to complete the questionnaires, you can set up a time to do so on a recorded video chat. (See directions below for how to record a video chat session).
At any point during the visit, what if the experimenter feels unsafe or uncomfortable?
  • Experimenter’s safety should be considered above the completion of the home visit.
  • Explain to mom that you are feeling unwell and cannot complete the visit. Remember to be apologetic and professional while doing so (For example, I’m not feeling great right now. I’m so sorry but I don’t think that I will be able to finish the rest of the visit. I’m really sorry for the inconvenience. )
  • If mom has already signed the study permission form, experimenter should still provide subject payment (if possible) before leaving. (For example, Again, I’m really sorry about this. We will definitely still pay you for this visit though. Can you please sign this form?)
  • Experimenter should make a note of what happened in the post-visit notes.
At any point during the visit, what if the experimenter feels concerned for the safety of the participants?
  • Experimenters should follow the mandated reporting guidelines provided by their state and institution.

One-hour natural play

What if the mom wants to go outside?

Say You can go anywhere inside your home. We ask that you not go outside. Not every family will have an outside space or the weather may not be good that day. We want to try to keep things consistent for everyone.

-We consider yards, stoops, common hallways, porches, balconies, and decks to be outside spaces. -We consider fully enclosed (roof and all sides) sunrooms, indoor pool rooms (e.g., Florida rooms), lanai, 3-season rooms, etc. to be “inside.” -However, if they have to leave the main home to get to the space, it doesn’t count as “inside.” -Unfinished garages count as outside. Finished/converted garages with carpet or play mats count as “inside” if you can get to it from the main house without going outside.

What if the child (or mom with child) goes outside?
  • Continue recording the entryway from inside the home and wait for them to come back.
  • If they have been outside for longer than 30 seconds or the mom is not redirecting child inside, remind the mom that we want them to stay inside the home for the one-hour natural play.
What should I do if the mom or child plays with the equipment or experimenter’s items?
  • These outside items should have been placed in a closet or hidden away corner before starting.
  • If they were left out, please move them to a place out of view and inaccessible to the child and advise the mom to leave them alone.
  • It’s okay to stop their activity to move the items. If the child plays with the equipment more than a few times, this will result in the visit failing quality assurance.
What if child falls asleep in middle of hour of recording?
  • If child is noticeably sleepy: It’s okay if he/she needs to take a nap. We can just complete the questionnaires now and see if he wakes up afterwards to do the one-hour natural recording. If not, can we reschedule our visit?”
  • You will need a full, uninterrupted one-hour recording of natural play. So start the recording over when the child is awake.
  • If the child falls asleep in the last 5 mins, record the mom putting the child to sleep for the rest of the 1 hour video.
What if mom interacts with you?
  • Respond with very short but polite sentences.
  • If it continues, quickly and quietly remind mom that you want them to go about their day as if you’re not there.
What if mom is talking about or to me?
  • Ignore it at first. If it continues, quickly and quietly remind mom that you want them to go about their day as if you’re not there.
What if the child keeps trying to interact with me?
  • Don’t look directly at the child. Look at them through video recording screen.
  • Children will usually try to do this during the first 5-10 mins of your visit. Do not interact with them.
  • If child tries to hand you something, stay still and do not take it. If child is looking at you, do not move. You may need to stay still and record from a distance to show them you aren’t fun or interesting or responding to them.
  • Try to put space between you and child. Moving onto the child’s level to record them may entice them to interact.
  • Do not laugh, smile, or acknowledge what the child or mom is doing.
  • Be sure to make notes in Clean Up about child interaction.
What if doorbell rings for the dog walker, delivery, etc.?
  • Do not record the person coming. Try to record child and mom from a discrete angle. If unable to do so without also capturing the other person, record the floor during that time so we can account for that time.
  • If mom asks to stop recording, ask to just record the floor or go to a different room so we have a continuous recording and account for how long that disruption occurred.
What if mom goes to the bathroom?
  • The mom will usually take child in with her. Keep the camera recording from the outside. Record the closed door, or the floor (if the door isn’t completely closed). It is important to keep the camera running so we know how long they were in there.
  • If mom asks you to watch child: We are not allowed to watch him/her for you, but you can take him/her into the bathroom with you.
What if the mom feeds the child during the one-hour natural play?
  • That’s fine, just continue recording.
  • No need to add time, i.e., record more than one hour.
What if the mom breastfeeds?
  • If mom just starts doing it: Record from a discrete angle (from the mom’s back) so you know where the child and mom are and roughly what they are doing.
  • If mom asks “Is it okay to breastfeed [CHILD]?”, say Sure, is it ok to keep recording from behind you, at a distance, or I can point the camera another way?

What if child gets naked or gets a diaper change?
  • If mom does not request to point the camera elsewhere, continue recording, shifting position if necessary to record the face and hands, avoid getting a direct shot of the child’s pelvic area.
  • If mom asks “Is it ok if I change [CHILD]?”, say Is it ok if I record from behind you, to get their face?
  • If mom says stop recording, I’ll turn my camera away to look at the floor. We just want to know how long you’re changing for and I’ll keep recording.
  • Turn your camera away but continue recording to capture the language and so we know how long the event lasted.

At any point, if mom asks “Do you mind not recording this?”
  • Say Is it ok that I point camera somewhere else and continue recording?
  • Make sure mom sees you are doing this. That way we can account for the amount of time and language is being recorded.
  • If mom says no, then turn off camera and resume recording when it’s okay. The session won’t pass quality assurance.
  • If it’s only been a few minutes into the 1-hour natural play, try to restart a new hour or reschedule for another full hour.
The video of the natural play session is split into multiple files. What should I do?
  • Label each recording as PLAY_SITE_###_NaturalPlay_part1 and PLAY_SITE_###_NaturalPlay_part2
  • Contact the PLAY team to troubleshoot a solution to the issue

Five-minute Structured Play

What if child doesn’t want to play but stays on the mat?
  • Continue recording for 5 minutes.
What if child wants to play with the toys but moves off the mat?
  • Follow the child and record for 5 minutes.
What if child doesn’t want to play with the toys and moves off the mat?
  • Follow the child and record for 5 minutes.
What if mom doesn’t want child to play with these toys?
  • Reassure mom that we wash and sanitize the toys before each visit. If mom is still uncomfortable with child playing with the toys, move onto next part of study.


What if the father/partner/aunt/nanny/etc. is present during the questionnaires portion?
  • It is ok if the other person is at home. However, we don’t want them to answer or comment during the questionnaires. They can interact with the child or be elsewhere in the home.
  • Say: For this part we are going to ask some questions just to [CHILD’S] mom. For consistency, since sometimes other individuals aren’t present or part of the family, we want just the mother to answer the questions.
  • If someone else gives input during the questionnaire (e.g., dad offers onset date for a milestone, gives different answer on Rothbart form), the mom has to corroborate that answer. Only write an answer when the mom agrees.
What if mom refuses to complete a question or section of the questionnaire?
  • Move onto next question or part of the questionnaire. Mark refusals where you are able and make a note in the post-visit notes.
What if the mom or child is bilingual and the experimenter does not speak Spanish?

Contact the PLAY team well in advance of the visit. Go on the visit, and arrange a time to complete the Spanish vocabulary questions separately.

What to do if experimenter is unable to complete all the questionnaires during the home visit?
  • If the experimenter is unable to go over all the questionnaires during the visit (because the mother does not have time, the child is irritable and mother asks to finish, or there is another reason why you cannot continue) schedule a video call to complete remotely. The Databrary form MUST be completed in the home at the end of the visit.
  • Guidelines for completing the questionnaires on a video call:
    • The call must be done within 48 hours of the home visit.
    • Remind the mother of the agreement level she signed on the Databrary form and confirm that she agrees to share the video call with the rest of the data. Say Just as a reminder, the videos collected today are part of the data we collected during our home visit. You agreed to share the data on Databrary, an online video library where only authorized researchers have access, with other RESEARCHERS (AND IMAGES FOR PRESENTATIONS [IF APPLIES]). Do you agree to share this video recording as part of the data?
    • Video call must be recorded with mom in view and uploaded with the rest of the data from the visit. Label the file as PLAY_SITE_###_Questionnaires_remote (e.g. PLAY_NYUNI_024_Questionnaires_remote)
    • Share your screen so that the mother can see the questionnaires and scales when it applies.
    • Setup the Zoom so you are the host. Click on the 3 dots (…) in the upper right hand corner on the mother’s Zoom window. Select “Rename” and change her name to ‘Participant’. (This will blind the participant’s name from being shown on the recording.)
    • The questionnaire must be completed on the same KoBoToolBox session and form that was started in the home.
Mom says the child knows some words in sign language - does that count?
  • No, for the purposes of PLAY, sign language words do not count as spoken words in the vocabulary measures. Gestures as asked for in the MB-CDI forms should count as indicated.

House Walkthrough

The laser isn’t working
  • Check the batteries.
  • The laser won’t work against mirror or glass. Try again from a different angle or place a piece of paper on the reflective surface.
  • If the laser still will not work, continue the house walkthrough and make a comment in the post-visit notes.
The room is oddly shaped, i.e. not a rectangle
  • Measure the longest dimension for length and breadth
What if there is a room that the mom or child never entered during recording?
  • Ask to record and take measurements of every room in the house (including that room) anyway.
  • Ask if child have access to and goes into the room.
What if they refuse to let you in a specific room?
  • Say: We are interested in recording all of the spaces in your home even if your child doesn’t go there.
  • If the mom still insists not to record: Note on video the general location and say aloud that the mom asks you not to record. Ask if child have access to and goes into the room. Make notes in post-visit notes.
What should I do if the equipment or experimenter’s items are out during the house walkthrough?
  • These outside items should have been placed in a closet or hidden away corner before starting.
  • If they were left out, please move them to a more hidden spot.
  • It’s okay to move the items while recording the walkthrough. Then start recording that room over again.
  • The alternative is that the video will not pass quality assurance.

Data Sharing & Clean-up

What if mom is concerned about parts of video when signing the Databrary release form? Like breastfeeding or child is naked?
  • We cannot edit the video or parts of the video. The mom must be comfortable with sharing all of it. (Follow directives for times mom asks for privacy.)
  • Remind her: Your video will only be shared with other scientists like the professor who runs the lab at [University] if you mark Authorized Investigators. It won’t be publicly available and only used for research purposes.
  • If mom insists, then make notes in clean up sheet and mark session as ‘Private’ in Databrary.
What happen if someone else appears on video (during questionnaires or house walkthrough)?
  • Other adults must give permission for sharing; use the same Databrary permission form the mom signs
  • The mom can give permission for siblings
  • If mother wants different sharing levels for certain videos (e.g., only Authorized Investigators for questionnaires, only okay with Learning Audiences for structured play), email the PLAY team about how to mark the videos on Databrary.
What happens if, even after following alternative directions, something went very wrong on the visit (e.g., camera did not record audio, mistakes were made in the protocol, parts of session were not completed)?
  • Make comments on the post-visit notes.
  • Upload everything to Databrary and submit for quality assurance. The PLAY team will still provide feedback on the visit and some parts of the video may still be usable and shared as part of PLAY. The session will likely not count toward your site’s visit goal amount.