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Lab Manual

Welcome to the Speech Acquisition Lab!

Please provide the following:

  1. A recent photo to post on the website.
  2. Your birthdate.
  3. Your cell number (if you are ok being texted).
  4. Your gmail address (if you have one; otherwise we will give you Lab calendar access using your UMail).
  5. A photo of the BACK of your UCard so that we can request Lab key access for you.
  6. Your preferred email address so that we can add you to the Lab listserv.

New Lab members must also do the following to get started in the Lab:

  1. Human subjets certification. Our research involves human subjects. This means that Lab members must be trained to work with human subjects. Please email a copy of your CITI, NIH, or IRB Human Subjects Training certificate to
  2. ERICA account.Create an ERICA account and upload your human subjects training certificate. Let Shannon and Rachel know once you have done this.
  3. Box (Cloud) Access. Create a UBox account and send an email confirming that you have done so to:
  4. Lab manual. Study this Lab Manual carefully. You need to be familiar in particular with the parts concerning Lab Rules and Running Subjects before being trained to run subjects.
  5. Lab training. Get trained on subject running procedures by an experienced Lab member (this includes observing sessions and being observed running sessions). Follow up with an observation by Rachel or Shannon.
  6. Sona. Ask Rachel and Shannon to create a Sona researcher account for you. Once you receive your Logon and Password, you are ready to add timeslots.

The goals of the Speech Acquisition Lab are to (1) advance research on the acquisition of second languages, specifically the sound systems of second languages; and (2) to provide training opportunities for students interested in pursuing research in this and related areas.

  • Attend lab meetings (as frequently as reasonably possible)

  • Keep study notebooks up-to-date and in the Lab AT ALL TIMES

  • Follow all procedures laid out in experiment protocols and keep careful notes about running subjects on the subject log

  • Protect the privacy and other rights of study participants

  • Treat study participants, other visitors, and colleagues with respect

  • Keep the online lab calendar and Sona up-to-date with the times you plan to use the lab and the equipment

  • Keep the Lab locked AT ALL TIMES when you are not in the room; do not prop the Lab door open when you are not in the Lab

  • Do not allow people who are not lab members to be in the lab when you are not present

  • Protect all lab passwords, logins, copy codes, and any other related information

  • Do not download dangerous/questionable files and/or applications onto lab computers
  • Be very careful about the content of materials you use Lab computers to create and/or view
  • ALWAYS BACK UP EVERYTHING following the study protocol!!!
  • NEVER run a subject (or even set up an appointment) before making sure that all parts of the experiment work correctly

Lab Coordinator

Graduate student who oversees the day-to-day operation of the Lab, works in the Lab regularly, and is the contact person when Rachel is not available. The Lab Coordinator has priority over use of the corner computer in the Lab. Others may use the computer when the Lab Coordinator is not present and the other computers are not free, but they must respect the Lab Coordinator’s time and space.

  • Keeps the Lab “professional-looking”
  • Maintains the Lab shopping list
  • Reminds Lab members of Lab rules when appropriate

Master of the Calendar

  • Checks the online calendar twice weekly for scheduling conflicts
  • Posts information about lab meetings, abstract deadlines, colloquia, etc. on the calendar
  • Keep calendar membership up-to-date
  • Update lab ‘events’ and ‘announcements’ blogs (for web page)
  • Makes sure that Lab members’ birthdays and graduations are acknowledged!!!


  • Keeps track of computer equipment in labs, makes sure printer has enough ink and paper, etc.
  • Tells the Lab Coordinator what supplies and equipment are needed

Lab members are expected to approach ethical issues that arise in the research process with care and thoughtfulness. There are not always black-and-white solutions to ethical issues; however, this does not mean that all possible solutions are acceptable. A critical part of your training as a researcher is learning how to navigate through ‘ethical gray areas’ and arrive at your ‘right’ solution.

Issues that can and do arise

  • Protecting the privacy of study subjects.
  • Statistical power and the number of subjects needed for a study.
  • Dealing with outliers in data; making decisions about subjects to exclude.
  • Issues associated with subject recruitment.
  • Choosing appropriate statistical tests.
  • Making mistakes, and how to fix them (e.g., data collection, stimulus development, etc.). Please note: While we take measures to avoid them, mistakes happen. It is acceptable to make mistakes. It is NOT acceptable to cover up mistakes.

Speech Acquisition Lab resources are available to a number of researchers, with priority as follows:

  1. Studies conducted by the lab co-directors and the students they supervise
  2. L2 phonology studies conducted by Lab members
  3. L2 phonology studies conducted by Linguistics faculty and students
  4. Other studies (Lab members > Linguistics faculty and students > others), on a case-by-case basis

In practice, this means that for any given semester, the ability to reserve Lab booths is granted in order of priority. Typically, the Lab will be reserved two months at a time.

Compensation for use of the Lab to collect data:

  1. The study design must be presented in a Lab meeting
  2. The study findings must be presented in a Lab meeting
  3. The Lab charges $3.50 per session (where session = one hour, or portion of an hour)*, **

* Depending on how subjects are recruited, some may not be useable for the purpose of the study. If subjects are recruited via the Linguistics Subject Pool, a substantial number may be non-native speakers of English. Otherwise unusable non-native speakers must be run in the Speech Database study, so as not to waste their time. The researcher pays for the session whether the data is usable or not.


** The per-session charge is typically waived for 1 and 2 above.

Marantz PMD660 Directions

by Zac Rasmussen

  1. Set-Up
    1. Plug the recorder into a power source using the power cord labeled SAL PMD660- 1 (this cord should be in the same container as the recorder).
    2. Turn the power switch to ON.
    3. Plug microphone into MIC IN L (this one is also labeled MONO).
    4. To prevent feedback during recording plug headphones into the LINE OUT jack- this will mute the internal speaker.
    5. Make sure the CF card is in place- the CF card door is located next to the PHONES jack.
  2. Recording
    1. Press REC button- the recorder will automatically start recording.
    2. To stop recording press STOP- this will end the track.
    3. Always test the recorder before beginning a recording.
    4. To play the recording, make sure the headphones are plugged into LINE OUT and press PLAY.
  3. Copying to hard drive
    1. Remove the CF card from the recorder and insert it into the CF card reader.
    2. Open the sound file on the computer and copy it to both the hard drive and the server. (See #5 on pg. 13 for uploading instructions)
    3. The CF card must be cleared off after each subject so that the memory does not fill up. To clear the card follow the instructions in #8.
  4. Erasing
    1. Hold down the SHIFT button and press EDIT.
    2. “Trk Erase” will appear on the display- press ENTER.
    3. Use the TRACK JUMP arrow buttons to select the track that you wish to erase; when this track is selected and flashing on the display press ENTER.
    4. When the track has been erased “Completed” will appear on the display followed by another flashing track number. This allows you to continue erasing tracks. When you are finished, press STOP.


  •  Complete human subjects training and send Shannon and Rachel your completion certificate; and
  • Get trained on subject running procedures by an experienced Lab member (this includes observing sessions and being observed running sessions).

Reserve the booth(s)

  • Check the Lab Calendar to make sure there is availability. Block off the times you will post to Sona--include your name and the booth number(s) you want to reserve.

Post sessions on Sona

Run a session

  • Arrive at least ten minutes before your subject is scheduled to arrive. Don’t run a subject who is terribly late if you have another subject coming in afterward, make sure you’ll have enough time to finish before the next subject gets there. If you cannot make an appointment for which a subject is scheduled, first try to find another Lab member to run the subject for you (email If it is at the last minute, email the Lab listserv ( AND the participant explaining the situation—in case the student does not receive the cancellation email, a lab member can post a sign on the Lab door telling the subject that her appointment has been canceled.
  • Once you have found the appropriate study on the white board, open the study binder. CHECK the subject log to see if your subject has already participated in that study!!! If not, proceed by following the experiment protocol for that study. If the subject has already participated, select the next study listed on the white board.
  • We usually do not have very many studies specifically targeting non-native speakers. For this reason, we often run out of studies for them to participate in. This is OK! They still earn credit for coming. Simply thank them, tell them they will receive credit for showing up, and let them leave.
  • ALWAYS ask subjects if they want a photocopy of their signed consent form. If they say yes, ask them to write their email address on the consent form and give it to Rachel or Shannon, who will scan and email it to the student.
  • Follow all directions on the experiment protocol exactly.

Thank You,
The Speech Acquisition Lab

Accessibility and the Lab

  • All students who sign up for experiments can participate as long as they show up for their appointments on time
  • If for ANY reason a subject chooses not to participate (e.g., doesn’t want to sign the consent form, changes their mind after starting the study, etc.), tell them they have earned credit anyway and let them leave. Please make sure you do not let the subject feel awkward about this—their experience in the Lab should be positive!!!
  • All emails to subjects need to mention that the Lab is accessible and provide directions to the elevator in LNCO
  • If for ANY reason, a subject is not able to go into the testing booth, you should run the subject at the counter, and note this on the subject log. Please make sure you do not let the subject feel awkward about this—their experience in the Lab should be positive!!!

How to “Do” a Study

A ‘Lab study’ is any study that uses Lab resources of any kind. When you have an idea for a new Lab study, take the following steps:

  1. Talk with Shannon and/or Rachel about your idea. (And continue to communicate with them as you develop the study)
  2. Create a list of relevant references and start reading
  3. Refine your idea in light of what you read and create a STUDY PROPOSAL (see below)
  4. Present your idea at a Lab meeting (bring copies of your proposal for a handout and prepare a ~10-minute presentation); incorporate feedback into design
  5. When the design is finished (this means that the study could be prepared and run by someone who was previously unfamiliar with the study on the basis of what is written in the proposal), meet with Lab Directors to make final decisions about the study’s implementation
  6. If necessary, submit an IRB application for the study; put SB/RHH as the faculty contact
  7. Submit the name of the study and a brief abstract (~50 words) to RHH/SB for the Lab web site
  8. Create a STUDY NOTEBOOK (see examples in the Lab)
  9. Create a study folder on the Lab server
  10. Consider using the Open Science Framework for your study. Learn more about the Center for Open Science.
  11. Develop stimuli and stimulus presentation files. Create a STUDY NOTES file where you make notes of all aspects of stimulus design, etc. (you will forget if you don’t write everything down!)
  12. Submit to SB/RHH:
    2. The FINAL design
    3. A copy of the IRB approval and consent form
    4. An approximate time frame for data collection

(If you make any changes after this point, you must let RHH/SB know immediately)

  1. Show RHH/SB a complete run-through of the experiment
  2. Present the STUDY PROTOCOL at Lab meeting (so that any Lab member could run the study if necessary)
  3. Collect data (Congratulations for reaching this point!) Note: You may not run any study in the lab without having followed these steps.

Use the Study Proposal Template to create a study proposal. Once approved, a study proposal is converted into a STUDY NOTES file. The STUDY NOTES file is perhaps the most important file of all. It contains everything important about the study. An electronic copy of the study notes file is kept on the Lab server, and an up-to-date hard copy of it is kept in the STUDY NOTEBOOK at all times.

  • If you try something that doesn’t work, or otherwise make a change to the study, keep notes about the change and the reason(s) for it.
  • Keep running notes concerning people involved in the study (informants, people who helped create stimuli, people who helped collect data, people who gave feedback on the study at various times, etc.). These notes will be useful later when you acknowledge contributors to the research in presentations and publications.

A study protocol is the set of written directions associated with a study. Creating clear protocols and following them carefully ensures that each subject is run in exactly the same way in a study. Protocols should be written in a way that any Lab member can follow them. Use the Study Protocol Template to create study protocols.

Each Lab study has its own study notebook. Notebooks contain the following sections and contents:

0. Cover and binding

  • Study name, semester and year started

1. Notes

  • The most up-to-date version of the STUDY NOTES document
  • Hard copies of all correspondence associated with the study
  • Other miscellaneous documents

2. Stimuli

  • Hard copies of all information associated with stimuli and stimulus development

3. Subjects

  • The subject log
  • If applicable, the subject payment receipt form

4. Code

  • If applicable, the DMDX code

5. Data

  • Hard copies of all data (raw and organized)

6. Analysis

  • Hard copies of figures, tables, and the statistical analysis

The front pocket of the binder is for blank questionnaires; put them in the back pocket once they are filled out.

The Lab uses the DMDX experiment presentation software. While the software is at first difficult to understand, with effort you will learn how to use it quickly. Experiments are controlled by scripts written in .rtf files. It is recommended that you become familiar with existing scripts before you try to write your own. Additionally, you should always create new scripts by modifying existing (working) scripts—this reduces much of the difficulty in creating a new script. For more information and for help files, please visit:

Installing and Running DMDX on your Personal Computer

Adapted from

  1. Download from Unzip the archive and run Setup.exe.
  2. BEFORE you open DMDX for the first time, run TimeDX to set-up video, audio and timing parameters:
  1. First, you will be prompted to select hardware/software specifications for sound driver. Do NOT select the default but instead the second option which will typically be a specific video or sound driver on your computer.
  2. Next, under the main File menu, select “Select Video Mode”. Use 1024x768 (60hz) 16 bit (65536 color) RGB.  Then select “Do Test”.  The text “TimeDX” should be displayed on your monitor.  Hit “Escape” to return to the Video Mode menu and select “Done”.
  3. Next, under the main File menu, select “Time Video Mode”. The program will then determine the refresh interval for this video mode by conducting the “Vertical Retrace Sync Test”.  After performing the test, it is important that you save the value to the registry by pressing the button: “Saved Last Used Values in Registry”. 
  4. Next, while still in “Time Video Mode”, check that TimeDX determined the appropriate refresh interval by selecting “Enh. Retrace”. When selected, this will display a red box in the center of the screen with the text “Refresh Rate x” inside (x is the refresh rate designated during the Vertical Retrace Sync Test).  The red box should stay relatively still (i.e., It may flicker but it should not systematically drift up or down) on your screen if the correct refresh rate has been set.  If it does drift, use the + and – keys to slightly adjust the refresh rate until the red box remains still.  If you make any changes during this test, you should again select Saved Last Used Values in Registry” to save this new value.
  5. Finally, go into the Basic Tests menu and select “Millisecond Timer Test” and “Start”. The mean interval should be 1.0 with and SD less the .30.  In addition, the majority of the data points should fall between 0.9 and 1.1. ms.  If not, you may have problems with timing on this computer. 


There are various ways to recruit subjects for studies. Before using any of the methods detailed below, ensure that you have IRB permission to do so. If your study falls under the Lab’s “blanket” IRB approval, all of the following methods are permitted.


Personal Connections


Subjects can be recruited via newspaper and/or online classified resources, such as and MAKE SURE YOU USE IRB-APPROVED TEXT. The following text was approved by the IRB for use in Speech Acquisition Lab studies in 2004, and is a good starting point: The Speech Acquisition Lab at the University of Utah is seeking native and non-native [insert language] speakers to participate in a study about language. If you have no speech or hearing disorders and are between 18 and 45 years old, you may be eligible to participate. Appointments are scheduled at your convenience, and compensation may be provided. Please contact the lab for details: Call [insert your number] or email  

Sona (see Running Subjects above)

Recruitment Forms and Database

  • Every subject will receive a Recruitment Form at the time of the participant questionnaire and will be asked to fill it out if interested. If the subject fills out the recruitment form, the experimenter fills out the experimenter portion of the form and puts it in the box labeled Recruitment Forms. The Lab Coordinator periodically adds these names to the recruitment database. Hopefully, this will provide us with a database of willing participants for running subjects between semesters, finding native speakers of particular languages, etc.
  • If you recruit a subject specifically for his/her native language, or if you get a recruitment form from a subject who is a non-native speaker of English, provide the subject’s name, sex, age, native language, other languages, the name of the study participated in (with subject ID), and contact information to the Lab Coordinator, who will then add it to the subject database. Of course, you should not do this if the subject does not want to be contacted for future studies.
Last Updated: 9/10/18