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The ManyBabies 5 Project

Note: PLOS is delighted to once again partner with the Einstein Foundation Award for Promoting Quality in Research with applications and nominations for this year’s awards open until April 30th, 2023 at 10:00 pm UTC.  The awards program honors researchers who reflect rigor, reliability, robustness, and transparency in their work. To get a flavor of what the Einstein Foundation is looking for we have asked previous finalists and winners to write about their work. Earlier this year we featured the Open Science Atlas, the Ape Research Index and the TrialsTracker project.

Today PLOS is providing more information on the ManyBabies 5 project spearheaded by Jessica Kosie and Martin Zettersten, both from Princeton University.

The ManyBabies 5 project is a large-scale and cross-cultural study on influential models in infant attention research. Current theories on this subject are largely only based on studies with a small number of participants, who are primarily from western industrialized countries. The ManyBabies 5 team is a large-scale collaborative effort of more than 200 scientists from 122 laboratories in 40 countries on 6 continents. The overarching goal is to build a more robust and valid developmental science.

Unlike adult subjects, babies cannot tell you what they are thinking. Therefore, researchers studying infant development use looking patterns to understand how babies think and feel about the world.

“An overwhelming majority of studies use looking time to make inferences about infant cognition.”

-Martin Zettersten, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Princeton University, who works in the Princeton Baby Lab.

But what exactly is it that drives babies to pay attention to different things? To come up with a statistically sound answer to this question, he and his colleague Jessica Kosie initiated ManyBabies 5, a large international consortium of infant researchers.

“We aim to increase diversity amongst researchers and test subjects alike and collaboratively want to come up with the best test possible on how different factors matter in infant looking time.”

-Jessica Kosie, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Princeton Baby Lab.

To that end, the ManyBabies 5 team is putting together a diverse and sizeable sample of infants around the world. “To me, team science is a useful tool for producing high quality, robust science,” says Martin Zettersten. “Embracing this approach as a field as many groups are doing right now—that feels revolutionary to me.” 

You can read more about the ManyBabies 5 project in this preprint and about other projects from the ManyBabies Consortium in this link.  Here is an update, as of November 2023, on the project.

Here are some other resources that may be of interest:

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